First Iranian National Hero


M. Saadat Noury
by M. Saadat Noury

INTRODUCTION: The terms hero (as a male), and heroine (as a female) have been used to define a person who is admired for having done something very brave or having achieved something great. In mythology and legend, it is defined as a person, often of divine ancestry, who is endowed with great courage and strength, celebrated for the bold exploits, and favored by the gods. In science and technology, a hero or heroine is a person noted for special achievement in a particular field (e.g., the heroes of medicine). In literature, it is the principal character of a novel, a poem, or a dramatic presentation. In history, that is a person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life (e.g., war hero, and national hero). In this article, the family tree, the life story and the battles of Ario Barzan (ARB), the very First Iranian National Hero will be studied and discussed.

HIS FAMILY TREE: The reliable documents indicate that ARB, known as Ariobarzanes-II (Old Persian: Ariyabrdna-II) and also as Artabazus-II, was a descendant of Pharnabazus (PHA) who was the son of an Iranian nobleman. In 387 BC, PHA was a satrap of Hellespontine Phrygia in Anatolia (the northwest of present-day Turkey). Satrap or Satrapes derived from Old Persian xsatrapa, means the Protector of the Land, and it was the name given to the provincial governors in the ancient Achamenid Empire. Darius I or Darius the Great (522-486 BC) established 20 satraps with an annual tribute. Appointed by the king, satraps were usually of the royal family or Iranian nobility and held office indefinitely. They collected taxes, were the highest judicial authority, and were responsible for internal security and for raising and maintaining an army. A satrap was assisted by a council of Iranian noblemen, to which also provincials were admitted; and was controlled by a royal secretary and by emissaries of the king, especially the Eyes of the King. After the fall of Achamenid Empire, Greek Alexander and his successors retained the satraps.
It should be noted that PHA cultivated the friendship of Athens and Sparta and, about 366 BC, he led the unsuccessful revolt of the satraps of western Anatolia against the Achamenian King Artaxerxes II (reigned 404-359 BC). PHA, however, maintained his friendship with the King, greatly complied his commands, and preserved his position as a satrap until he died in 360 BC. Out of the marriage of PHA and lady Apamea, Ariobarzanes-I (AR-I) was born who later also became a satrap. AR-I was betrayed by his son, Michradates, and was crucified in 362 or 363 BC. Then, his half-brother, Artabazus-I (ART), succeeded him. ART (389-325 BC) was also an Iranian nobleman who had a respectable position in the court of Darius-III Codomannus or D3C (reigned 336-330 BC), the last king of Achamenids Dynasty. Ario Barzan (ARB) was the son of ART.

HIS LIFE: Though the exact birth-date of ARB is unknown, it is speculated that he was born around 368 BC. Any research work on the early life of ARB is a very complicated task and requires time and space. However, it is well documented that ARB was the satrap of Persepolis and Persis (the southern province of Fars in present-day Iran) in 335 BC. For many researchers it is surprising that D3C had appointed a satrap for Persepolis and Persis. It seems that previously, this office did not exist, and it is possible that D3C, who had come to power in a period of some social problems in Iran, needed a reliable man at home while he was away, fighting against the invader Macedonians at Issus (an ancient town close to present-day Iskenderun in Turkey) in 333 BC, and at Gaugamela (a flat plain near ancient town of Tel Gomel east of Mosul in northern part of present-day Iraq) in 331 BC. If this is correct, ARB must have been a close relative or a personal friend of D3C. It is also speculated that the only reason for his appointment as the satrap of Persepolis and Persis was due to the fact that he was a very strong supporter of D3C.

