First, let me say that you guys are awesome! Over a hundred of you voted in the Baddest Assyrian Ruler Name poll. For awhile it was a real (saddle-less, paired-rider) horse-race, but in the end the decision was clear. Without further ado, here are top three vote-getters:
Coming in at #3, Tukulti-ninurta!
Definitely one of my perennial favorites, the name itself fairly exudes brutality and malevolence. And that’s even BEFORE you realize that it translates to “My Trust is in (the Warrior God) Ninurta.” The first Assyrian ruler with this name conquered Babylon in the late 13th century BC, built a brand new city named after himself, and then got besieged and murdered in it – by his own sons! That is some serious cojones, and (one assumes) some seriously bad parenting. The second ruler with this name, whom we just covered last episode, spent his free time doing a little something called CONQUERING THE PERSIANS! OK, so the Persians were no great shakes in the early 9th century BC, but still – no one else could really make that claim until Alexander the Great around 600 years later. So take THAT Tiglath-pileser (who, incidentally, he just beat out by a few votes).
At #2, it’s Shalmaneser!*
Sinister is the adjective for this Assyrian ruler name. You know he’s Slytherin before he even gets close to the Sorting Hat. The name is also pronounced “Salmanu-asared,” and translates to “The God Salmanu is Pre-eminent.” Salmanu, by the way, is the Assyrian god of the underworld, fertility and war, which (a) nice grouping, and (b) I’m guessing you know which one Shalmenser’s favorite is. The first ruler with this name put the final nail in the Mitanni coffin when he took incorporated half of their kingdom into Greater Assyria back in the early 13th century BC. He also claimed to have blinded 14,400 prisoners in one eye, making him a definite trendsetter in the realm of Assyrian brutality. And if this wasn’t enough, he was also father of the above-mentioned Tukulti-ninurta I, so I’m guessing the brutal apple didn’t fall TOO far from the malicious tree. The second Assyrian king with this name ruled during the dark age of the late 11th century BC, and in the absence of information we’ll make the pretty safe assumption that he was also a very, very bad man. The third, whom we introduced last episode, is just getting started earning his name. With Shalmaneser, it looks like the third time just might be the charm!
And the winner is…Ashurbanipal!
It’s got Ashur right in the name, so you know it’s hard-core! PLUS only one Assyrian ruler had this name, making it unique. The name is also pronounced “Ashur-bani-apli,” and translates to “Ashur is Creator of an Heir.” Coming late in the Neo-Assyrian game, he will be the last strong ruler before (spoiler alert!) the empire finally falls. Sure, he had a penchant for collecting valuable and important historical documents, but he made up for this by ramping up Neo-Assyrian cruelty to truly over-the-top levels. An example? How about putting a dog chain through the jaw of a defeated king and then making him live in a dog kennel. It’s just that kind of outside-the-box savagery that earns Ashurbanipal the coveted top spot in our list of Baddest Assyrian Ruler Names of All Time!
Thanks again to everyone who participated!
*Per contest rules, if the winner is unable to perform his duties with sufficient brutality, the #2 Ruler Name will take his place.