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Shahanshah Afrand (Vαͽnα Ηραϗ)

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Persian Partisan Knight
7th century painting by Xia Ji Ren based on Afrand's description at the Battle of Yerevan

Empress of the Achaemenid Empire
641 B.C. (859 A.A.) – 559 B.C. (941 A.A.)

Predecessor: Cyaxares, King of Media
Successor: Cyrus II of Anshan
Born: 13th July 660 B.C. (14th Aspayaha 840 A.A.)
Artacana, Kingdom of Aria
Died: 17th August 559 B.C. (19th Kurushahaya 941 A.A.)
House of Isaac, Pasargadae
Spouse: Ourania Shahbanu
Religion: Zoroastrianism

Afrand (13th July 660 B.C.-17th August 559 B.C.) commonly known as Afrand of Ariana and also known as Afrand the Glorious, Afrand the Pious and (in Mongolia) Afrand the Herder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under her rule the Eranic Peoples (Persians, Parthians, Medians and Elamites), along with the Kingdom of Armenia were united under the banner of the Achaemenids. Whilst her empirical gains were much less significant than those of her successors, she set the precedent for how wars were to be fought. Her conquests started when she raised an army of only 3000 untrained soldiers and marched upon Media. She never destroyed the Median Empire, but removed it from Eran and destroyed its army. She then marched upon Armenia, famously being surrounded and engaged by 800 Armenian soldiers when she herself was alone at the battle of Yerevan. An Armenian historian commented that 'This 19 year old girl was fighting 800 of (Ardashir, Armenia's high general)'s men. After killing 400 hundred her mace broke, so killed the rest with her bare hands.' She finally moved to subjugate Parthia, which had declared independence after the destruction of the Medes, but instead of re-conquering the province she instead negotiated them back into her empire. After this she declared herself 'Queen of all Aryans'.

Standard of Cyrus the Great (Achaemenid Empire)

Standard of Afrand of Ariana


The Achaemenid Empire under Afrand of Ariana in Red, Babylon in Pink, Median Empire in Yellow and the Kingdom of Aria in Cyan

For the remainder of her reign Afrand spent her time building infrastructure in place for future generations. Every city was connected via an expanse of paved roads, cities were reorganized and vital facilities built. Afrand restored the ancient Mausoleum of Yazada and made the surrounding area a prosperous town, which would be renamed as capital by Darius I. She also poured money into building religious buildings for her subjects. She was markedly different from her Median predecessors, being very tolerant of all religions and customs in her empire, for example building the Fazhedun Temple for the Parthian God Harash and the Platform of Yakerzidi in Armavir for the Armenian God Yakerzidi. She also engaged in the formal Parthian ritual for becoming queen, a thing which never had been done by Median Kings. She stated herself that 'The only way for Eran to succeed is tolerant and supportive leadership'.

Afrand died at the age of 101 at the House of Isaac, a former Jewish slave from Babylon she had smuggled out as a baby during a diplomatic visit, in 559 B.C.. She left a will that there would be no public mourning and her adopted son Cyrus would at once become Emperor. She also declared that she did not want her body on public display (as is Zoroastrian tradition), but instead wanted to be interred inside the Naqsh Rostam Necropolis with her wife and parents. Within two months of her death, Cyrus had conquered the remainder of the Median Empire, Babylon, much of Central Asia and Scythia, forming the largest empire in history. Her legacy of human rights, tolerance, light handed rule and military strategy have endured throughout history, and she is one of the most celebrated figures of history. She is often used as a symbol of LGBT pride due to her lesbianism and is greatly revered in Eran for, in their opinion, bringing them 'out of the dark ages and into a position of dominance that has lasted ever since.'