HIS BATTLES: As many historians documented, Iranians fought bravely at Issus and Gaugamela, but were unable to prevent Macedonian victories, and Alexander proceeded to Babylon and Susa in 330 BC. A Royal Road connected Susa (the first Iranian federal capital city in Elam) with the more eastern capitals of Persepolis and Pasargadae in Persis, and that was the road for Alexander to take. Meanwhile, D3C was building a new army at Ecbatana (Western province of Hamadan in present-day Iran). It was obvious that Alexander wanted to reach the treasures of Persepolis before D3C could defend them. ARB had to prevent the Macedonian attack on Persis, and had two advantages: in the first place, he commanded people who were defending their homes and were very motivated; in the second place, he knew the terrain and the topography of the place. There were only a few possible roads through the Zagros Mountains, which were at the time, in January 330, covered with snow and ice. And ARB knew how to exploit this.
When Alexander invaded an unknown country, he usually divided his forces to diminish the risks and facilitate the food supply. ARB must have learned from his spies that in the area of Masjed-e Soleyman, the Macedonian army had been split into two parts. Alexander's general Parmenion took one half along the Royal Road, and Alexander himself took the route towards Persis. ARB knew where he could trap his main opponent: in the Persian Gate (in Persian: Darvaazeh Fars), northeast of modern Yasuj (the capital of southwestern province of Kohkiluyeh and Bovair-Ahmad in present-day Iran). And if ARB could have defeated Alexander in that Gate, he could turn to the south and attack Parmenion as well.
Alexander first massacred a mountain tribe named Uxians, and believed that after this deed, everyone would flee. (As Encyclopedia Britannica notes people of western province of Khuzistan in present-day Iran, came from a region where Uxians lived, and Khuzi could have been derived from the term Uxi). Indeed, at the so-called Susian Gate, west of Yasuj, no one appeared to block the road. Believing that he would not encounter any problems in the Persian Gate either, Alexander forgot to send scouts into the pass and walked into ARB's trap with his eyes wide open. The satrap had occupied a position near the little village that is now known as Cheshmeh Chenar. When one approaches this place from the west, the valley, called Tang'e Meyran, is initially very wide, so the Macedonians marched at some speed. But ARB knew what he was doing. After an hour's walk, the valley becomes narrower, and curves to the east-southeast, where the Macedonians were blinded by the morning sun. Immediately after they had crossed an icy brook, they would had to turn to the left, where ARB was ready to strike against an army that was standing on slippery ground, pushed forward by its rearguard, and under attack from all hilltops. Some sources mention that ARB had built a wall across the canyon, but he probably did not have to. The Persian Gate was only a couple of meters wide. However this may be, at some point, the first group of Macedonian invaders must have realized that they could no longer advance, understood that they were ambushed, and hesitated. This was the moment ARB had been waiting for. One signal was sufficient to convert the valley into a killing zone. From the northern slope, the Iranians rained down boulders and stones on the Macedonians, who were smashed away not individually, but by entire platoons. From the southern slope, Iranian archers and catapults launched their projectiles. The Macedonians panicked, tried to return, but were unable to do so, because their rear guard was still advancing. It must have taken some time before Alexander's men were in full retreat.
ARB knew that the battle was not over yet. It was likely that Alexander would try again next day, or would try to take another road. This, however, would be dangerous. From Yasuj, the Macedonians could go to the north, to Gabae (which is now called Isfahan or Esfahan, a central province in present-day Iran)), where they would trap themselves between the army of Darius in Ecbatana and that of ARB in Persis. Alternatively, they could go to the south and join Parmenion, trapping themselves between ARB's army and another Iranian army existed there. Given these facts, the Persians had some reason to believe that their success could change the course of the war. Alexander could not move to the north or south, but would have to retreat or try for a second time. It is documented that Alexander considered all options and finally he decided to send a message to ARB offering him a position as a Field Marshal of Greek army if ARB could surrender. ARB refused and declared that he would fight to death to protect Iran and his countrymen. Here is a part of a poem composed by poetess Turan Bahrami Shahriari, which portrays the last battle of ARB and the lessons that can be taught by his patriotic heroism:

