Ancient Egypt Wiki
Preceded by:
Cambyses II
Pharaoh of Egypt
27th Dynasty
Succeeded by:
Darius I
Old Persian: 𐎲𐎼𐎮𐎡𐎹 (Bardiya)
Koine Greek: Σμέρδις (Smerdis)
522 BC (few months)
Father Cyrus the Great
Mother Cassandane
Consort(s) Phaedymia
Issue Parmys
Died 522 BC
Burial Unknown

Smerdis (Old Persian: 𐎲𐎼𐎮𐎡𐎹, Romanized: Bardiya) was the third King of Kings of the Achaemenid Persian Empire and second Pharaoh of the Twenty-seventh Dynasty during the Late Period of ancient Egypt. He was a son of Cyrus the Great and the successor of his brother Cambyses II. Smerdis either ruled the Achaemenid Empire for a few months in 522 BCE, or was impersonated by a magus called Gaumata (Old Persian: 𐎥𐎢𐎶𐎠𐎫), whose name is given by Ctesias as Sphendadates (Old Persian: *Spantadātah; Ancient Greek: Σφενδαδάτης Sphendadátēs), until he was toppled by Darius the Great.

Most modern historians do not consider Darius' version of events convincing, and assume that the person who ruled for a few months was the real son of Cyrus, and that the story of his impersonation by a magus was an invention of Darius to justify his seizure of the throne.[1]

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  1. Olmstead 1959; Allen 2005, p. 42; Holland 2005; Van de Mieroop 2006; Axworthy 2008.


  • Allen, L., 2005: The Persian Empire. The British Museum press, London.
  • Axworthy, M., 2008: Iran: Empire of the Mind. Basic Books, New York.
  • Holland, T., 2005: Persian Fire: The First World Empire and the Battle for the West. Little, Brown Book Group, Boston.
  • Mieroop, M. van de, 2006: A History of the Ancient Near East. (2nd ed.), Blackwell.
  • Olmstead, A.T., 1959: History of the Persian Empire. University of Chicago Press, Ann Arbor.
Cambyses II
Pharaoh of Egypt
27th Dynasty
Darius I