Etymology and name debate

Afrand cuneiform

'Afrand' in Old Persian Cuneiform

'Afrand' is thought to be a Sanskrit term meaning 'bright' or 'shining', and was a commonly used name from 800 B.C. in the Kingdom of Aria, Bactria and Parthia. 
Pahlavi afrand

'Afrand-e-Arya' in Shapuri script

Since roughly 200 B.C. there has been a debate about whether or not her birth name was Afrand. There is some thought that her name was Afrandih, wife of the ancient hero Yazada, based on several inscriptions written after her death which used Cuneiform which is generally believed to be pronounced Afrandih, and the fact that Afrand was not a common name in Elam where she grew up, where as Afrandih was. The argument is that she was renamed upon her adoption as no one knew her name when she was found. However, it is generally believed she was born with the name Afrand.

Birth and Early Life

Afrand was born on the 13th of July 660 B.C. (14th Aspayaha 840 A.A.) to, in her own words, a neither poor nor rich family in Artacana (now also known as Afrandapat). Her parents were of Persian descent, her mother was a seamstress and her father a carpenter. However, when she was four months old, her parents were killed in the opening stages of the Pashtun rebellion when the Pashtun partisans overthrew the Arian administration of Artacana. A wanderer, Kshayati, happened upon the baby who had been hidden in the basement of her house when the Pashtun raided it. Kshayati brought her to Elam and gave her to a Zoroastrian Monastery, who raised her in the ways of the religion.

She was raised as a priestess, learning the ideas of tolerance, happiness and goodness. She was taught never to hate anyone nor seek revenge, for revenge was 'a pointless endeavour which led to more sadness and destruction' as she declared on a tablet. She was also taught mathematics, medicine and basic farming.

At the age of 14 she traveled to Mongolia to help with the herding there. She traveled of her own accord with the permission of the monastery. Details of this are sketchy at best, but we know she spent at least eight months there including travel time, and also her contributions were great enough that she was celebrated by the tribes. She returned to Elam and graduated from the monastery at the age of 15, when she then moved to Ecbatana and became a healer.

Rise to power

Cyaxares' feudal law and Draconian Punishments

Afrand arrived in Ecbatana upon the ascension of Cyaxares to the Median throne. Cyaxares was seen as a reformer and a moderate compared to his predecessor (his brother Pharoates), and the first few years of his reign were relatively reformed and peaceful. However, when an attempt on his life was made by Babylonian assassins, Cyaxares enforced several new laws which specifically targeted anything remotely non-Median but particularly non-Babylonian. He also introduced the 'Law to protect the Royal House of Media from revolt and rebellion by its peasants', commonly known as the 'Median Tax Law'. This law forced all non-nobles in the Median Empire must surrender 2/3rds of their wealth to the state, and all workers were essentially in the control of the local lords. It was a primitive feudal system, which outraged the citizens of Media, particularly the Zoroastrians who believed that it was tantamount to slavery. Afrand was especially infuriated, and began protesting against the law. The aforementioned anti-Babylonian laws came into action about three months later, which banned among other things homosexuality and prostitution. This greatly affected Ecbatana which had a huge prostitution industry. Afrand was disgusted by the ban because she herself was a lesbian (see below), and was now totally banned from pursuing relationships.

By the time Afrand was 19 she recorded that she had treated 64 severed hands as the punishment for not paying the aforementioned tax was the loss of a hand. She had also ended up housing peasant families who had to sell their farms to meet the tax, in her apothecary which was very small for even one person. In a surprise police search of her apothecary, the peasants were found hiding and were subsequently executed for selling their livelihood making them unable to pay future tax. The police also found Afrand making love with a Parthian peasant girl, and they were both arrested and held in jail for three months. This was the last straw for Afrand, and she comments 'After I was imprisoned, I had a revelation. My duty to humankind is to remove this intolerant group from power, and allow tolerance and peace to flourish.'

Rise to Power

Upon her release, Afrand spent all the profit she had made as a healer on buying arms from Egypt and Anshan. She also raised up an army of peasants, who were unfortunately inexperienced and often malnourished. However, her luck came when one of the highest ranking Median generals, Mentaxes, approached her with a proposition. He agreed to train her and provide her with weapons and fight with her on the condition he would become ruler of Media upon the removal of Cyaxares. 