كنون گويمت رويدادي دگر / زتاريخ ديرين اين بوم و بر
چو اسكندر آمد به ملك كيان/ يكي گرد فرمانده ي قهرمان 
به ايرانيان داد درس وطن/دراين ره گذ شت از سرو جان و تن
كه فرزند نام آور ميهن است / مرآن شير دل آريو برزن است
چو نزديك شد لحظه ي واپسين / به ميدان_ آورد گفت اين چنين
بدان اي سكندر پس از مرگ من/ پس از ريزش آخرين برگ تن
تواني گشايي در پارس را / نهي بر سرت افسر پارس را
به تخت جم و كاخ شاهنشهان / قدم چون نهي بادگر همرهان
مبادا شدي غره از خويشتن / كه ايران بسي پرورد همچو من
چو اسكندر اين جانفشاني بديد / سرانگشت حيرت به دندان گزيد 
به آهستگي گفت با خويشتن / كه اينست مفهوم عشق وطن
اگر چند آن آريا مرد گرد / پي پاس ايران زمين ، جان سپرد
ولي داد درسي به ايرانيان / كه در راه ايران چه سهل است جان

سروده ي خانم توران بهرامي ( شهرياري) برگرفته از كتاب ديوان توران

HIS END: After 48 days of fighting, an Iranian tribal chief, regrettably, betrayed his homeland and guided Alexander through the mountains to the rear of ARB's lines. That was how Alexander managed to defeat the Iranians and subjugate the Achamenid Empire. It is reported that shortly after Alexander reached the rear of ARB's lines, the Iranian hero also became under attack from the north (by Philotas), and from the west (by Craterus). Many Iranians were massacred. ARB and his loyal army battled bravely against the invaders. Sorrowfully, the Macedonians killed ARB in last day of January 330 BC. Alexander then reached the Palaces of Persepolis, and appointed a man named Phrasaortes as successor of ARB. Four months later, the Macedonian invaders burned the beautiful Palaces of Persepolis down.


1. Lendering (2005): Online Article on "Ariobarzanes".
2. Saadat Noury, M. (2005): Various Articles on Persian History & First Iranians.
3. Speck, H. (2002): "Alexander at the Persian Gates. A Study in Historiography and Topography", American Journal of Ancient History n.s. 1.1, Pp15-234.
4. Stein, A. (1940): Old Routes of Western Iran, ed., London, UK.
5. Wikipedia Encyclopedia (2005): Online Notes on "Persian Empire" and "Battle of Persian Gate".
6. Zegorat-iran Website (2004): Online Poems and Notes on Aryo Barzan (in Persian).



more from M. Saadat Noury
Manoucher Avaznia

ابی گرامی؛

Manoucher Avaznia

سپاس بنده از شما و آقای سعادت.

ebi amirhosseini

Manucher aziz

by ebi amirhosseini on

My memory doesn't help me anymore,since it's more than 10 years that I'm away from teaching these subjects,but,I hope you can find a refrence in late Dr Bahar's book: "Asaatir e Iran".You made a good point about the great Greek historians.

Anyhow,if I find anything,I'll let you know.

We are all humble students of history,including me.


Ebi aka Haaji

Homan Mohabadi Ebrahimi


by Homan Mohabadi Ebrahimi on

First, I like to thank scholar Manouchehr Khan Saadat Noury for his excellent article on Ario Barzan. I also like to thank Ebi Amirhosseini who taught a lesson to Avaznia and referred him to some good sources cited by Encyclopedia Iranica supervised by scholar Yar Shater. And the question still remains toward Avaznia: Who gave you the authority to categorize different sources?

Manoucher Avaznia

Thank You Ebi Geraamee for the input

by Manoucher Avaznia on

This was great information to refresh my memory, however I note that these historians are at least over two hundred years afar from the event.  You are fully aware that plenty of their accounts are subject to criticism as well.  Arrian (xenophone who apparently is a disciple of Socretus) has lived before the event and his book of Return of Ten Thousand Greek soldiers after Koorosh the Minor's attempt for the crown was defeated and he was killed in battle near Babel, cannot become a source of credible information.  

Do you know any Iranian sources to refer to this event either directly or indirectly?  Is there any legendary heros in our literature to allude to Ariobarzan?  

