1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Deioces

DEIOCES (Δηιόκης), according to Herodotus (i. 96 ff.) the first king of the Medes. He narrates that, when the Medes had rebelled against the Assyrians and gained their independence about 710 B.C., according to his chronology (cf. Diodor. ii. 32), they lived in villages without any political organization, and therefore the whole country was in a state of anarchy. Then Deioces, son of Phraortes, an illustrious man of upright character, was chosen judge in his village, and the justness of his decisions induced the inhabitants of the other villages to throng to him. At last the Medes resolved to make an end of the intolerable state of their country by erecting a kingdom, and chose Deioces king. He now caused them to build a great capital, Ecbatana, with a royal palace, and introduced the ceremonial of oriental courts; he surrounded himself with a guard and no longer showed himself to the people, but gave his judgments in writing and controlled the people by officials and spies. He united all the Median tribes, and ruled fifty-three years (c. 699–647 B.C.), though perhaps, as G. Rawlinson supposed, the fifty-three years of his reign are exchanged by mistake with the twenty-two years of his son Phraortes, under whom the Median conquests began.

The narration of Herodotus is only a popular tradition which derives the origin of kingship from its judicial functions, considered as its principal and most beneficent aspect. We know from the Assyrian inscriptions that just at the time which Herodotus assigns to Deioces the Medes were divided into numerous small principalities and subjected to the great Assyrian conquerors. Among these petty chieftains, Sargon in 715 mentions Dāyukku, “lieutenant of Man” (he probably was, therefore, a vassal of the neighbouring king of Man in the mountains of south-eastern Armenia), who joined the Urartians and other enemies of Assyria, but was by Sargon transported to Hamath in Syria “with his clan.” His district is called “bit-Dāyaukki,” “house of Deioces,” also in 713, when Sargon invaded these regions again. So it seems that the dynasty, which more than half a century later succeeded in throwing off the Assyrian yoke and founded the Median empire, was derived from this Dāyukku, and that his name was thus introduced into the Median traditions, which contrary to history considered him as founder of the kingdom.  (Ed. M.)