In December-time 642 B.C. Afrand's army of roughly 800, including 70 trained soldiers marched upon some minor Median towns and quickly defeated the light Median defenses. The main Median force was at war with Babylon and centered on the Judean coast, meaning the mainland was poorly defended. Moreover, Afrand's army was much more attractive than the Median, they didn't enforce strong taxes and were much more tolerant compared to the Medians. Often peasants would revolt as soon as they knew her army was marching toward their town. However, these victories were somewhat minor compared to the one that happened in January of 641 B.C..

Fall of Ecbatana

Eventually Afrand had consolidated control over most of Western Media and was gathering support from the kings of Anshan and Elam. Afrand's forces numbered 2000 now, with many professional soldiers. However, Ecbatana had a defense of about 5000 soldiers, and it seemed unlikely that she could mount an assault onto Ecbatana and win.

With the advice of Mentaxes Afrand started raiding military convoys leaving and entering Ecbatana for supplies, and also acted to gain the support of local serfs. The city, however, seemed unaffected, so Afrand came up with a plan to enter the city through the sewers which led directly into the prison and mount a surprise attack. The plan was very ambitious and discouraged by Mentaxes, who thought that the sewers would be guarded as Cyaxares was a paranoid man. Ignoring his warnings, Afrand led all 2,000 troops through the sewers and into the prisons. The subsequent battle was hard fought over a few days, where Afrand's forces held the prison and the Median army tried in desperation to recapture it. Afrand and her best archers took up positions on the top of the prison and 'rained arrows upon the Medians for hours.'

Jacob, a Jewish eunuch and commander of the Median forces in Ecbatana, having failed to take the prison and having lost a good chunk of his forces, decided instead to betray his king and ally with Afrand. On the second day of the fighting, he formally signed himself and his army to Afrand and Mentaxes, without the knowledge of King Cyaxares. The combined force at once marched upon the Takara Xshāyathiyānām (Tακαρα Ϡͽαyαθιyαϗαϻ - Palace of the Kings). The palace had but a few soldiers who had remained loyal to the king, and they put up little resistance. Within minutes the palace had fallen, and Median holdings in Eran were under Afrand's control. The seat of the court was, however, abandoned; Afrand presumed that Cyaxares was fighting in Babylonian Judea and would not know of this victory for weeks.


Afrand immediately released all prisoners convicted of crimes she deemed innocent (homosexuality, not being able to pay the tax, etc.). She turned the palace into a homeless shelter, giving the beggars and homeless a place to stay while she tried to bring order to Media. After about two weeks, she was sent a message by Cyaxares which was recorded by Darius I as the following on the Behistun Inscription about 120 years later: 'By the grace of Mithra, I Cyaxares son of Deritakes, son of Jamshid, the Median correctly decide to correspond with you Afrand. By wresting power and corrupting my great general Jacob son of Yehoshua, you have greatly displeased myself and Mithra. Let it be known that our work in Judea is done, and my loyal army shall soon be marching upon Ecbatana, and your head, Mentaxes' and Jacob's too, shall adorn the Palace walls.'

This is generally seen as apocryphal as is much of the Behistun inscription. However, a letter Afrand received a few days later is known to be true as she herself confirmed it; 'I was resting in the gardens with one of the King's concubines, drinking wine and chatting. Then a bearded man of slight build entered, exhausted and gasping for breath. He handed me a letter, bowed and left. When I opened the letter and read it, I was shocked but I admired the writer's articulate style and brevity. It simply said: 'I, Orantes V of Yerevan, the Bounteous Kingdom of Armenia, declare a state of war between Armenia and the usurpers. We hope to see you soon.'

Afrand mobilized her army of about 5000 soldiers north to the Kingdom of Armenia which she found had centred its defenses on the capital. She presumed that they were waiting to meet up with the Median army and launch an offensive, so her sudden attack took them by surprise.

