Mascames & Boges – Heroes of the Achaemenid Empire on the Greek Frontier


When Xerxes invaded Greece he replaced the governor at Doriscus, whom Darius had appointed, with Mascames, son of Megadostes (Herodotus 105). The Persians evacuated Greece after they’d been decisively defeated and their governors and garrisons throughout the Hellespont and Thrace were dislodged by the Greeks. All except Doriscus. Located in Thrace, Xerxes had appointed Mascames its commander and for his valiant service Xerxes sent him countless gifts which continued with his son Artaxerxes and the descendants of Mascames. Mascames withstood assault after assault by a united Greek alliance but they could not defeat him (Herodotus 106). At some point in the future it was abandoned with the rest of Europe by the Achaemenids as the Wars of the Delian League made further Achaemenid expansions untenable.


In terms of last stands, the Persian governor Boges may have set the ultimate standard. Xerxes put him in charge of Eion, a garrison near the Chalkidiki peninsula and near the future Athenian colony of Amphipolis. While he was under siege by the Athenian general Cimon he was offered a peace settlement to return to Persia but refused. Two possible reasons could have been that he didn’t want to appear as a failure in front of the king or that he was a strong loyalist who would never surrender. When they ran out of food he made a great pyre and killed his servants, concubines, wives and children. He then threw their bodies upon the flames. He also threw all the gold and silver from the city into the Strymon River. In his last act he jumped into the pyre and died. This earned him immense respect amongst the Persians. Xerxes always praised him afterwards and treated his sons well in Persia (Herodotus 107).

Herodotus, The Histories – Book 7, Chapter 105-107

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