Arganthonios ("Argantonio" in Spanish) was the most important king of ancient Tartessos (in Andalusia, southern Spain).

The name Arganthonios derives from the Etruscan name "arcnti"Fact|date=April 2008. To the Cempsi (neighboring Celts of southern Portugal) "argan" meant silver. other similar names, Arantonius, Arantoniceo are celtic names from Lusitania.So the name could mean "king of silver" or "man of silver". Tartessia and all of Iberia was rich in silver. There are other Celtic names that form the same term: -eilin (elbow of silver), Argeitlan (hand of silver). From Irish and Galic we have "airg", a prince, and "airig", a chief or sovereign. Arg seems to have been more of a title added to his real name.


According to Herodotus, King Arganthonios ruled Tartessia for 80 years, from 630 BC to 550 BC. Much of this Tartessian dynasty is told in legends, so no one knows what part is actually historical. He is said by the Greeks to have lived for 120 years while others state that he lived a longer 150 years. His empire consisted of all of Andalucía and extended to the Cabo de la Nao (a cape east of the Costa Blanca, south of the Gulf of Valencia). His empire was what may possibly have attracted Greek colonists to the Spanish coast. One of those colonies was Mainake, present-day Málaga. Though the capital of Tartessia sank in the mouth of the swampy Guadalquivir River (and now is famously thought to have been Atlantis), its sunken ruins show great fortifications and columns. Herodotus records his death after a naval battle won by the Greeks over a united fleet of Carthaginians and Etruscans. After losing over half their fleet, the Greeks stopped challenging military dominance in the area, and Tartessia, without an ally, became exposed to Carthaginian expansion.

Arganthonios' Generosity

The Greek historian Strabo wrote of the wealth and great generosity of Arganthonios in the story of a Greek sailor named Colaeus whose ship was blown off course and landed in Tartessos. After being regally entertained for some months, his ship was loaded up with silver and he was sent home. The story also tells how Arganthonios gave the Greeks 1 1/2 tons of silver to build defensive walls to protect themselves from the Persians.

See also

*Tartessian language
*Spanish mythology



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