However, the defining moment of the Armenian Campaign and of Afrand's leadership was at the battle of Yerevan, the stronghold of the Armenian Empire. Yerevan was a colossal citadel with towering walls and emplacements set up for archers, making it almost impossible to siege. To further complicate matters Mentaxes was captured by the Armenians three days or so before the attack, and summarily executed. His head adorned the walls of the Orontid Palace for the duration of the battle. The 19 year old Afrand was left alone to command a force of 5000 soldiers and capture one of the most heavily defended cities of the ancient world. On the eve of the attack she and 100 elite soldiers, disguised as engineers, snuck into the city to perform one of the most daring attacks on defenses in human history.

Under the guise of engineers, Afrand entered the sewer system of Yerevan and, using plans stolen from the 'Office of City Management', navigated her way to the walls of the city. Finding the foundations of the walls, she, with the help of the 100 soldiers, attached great ropes to the foundations. They then dug themselves out and attached the ropes to many (Afrand does not specify a number, but Herodotos hypothesizes 500) oxen. The walls eventually fell after hours of pulling by the oxen. At once Afrand's forces rushed into the city, taking much ground before the Armenian forces were mobilized. The Persians were stopped at the city square and remained their for about four days trying to break the Armenian line.

Slaughter at the Apus Canal

On the fourth day of the fighting the Armenian force looked to be faltering and victory for Afrand seemed inevitable. Afrand herself had been fighting with her forces as a horse archer. Her appearance was described by the Armenian historian Artabazarnes of Armavir:

'She sat, mantled on her bay horse, in the finest armour, beautifully carved and of exquisite quality. She was very tall, taller than most men, and stunningly beautiful. Long brown hair and big green eyes, and the most beautiful smile. She was also very strong, her body, though distinctly feminine, was muscular, and she had incredible stamina, the likes of which had not been seen since the times of Yazada.'

Afrand left the city square to fetch water for herself and her horse. She reached the Apus Canal (a diversion from the river Hrazdan used for festivals celebrating the god Apus). Just before leaving she saw a young man wearing the royal colours of Orantes V. Distracted, she didn't notice an Armenian archer hiding in the trees, who fired a deadly shot. By chance it missed her and hit her horse in the underbelly. The horse reared up, throwing Afrand onto the ground, knocking her out. She awoke a few moments later to see an Armenian standing over her, checking if she was dead. She pulled him close and stabbed him in the neck with a dagger. She stood up to find a whole contingent of Armenian royal troops led by Ardashir, the highest ranked Armenian general. Picking up a mace she assaulted the group. Afrand writes 'The fight lasted a long time, a very long time. Two hours at least. Most of it was a blur, nothing particularly vivid, except for Ardashir's death...I remember that well.' As previously mentioned Artabarzanes attests her mace broke after half of the forces were dead, Afrand herself confirms this, but states she used her standard as a weapon briefly before moving on to hand-to-hand combat. Ardashir was the last survivor, and at this point Afrand had lost any sense of control, in her own words; 'I had entered a state of euphoric barbarity, anything and everything was a target, and I would be the one to subdue it. I charged at Ardashir, pushed him down and tore at his throat with my hands and teeth. By the end of it he didn't even have a face, it was just a red, bludgeoned mess.' 

King Orantes, Parthia and 'Shahanshah'

While Afrand annihilated Orantes' finest troops, her forces had broken the Armenian line and were marching on Orantes' palace. The forces had orders to wait for Afrand before storming the palace. When she returned, covered in blood, her standard torn and her helmet ruined, Artabazarnes states; 'The Eranic soldiers and the Armenian civilians (who had welcomed her army into the city, calling Afrand the 'liberator') shuddered in her presence. Though she still looked beautiful, she was also terrifying, and stood now not as a merry freedom fighter, but a warlike Queen.' She ordered her army to advance into the palace at once.

