Tomyris lived during the 4th century and was queen of the Massagetae (modern-day Iran east of the Caspian Sea).
Her son, Spargapises, was head of her army, which may not have been the best place for him. As you will soon find out, Tomyris is about to go into a mama-bear rage.
You see, the Persian emperor Cyrus the Great decided he wanted to conquer Tomyris’ land. He started with a simple ploy: set-up camp and send her a marriage proposal. Tomyris wasn’t falling for it and sent him back a note saying, “Cyrus, my advice would be to forget about the Massagetae- just rule your own people and do your best to handle the sight of me ruling mine.” Then added, “Well, on the other hand, if you want to fight, fine! Either we will invade you, or you invade our territory, on this side of the river.”
Cyrus’s advisers first told him to let her cross the river, but one trusted friend, Croesus replied with, “It would be a disgrace to give ground to a mere woman.” Then Croesus devised quite a clever plan. They set up a trap for her army (getting them into a drunken stupor with specially crafted fermented mare’s milk) and attacked when the troops were incapacitated.
Unfortunately, Spargagises was amongst the captured, and in Persian captivity Cyrus allowed him (actually, coaxed him) to commit suicide.
When Tomyris found out her son was dead, it was game on. She challenged Cyrus to a second battle using all the forces she had.
This woman on a mission had the upper-hand and this time defeated the Persians in a bloody battle that left very few prisoners of war.
What happened to Cryus? He was killed in battle and Tomyris decided she wasn’t done with him yet. She had his corpse beheaded and crucified and dropped his head in a wineskin filled with human blood. But, in all fairness, she did warn him prior to the battle, and after his defeat she was quoted as saying, “I warned you that I would quench your thirst for blood, and so I shall.”
It seems Cyrus was the type to learn his lessons the hard way.