If you know anything, please inform me too.



ebi amirhosseini

منوچهر جان

ebi amirhosseini

Maybe some don't know that your major is history .I happened to find this:


Shaad Baashi

Ebi aka Haaji

Manoucher Avaznia

Mr. Mohabadi;

by Manoucher Avaznia on

Thank you for the input.  The best (if I trust your source) illustration that this is a weak story is this source of yours that has mentioned ArioBarzan an ancestor of Kords and Lurs.  Please, Sir, a people (Maads:Kurds) who established the first known kingdom in the Iranian plateau more than one humdred years before Kurosh cannot be children of ArioBarzan who (according to the story) has lived and fought four hundred years later.  Lurs are of the Kasp people whose history in Iran goes back at least 1500 years before his time. 

First hand sources of Iranian history in those days are Iranian, Greek, Roman, Turah, some archeological findings, perhaps phinniceons, and latter on Arabs.  My questions are still there.  




Dear Mr Avaznia,

by Kaveh Parsa on

What do you mean by first hand sources? If you mean accounts of events by people who witnessed those events and recorded them, then unfortunately very little has survived post the Arab invasion.

Also I don't see how you can consider tarikhe Tabari as being a first hand source, as he wrote about the events in Karbala some 200 years after the event!!


Homan Mohabadi Ebrahimi

Please go and read them

by Homan Mohabadi Ebrahimi on

As JJ well said it, "Look in the mirror once a while". I just like to know who gave you (Mr Avaznia) the authority to categorize different sources; Western, Greek, 1st-Hand and so on? Believe me Ario Barzan and his battles against the invadors are noy myth. Among those items that author Saadat Noury put in the references, you can find the types of documents you are looking for. Please go and read them if you got time. Or this one in Persian:



Manoucher Avaznia

Mr. Fateh;

by Manoucher Avaznia on

Thanks for the input.  I am not here to discuss anything with you about this subject or any other subjects as each subject has its own way of research and logic.  What I have raised with Mr. Noury is an academic dialogue and not mudslinging.  Again, I would appreciate any original source that can substanciate the basis of this story (that I grew up with believing in its truthfulness: actuality, and now I have serious doubts about that it looks like a copy without much supporting materials). 

These said, legends and epics have their valuable place in building nations' identities while history has its own place.  My look at this story of Ariobarzan is rather from epical point of view and not pure history.  I have every right to raise a question in order to quench my curiousity towards discovering the historic truthfulness of an event; and my audience has the full right not to answer me. 

Just to mention a few sources of the story of Karballa. I have reffered to these available first-hand history sources when I faced the cridibility challenge.  Some of those sources are Translation of Tareekh'e Tabaree; Tareekh'e Iben Atheer (translation), Tareekh'e Yaghoobee; and also Tareekh'e Masoodee which were translations.  Again, their are other sources like that of Behaghee.  Even Ghazzali discusses the Karbala event from legitimacy of the rebilion.  I am talking about early 1980's.  I lay to rest the rest of this story that has more sources than you can imagine; and will definitely not argue about this with you.

Regardless of the fact that Iranians even at the local level did not show a great resistence towards Eskandar the Gojasteh, it is very well established that Iranian army for any reason did not show an appetite to fight this invader.  Perhaps, they thought it was a family fued between the ruling elite of the same empire.  Perhaps, as in some literary sources like that of Nezaamee's and even Ferdowsee Eskandar was (somehow) regarded a holey person.  Interestingly enough that Ferdowsee's stroy about Esfandiar (the sacred) narrates that his mother Katayoon was of Roman descendents.  Even until recently some used to call Eskandar the Zulgharnein that Qu'aan has mentioned as a righteous man.  Basically, in Zartoshtee sources Alexander is referred to as Gojasteh (the cursed).

My questions are: where are the first hand sources of the story of Ariobarzan?  What are the first hand Iranian sources of the story?  Can people not see striking similarities between this story and the story of the Spartans who fought Khashayarsh's army at Termopil (or whatever the name of the place)?  

I dearly appreciate whoever to give me these answers.



Manoucher Avaznia

Mr. Fateh;

by Manoucher Avaznia on

Sorry.  Posted twice. 


Dear JJ

by Faramarz_Fateh on

Our anger is from the sense and feeling of helplessness we have developed over the past 30 years.