As she and her army marched in the remaining Armenian soldiers knelt down in submission, lining the grandiose hallway. One soldier attacked Afrand but she disarmed him and broke his neck. Finally she and her forces reached the throne room. She opened door, revealing Orantes V sitting on his throne, surrounded by six armed concubines. The concubines advanced on Afrand but Orantes ordered them to stand down. He then approached Afrand and declared:

'You have taken Yerevan, Afrand of Ariana. The finest city in the East now belongs to you. You are truly a more capable general than I and Cyaxares' combined. I have already sent words not to bother attacking Media, he would have no chance. You also are a brave and fierce warrior, defeating Ardashir and my personal force single handedly. I cannot best you, and have no wish to die a hero's death in single combat. So, take this, the sword of my ancestor Tigranes, for all rulers of Armenia must bear this weapon, and execute me. I have lost my kingdom, my crown, my sword, I have very little dignity to protect, do you not agree?' Orantes knelt before Afrand and awaited execution. Afrand knelt down and instead of decapitating him, she kissed him on the forehead and smiled before uttering the words (possibly apocryphal):

'Your time as king is dead, but your time as a man is eternal.'

Orantes was placed under a comfortable house arrest within the palace with his children and concubines. The majority of his wealth was taken to rebuild the city, but he kept about 20% of it. Within hours of Afrand's victory, however, a Parthian named Arsaces had declared Parthia independent from Afrand's kingdom. She left Armenia under the control of Bexada, a prominent Armenian businesswoman, and moved to negotiate with Arsaces. After the Battle of Yerevan and particularly Apus Canal, she wanted war to be a last resort, and wanted peaceful negotiation to prevail.

She traveled, alone, to Asaak, the capital of Parthia and the holy city of their god Fazhedun. There she met with Arsaces to discuss re-absorption of Parthia into Media. He argued that Parthia was once a great kingdom and suffered greatly under Median hegemony which sucked all life and wealth out of the state. She believed that the states of Eran (Media, Parthia, Persia-Anshan and Elam) worked best united under one. Eventually, she convinced him, after agreeing to give the states a degree of autonomy and self management and to make him the leader of Parthia. She soon contacted Cyrus I of Anshan and Persia and Bardiya IV of Elam and they agreed to join the union.

After a few months of arranging the borders of each state and repairing the infrastructure, on Nowruz (March 19th-21st, 1st Khordadayah) 641 B.C. (859 A.A.) Afrand was crowned Queen of Media, Queen of Parthia, Queen of Persia, Queen of Anshan, Queen of Elam, Queen of Armenia, Queen of Queens and Queen of all Aryans. (Ͽα Mαδαϙαyα, Ͽα Παρθαvαϙαyα, Ͽα Παρεαyα Ͽα Aϗͽαϗαϙαyα, Ͽα Uvjαϙαyα, Ͽα Aρϻιϗαϙαyα, Ͽαϙαͽα, Ͽα Aριyαϗαϻ). Note: in Persian there is no distinction between 'King' and 'Queen' regnant, so an empirical ruler is known as 'Shah' be they male or female (the partner of a shah is simply known as shahbanu (lit. wife (of) shah), and 'banu' in the royal context can refer to men also).


Name change and making peace with Cyaxares

Afrand's first priority as queen was to ensure her kingdom's safety from the Median holdings in Anatolia. She renamed the kingdom 'Eranshahr Haxamanishahaya' (the Achaemenid Kingdom of Eran). She chose the name to commemorate the last ruler to unite all Aryans, Achaemenes. She purportedly considered 'Eranshahr Yazadahaya' (Yazadic Kingdom of Eran) after the legendary Yazada, the hero of Mithra, who also united Eran. However Mithraism, the religion of the Medians and Yazada, angered the Parthians as Mithra was the great enemy of Fazhedun, their god. Achaemenes was a Zoroastrian, so was relatable to most of Eran's population and also was known for his fair handedness toward the Parthians and Medians, so was much less polarizing.

