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Tomyris

tomyris castagno
Tomyris painting by Castagno


Tomyris (pronounced TOM-ir-iss or toh-MY-riss) is the name of an ancient Massagetean queen known for having Cyrus the Great beheaded. Although he had built the largest empire then known and defeated Tomyris's army in one battle, she challenged him to a second and won. Cyrus did try proposing marriage to her in order to gain control over the Massagetae, but she laughed and this probably made him more eager for battle. Tomyris's son, the army general, was captured in the first battle, and he committed suicide to escape being a prisoner. Tomyris sent a message to Cyrus warning him to release her son, but he ignored her and her son died, resulting in the final battle.

Her name - originally in the form of Tahm-Rayiš is Iranian (Persian) in origin, as she ruled in Central Asia and the Scythian language was a branch of Iranian. This article makes an educated guess that her name either means "iron" or "brave glory." Her name recently became a common given name in Turkey and Central Asia. She was written about by many ancient writers, painted by several influential painters, and added to a list of the "Nine Worthies," which was originally a group of nine men from different time periods who represented the ideals of chivalry. A list of women was added in the late 14th century, but the list varied. Now you can find her name as a species of Central Asian butterflies and a minor planet (asteroid).

Tomyris is not present in U.S. naming records. Today it would be a bit of a daring choice, considering how graphic her legend is, but many see her as a powerful warrior queen and a fine example of a woman in charge. For a namesake that has been remembered through the ages, she deserves a bit of love in the naming world.

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