You are right.  Anger, hatred, finger pointing (I as a poster am guilty of this as anyone else if not more) never fix anything.

But at the moment I am consumed with hatred of IRI and Islam.  Not sure what I can do about it.  My personal feeling is that I will remain this way until IRI is no more!  (that maybe after I am dead!).

I find it interesting that nothing else in life has had such an effect on me.  In year 2000 I lost 50% of my net worth in the market.  I went on with life as if nothing happened. 

I am very open to suggestions though. 


Jahanshah Javid

A suggestion

by Jahanshah Javid on

Once in a while go back and read your comments. Aren't you concerned that your anger and finger pointing and sarcasm clearly show through. I am just one reader. But I can assure you that anyone who reads anything, whether it's your comments, articles, books, whatever, can get a sense of what type of writer they're dealing with as a person. And many of you -- many of us -- come off as Angry people -- with a capital A. There are a million reasons why we harbor this anger. But I just want to remind you that angry people a) don't have an audience, b) have no friends.

Who wants to sit and watch someone shouting and cursing? It might be funny, curious or interesting to observe a fight but there's so much an average person can take. There's nothing gained. Zanandas. Do you care?

Instead of reading ugly outbursts where nothing is learned, your audience will move on to other things that give positive energy. That makes them smile. That makes them think.

So again, read your own comments. Look in the mirror once a while. That's what the world sees. Are you happy with it?



by Faramarz_Fateh on

where are the sources for death of Imam hossein at the hands of Yazid?  where are the sources for what Imam Ali did 1400 years ago?

What are the sources that Imam Mehdi ever existed?  Where are the sources that he went and hid in a well?

IslamoMafia disgust me. 

Manoucher Avaznia

With Sepaas Mr. Noury;

by Manoucher Avaznia on

These sources are not first-hand sources.  They must have used some first-hand sources to compile their accounts of the story.  Do you have any first-hand sources of either Iranian, Greek-o-Roman, or Arab historians have been given a realistic detailed account of the even in discussion and the family tree of this person?  Is there an account in the Shahnameh about this even and the person called Ariobarzan?



M. Saadat Noury

The Sources

by M. Saadat Noury on

A note to Manouchehr Avaznia: Please view the references cited.

maziar 58


by maziar 58 on

As its best;who could have done it better than these morde parastan ?

No wonder majority of our Iranian youth are turning to crack and their own destruction or maybe that was the true MISSION of khomeini .     

DOWN WITH IRI & ITS SUPPORTERS.                                   




by shushtari on

I have read about this subject greatly......and it should be a source of national pride....

unfortunately, some forsat talab has always betrayed iran and its people by siding with the enemy 

Manoucher Avaznia

1.  About the bravery of

by Manoucher Avaznia on

1.  About the bravery of Iranian fighters in those days and their commitment to the cause of homeland it is just enough to say that troops of an empire that extended from Tebit to Danube and to Libya with contingents of Greek soldiers at their service were decissively defeated several times in the hands of a much smaller size of troops of a Satrapee of their own that was smaller than Province of Mazandaran. 

2.  Can Mr. Noury list what he calls reliable sources that he mentions in the beginning of the second paragraph?

3.  Would anyone elaborate where and when (for the first time or about the first time) the name Ariobarzan has been mentioned in Iranian sources regardless if the sources are engraved scripts or books of epics and legends etc?

4.  Has anyone contemplated on the similarities between this story and the story of the Spartans who resisted Iranian troops during Khasharsha's invasion of Hellas in a strait and their bereyal by a sheepherd and were killed to the last soul?





توکلی: پادشاهان از کتب تاریخی مقطع راهنمایی و متوسطه حذف می شوند



Many thanks to Mr Nouri .

As if Ommaties cultural genocide was not complete, tokhmeh Qadesiyeh want more: read

مهر: رئیس گروه مطالعات تاریخ وزارت آموزش و پرورش از آغاز تغییرات جدید در کتب تاریخ مقاطع راهنمایی و متوسطه خبر داد و گفت: در تغییرات جدید، تاریخ نگاریهای نظامی و پادشاهان از کتب تاریخ این مقاطع تحصیلی حذف می شود.