Within a few days of her accession, a Greek man, Alexis, eponymous archon of Athens, approached the new Queen with the request of a peace conference between her and Cyaxares. He told her that Cyaxares had been drafting the Lydian population to form an army to take back Eran, and it concerned him that Ionian Greeks (Athens' allies) would be drafted and used as cannon fodder. Afrand, charmed by the politician, agreed to travel to the Athenian assembly and discuss peace.

In August of 641 B.C., a whole month was dedicated to the peace talks in Athens. Cyaxares' terms demanded that Median territory should be returned to him and Afrand would be granted control of Anshan. Afrand's terms were he would keep Lydia and also pay the Achaemenids for repairs of the cities of Yerevan and Ecbatana. The arguments were hard fought and Afrand charmed many of the Greeks in the chamber, with one writing; 'A more articulate and educated barbarian there never has been.'

Eventually, with the help of Athenian, Ionian and Elian diplomats a treaty, known as the Pnyxial Treaty of Athens (as it was signed on the Pnyx hill) was agreed. It was heavily in Eran's favour; Cyaxares was limited to Lydia and had to pay to repair Yerevan and Ecbatana and also donate 75% of its remaining wealth and assets to the Eranic treasury. The treaty turned Eran from a backwater kingdom with little wealth to a power with great potential.

Marriage to Ourania

While in Athens, Alexis gave her a tour of the city. They came upon a slave market which Afrand asked to see. While a priestess she had been told of slavery and that it was one of the most evil things to both Zoroastrianism and to Aryans (indeed Yazada lists the three worst sins of humanity to an Aryan in reverse order as slavery, rape and murder), but had never seen it. She was horrified by what she saw:

'Abyssinians and Judeans herded out of ships by whip-bearing Greeks, women and children in shackles, wounded and bleeding. The most horrifying thing, though, was the bleeding and burnt bodies of the slaves who worked in the silver mines, just dumped in the sea as if it were a matter of discourse. They call this place a cradle of civilization, but any place that allows this can't be considered civilization, but just a bunch of animals playing human.'
Persephone by blackeri

'Ourania, Queen of the Aryans' by Boticelli

However, just as she was leaving she saw a man herding a beautiful girl into the slave market. Afrand stopped the man and asked who he and the girl were (using Alexis as a translator). He said his name was Diodoros and the girl Ourania. She was his 15 year old daughter who had refused to marry any of the suitors he had provided for her. Afrand was aware of arranged marriages (they were a Median custom), but not as young as 15. Diodoros had threatened to sell her into slavery if she did not comply (a somewhat common custom for Greeks at the time) and was following through with his actions. Afrand was absolutely disgusted by his behaviour but was equally mesmerized by the girl herself. She writes;

'She was incomprehensibly beautiful, porcelain skin, chestnut hair, eyes as sharp and crisp as sapphires. She was of slight build and stood nearly a foot below me. I felt a tug, as if I had to take this girl and make her fall for me, and marry her. Her eyes suggested that she was attracted to me, then again it could have been more begging for freedom than lust. I couldn't let her be sold into slavery, sold off to some rich merchant to live the life of a scullery maid. She would be my wife, my queen, Eran's queen, if she wanted, of course.'

Diodoros offered to sell her for 2000 drachmae (OT 360.00 USD, double the rate of a good quality slave). Alexis stated that it was a very poor deal and advised her to haggle, but Afrand refused. She threw the coins at the man, grabbed Ourania, told her she was free (through Alexis) and kissed her. She kissed her back. Unfortunately neither of them spoke each other's respective language. But Afrand commented '(...) for the activities we were doing, whether or not we spoke each other's language was generally of little effect.' Afrand took Ourania back to Eran and proposed marriage, which she gladly accepted. They were married on 17th September, 641 B.C. in Parsa, at this point was still a cozy hamlet overlooked by the restored Yazada Monolith. The wedding was attended by a few friends of the couple, but it was a very small service. There was a national holiday week for the wedding as well, where all were exempt from working.

Administration and construction projects

Afrand left direct control to the local rulers of the states in an informal satrap system. She did however make sure her empire had a strong infrastructure of roads for trade and also buildings for people to use in the empire. She invested heavily to have roads built from all the major cities to all the major cities, and towns and villages were afforded road connections as well. She also (with the permission of the Babylonian king), built a road to Babylon, Nineveh and Jerusalem to bolster trade further. Libraries, barracks buildings and wells were built across the empire, and the Avesta and Epic of Yazada was transcribed into many scrolls to ensure everyone had access to the stories at all times.


Yazada's Monolith in Parsa, restored by Afrand of Ariana

Afrand also invested a great deal of money into renovating buildings neglected by the Medians and other rulers. The Mausoleum of Yazada had fallen into a state of disrepair, and Afrand had it restored. It took a great deal of work, but it was purportedly finished in time of her wedding. Considering the time between the peace conference and the Royal Wedding, it is likely that restorative work had started while Persia-Anshan was an independent kingdom, and the funds from the Medians merely sped the final touches of the work. Also she funded the building of the Platform of Fazhedun for the Parthians and many other religious buildings for minority religions of Eran and Armenia (such as Mithraism and Armenian polytheism). Zoroastrianism experienced a renaissance with the building of many fire temples and also the collection of Avestan writings under Afrand. Many of her buildings still stand and are still in use today, with only the Obelisk of Mithra, the last Mithraic shrine, being destroyed by French bombers during the Great War. 

Death and Succession


Afrand and Ourania were madly in love, and Afrand refused to take a male concubine to provide an heir. She therefore adopted the son of Cambyses and Mandane of Anshan, Cyrus. His parents had been killed in a hunting accident. She raised Cyrus as her own, despite being in her sixties when he was a toddler. She saw Cyrus grow into a wise and capable leader, very kind and compassionate and very intelligent. 

Ourania died in 561 B.C.. A three month mourning followed and Afrand refused to see anyone for a week. Eventually she recovered. However, she planned for her retirement by slowly passing power to Cyrus.


Afrand died in the House of Isaac, the house of a Jewish slave she smuggled out of Babylon on a diplomatic visit, on the 19th of August 559 B.C.. There was no public mourning as by her order, and Cyrus was immediately declared Shah. Within a few months of her death, Cyrus had conquered Lydia, Babylon and Ariana to create the largest empire the world had ever seen. She was interred with her wife in Naqsh Rostam. According to Egyptian and Greek sources she was mummified or embalmed, so a new excavation of the tomb has begun to see if her body is there and intact. 


Afrand's legacy has been far reaching across the world. Her military savvy, emphasis on tolerance and light handed leadership have made her one of the most renowned and popular people of the ancient world. In Eran she is seen as the mother of the nation and is regarded as a national hero. Many leaders have taken inspiration from her rule. She is also a symbol of a number of movements, including the LGBTQA movement due to her sexuality. She is regarded as a hero to Zoroastrians as well for fostering the growth of the religion and espousing its messages across Eran and Armenia, setting the foundations for the religion to become one of the largest world religions. 


Afrand banned any public images of her being made during her lifetime in fear she would be worshiped as a God. Cyrus was also reluctant to create images of her. It was only Darius I who first showed an image of her, but as a highly angelic sculpture upon the Behistun Inscription and likely does not resemble her true appearance. Many painters and sculptors have created impressions of her, the most famous being the one pictured at the top by Chinese-Arab painter Xia Ji Ren, painted in 647 based on her description at the Battle of Yerevan. Other painters such as Raphael and Boticelli have painted portraits of her and Donatello made a beautiful (though inaccurate compared to descriptions) sculpture of Afrand as an apothecary.


Vira Desai in a film poster photograph for 'Afrand'

Several actresses have portrayed Afrand in films, such as Audrey Hepburn and Aisha al-Karim. In the upcoming film, titled 'Afrand', the actress Vira Desai will portray Afrand from her graduation from the monastery to her marriage to Ourania.





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