یعقوب توکلی افزود: کتابهای تاریخ جدید این دو مقطع با رویکرد فرهنگی اسلامی و تمدن پرور جایگزین تاریخ نگاری های سیاسی و نظامی پادشاهان و جنگها می شود.

وی با بیان اینکه این تغییرات به صورت تدریجی آغاز شده است، افزود: تغییرات در کل متون تاریخ زمان بر است و حتی سالها به طول می انجامد.

وی تصریح کرد: در این رویکرد پادشاهان و جنگجویانی نظیر خشایار  و پادشاهان دیگری از این قبیل حذف و به جای آنان چهره های تمدن سازی همچون خواجه نصیرطوسی، زکریای رازی، ابوعلی سینا و ... پرداخته و توجه می شود.

رئیس گروه مطالعات تاریخ وزارت آموزش و پرورش با اشاره به اینکه هم اکنون تغییرات متون کتاب تاریخ این دو مقطع به صورت تدریجی و کارشناسی آغاز شده است، گفت: نشستهایی هم با معلمان تاریخ و برخی اساتید این بخش به صورت آموزشهای ضمن خدمت پیش بینی شده است.

توکلی اضافه کرد: تاکنون چند متن این کتاب در این مقاطع تغییر داده شده اما این تغییرات تدریجی است و سالها به طول می انجامد.

وی تغییرات در محتوای کتابهای تالیفی در آموزش وپرورش را بسیار دشوار خواند و گفت: تغییرات کتاب در آموزش و پرورش مثل دانشگاه ها نیست که استاد جزوه ای را معرفی کرده و بعد دوباره تعویض کند.
رئیس گروه مطالعات تاریخ وزارت آموزش وپرورش با اشاره به اینکه در کتاب تاریخ در رویکردی دیگر بیشتر به سمت تاریخ معاصر هستیم، خاطرنشان کرد: خواهان توجه ویژه در متون تاریخی به انقلاب اسلامی نیز هستیم


& we all know which section of Iran,s history & which kings they are talking about deleting .If this is not treason, I wonder what is, if this is not Qadesiyeh regime I wonder who  else could qualify. They have already in student,s history books minimized the whole history of Iran prior to Islam to a mere few pages in a vague distorting manner. I bet all those intelectual Ommaties every where & self rightious ideologues on this site who preach tolerance(for their ommatie icons) read this & sweat in shame.


Path of Kiaan Resurrection of True Iran Hoisting Drafshe Kaviaan // //


سروده اي ازخانم هما ا رژنگی


نبردِ آريو برزن

 نبردِ نور و تاريكى

 نبردِ حور و اهريمن

 چسان گويم حديثِ آن جوانمردان

 مرا كى باشد اين امكان

 كه تا بايسته برگويم

 از آن شايسته جانبازان

 همين گويم

 هزاران بار، چرخِ آسمان

 در گردشِ پرگار چرخيده‏

 هزاران سال، خورشيدِ جهان افروز

 بر خاكِ دليران نور پاشيده‏

 هزاران فتنه بر قلبِ وطن مِسمار كوبيده


 آيينِ جانبازى، در اين سامان نمى‏ميرد

 سرو جان مى‏رود از كف

 ولى ايمان نمى‏ميرد

 كلامِ آخِرين بشنو

 گُهر پرور سراى من

 كهن گهواره پاكان

 بهشتِ روشنِ ايران





 پاینده ایران


Great Piece of Work & Good Links

by All-Iranians on

Thank you Dr Saadat Noury for this great piece of work. I also like thank Rad Lanjani for introduclng very useful links.  Payandeh Iran & True Iranians.



by jamshid on

Thank you for reminding us of our own Iranian heroes. It is unfortuate that so many in Iran are not taught about their ancestors' heroes and their acts of bravery.

Rad Lanjani

نبرد آريو برزن

Rad Lanjani

Rad Lanjani

A Link for Discussion & More

by Rad Lanjani on

Start a discussion or ask a question about the Ancient Warfare in reference to Ario Barzan: