Artaxerxes III

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Artaxerxes III
King of Kings
Great King
King of Persia
Pharaoh of Egypt
King of Countries
Artaxerxes III tomb detail.jpg
Bust of Artaxerxes III, located in the Allard Pierson Museum in the Netherlands
King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire
Reign358 – 338 BC
Predecessor Artaxerxes II
Successor Arses
Pharaoh of Egypt
Reign343 – 338 BC
Predecessor Nectanebo II
Successor Arses
DiedAugust/September 338 BC
Burial
Issue Arses
Parysatis II
Dynasty Achaemenid
Father Artaxerxes II
Mother Stateira
Religion Zoroastrianism

Ochus (Greek: Ôchos, Babylonian: Ú-ma-kuš), better known by his dynastic name of Artaxerxes III (Old Persian : 𐎠𐎼𐎫𐎧𐏁𐏂Artaxšaçā) was King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire from 358 to 338 BC. He was the son and successor of Artaxerxes II (r. 404  338 BC) and his mother was Stateira.

Greek language Language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

Akkadian language extinct Semitic language

Akkadian is an extinct East Semitic language that was spoken in ancient Mesopotamia from the 30th century BC until its gradual replacement by Akkadian-influenced Old Aramaic among Mesopotamians by the eighth century BC.

King of Kings title

King of Kings was a ruling title employed primarily by monarchs based in the Middle East. Though most commonly associated with Iran, especially the Achaemenid and Sasanian Empires, the title was originally introduced during the Middle Assyrian Empire by king Tukulti-Ninurta I and was subsequently used in a number of different kingdoms and empires, including the aforementioned Persia, various Hellenic kingdoms, Armenia, Georgia and Ethiopia.

Contents

Before ascending the throne Artaxerxes was a satrap and commander of his father's army. Artaxerxes came to power after one of his brothers was executed, another committed suicide, the last murdered and his father, Artaxerxes II died. Soon after becoming king, Artaxerxes murdered all of the royal family to secure his place as king. He started two major campaigns against Egypt. The first campaign failed, and was followed up by rebellions throughout the western part of his empire. In 343 BC, Artaxerxes defeated Nectanebo II, the Pharaoh of Egypt, driving him from Egypt, stopping a revolt in Phoenicia on the way.

Satrap Ruler of a province in ancient Persia

Satraps were the governors of the provinces of the ancient Median and Achaemenid Empires and in several of their successors, such as in the Sasanian Empire and the Hellenistic empires. The satrap served as viceroy to the king, though with considerable autonomy; and the word also came to suggest tyranny, or ostentatious splendour.

Nectanebo II Egyptian pharaoh

Nectanebo II, ruled in 360—342 BC was the third and last pharaoh of the Thirtieth Dynasty of Egypt as well as the last native ruler of ancient Egypt.

Pharaoh Title of Ancient Egyptian rulers

Pharaoh is the common title of the monarchs of ancient Egypt from the First Dynasty until the annexation of Egypt by the Roman Empire in 30 BCE, although the actual term "Pharaoh" was not used contemporaneously for a ruler until Merneptah, c. 1200 BCE. In the early dynasty, ancient Egyptian kings used to have up to three titles, the Horus, the Sedge and Bee (nswt-bjtj) name, and the Two Ladies (nbtj) name. The Golden Horus and nomen and prenomen titles were later added.

In Artaxerxes' later years, Philip II of Macedon's power was increasing in Greece, where he tried to convince the Greeks to revolt against the Achaemenid Empire. His activities were opposed by Artaxerxes, and with his support, the city of Perinthus resisted a Macedonian siege.

Philip II of Macedon Macedonian monarch

Philip II of Macedon was the king (basileus) of the kingdom of Macedon from 359 BC until his assassination in 336 BC. He was a member of the Argead dynasty of Macedonian kings, the third son of King Amyntas III of Macedon, and father of Alexander the Great and Philip III. The rise of Macedon, its conquest and political consolidation of most of Classical Greece during the reign of Philip II was achieved in part by his reformation of the Ancient Macedonian army, establishing the Macedonian phalanx that proved critical in securing victories on the battlefield. After defeating the Greek city-states of Athens and Thebes at the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC, Philip II led the effort to establish a federation of Greek states known as the League of Corinth, with him as the elected hegemon and commander-in-chief of Greece for a planned invasion of the Achaemenid Empire of Persia. However, his assassination by a royal bodyguard, Pausanias of Orestis, led to the immediate succession of his son Alexander, who would go on to invade the Achaemenid Empire in his father's stead.

Perinthus ancient city of Thrace

Perinthus or Perinthos was a great and flourishing town of ancient Thrace, situated on the Propontis. According to John Tzetzes, it bore at an early period the name of Mygdonia (Μυγδονία).

There is evidence for a renewed building policy at Persepolis in his later life, where Artaxerxes erected a new palace and built his own tomb, and began long-term projects such as the Unfinished Gate.

Persepolis Ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire

Persepolis was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire. It is situated 60 km northeast of the city of Shiraz in Fars Province, Iran. The earliest remains of Persepolis date back to 515 BC. It exemplifies the Achaemenid style of architecture. UNESCO declared the ruins of Persepolis a World Heritage Site in 1979.

Etymology

Artaxerxes is the Latin form of the Greek Artaxerxes (Αρταξέρξης), itself from the Old Persian Artaxšaçā ("whose reign is through truth"). [1] His personal name was Ochus (Greek: Ôchos, Babylonian: Ú-ma-kuš). [2]

Latin Indo-European language of the Italic family

Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.

Old Persian is one of the two directly attested Old Iranian languages. Like other Old Iranian languages, this language was known to its native speakers as Iranian language. Old Persian appears primarily in the inscriptions, clay tablets and seals of the Achaemenid era. Examples of Old Persian have been found in what is now Iran, Romania (Gherla), Armenia, Bahrain, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt, with the most important attestation by far being the contents of the Behistun Inscription. Recent research (2007) into the vast Persepolis Fortification Archive at the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago have unearthed Old Persian tablets, which suggest Old Persian was a written language in use for practical recording and not only for royal display.

Asha Central and complex Zoroastrian theological concept

Asha is a Zoroastrian concept with a complex and highly nuanced range of meaning. It is commonly summarized in accord with its contextual implications of 'truth' and 'right(eousness)', 'order' and 'right working'. For other connotations, see meaning below. It is of cardinal importance to Zoroastrian theology and doctrine. In the moral sphere, aša/arta represents what has been called "the decisive confessional concept of Zoroastrianism". The opposite of Avestan aša is 𐬛𐬭𐬎𐬘 druj, "deceit, falsehood".

Early life and accession

Before ascending the throne Artaxerxes had been a satrap and commander of his father's army. [3] In 359 BC, just before ascending the throne, he attacked Egypt as a reaction to Egypt's failed attacks on coastal regions of Phoenicia. [4] In 358 BC his father, Artaxerxes II, died, it was said to be because of a broken heart caused by his children's behaviour, and, since his other sons, Darius, Ariaspes and Tiribazus had already been eliminated by plots, Artaxerxes III succeeded him as king. [5] His first order was the execution of over 80 of his nearest relations to secure his place as king. [6]

Phoenicia Ancient Semitic civilization

Phoenicia was a thalassocratic, ancient Semitic-speaking Mediterranean civilization that originated in the Levant, specifically Lebanon, in the west of the Fertile Crescent. Scholars generally agree that it was centered on the coastal areas of modern day Lebanon and included parts of what are now northern Israel and southern Syria reaching as far north as Arwad, but there is some dispute as to how far south it went, the furthest suggested area being Ashkelon. Its colonies later reached the Western Mediterranean, such as Carthage in North Africa, and even the Atlantic Ocean, such as Cádiz in Spain. The civilization spread across the Mediterranean between 1500 BC and 300 BC.

In 355 BC, Artaxerxes forced Athens to conclude a peace which required the city's forces to leave Anatolia and to acknowledge the independence of its rebellious allies. [7] Artaxerxes started a campaign against the rebellious Cadusii, but he managed to appease both of the Cadusian kings. One individual who successfully emerged from this campaign was Darius Codomannus, who later occupied the Persian throne as Darius III.

Revolt of Artabazos and Orontes against the Achaemenid King (354-353 BC)

Artabazos portrait.jpg
Orontes I portrait.jpg
The Satraps of Asia Minor Artabazus (left) and Orontes (right) revolted against the new king Artaxerxes III in 354-353 BC.

Artaxerxes then ordered the disbanding of all the satrapal armies of Asia Minor, as he felt that they could no longer guarantee peace in the west and was concerned that these armies equipped the western satraps with the means to revolt. [8] The order was however ignored by Artabazus II, satrap of Hellespontine Phrygia, who asked for the help of Athens in a rebellion against the king. Athens sent assistance. Artabazos was at first supported by Chares, an Athenian general, and his mercenaries, whom he rewarded very generously. The gold coinage of Artabazos is thought to have been issued specifically to reward the troops of Chares. The Satrap of Mysia, Orontes I also supported Artabazus. Later, Artabazos was also supported by the Thebans, who sent him 5,000 men under Pammenes. With the assistance of these and other allies, Artabazos defeated the King in two great battles in 354 BC.

However, in 353 BC, they were defeated by Artaxerxes’ army and were disbanded. Orontes was pardoned by the king, while Artabazus fled with his family to the safety of the court of Philip II of Macedon, where he remained from 352 to 342. [9]

First Egyptian Campaign (351 BC)

In around 351 BC, Artaxerxes embarked on a campaign to recover Egypt, which had revolted under his father, Artaxerxes II. At the same time a rebellion had broken out in Asia Minor, which, being supported by Thebes, threatened to become serious. [10] Levying a vast army, Artaxerxes marched into Egypt, and engaged Nectanebo II. After a year of fighting the Egyptian Pharaoh, Nectanebo inflicted a crushing defeat on the Persians with the support of mercenaries led by the Greek generals: the Athenian Diophantus and the Spartan Lamius. [11] [12] Artaxerxes was compelled to retreat and postpone his plans to reconquer Egypt.

Rebellion of Cyprus and Sidon

Achaemenid coinage of Idrieus of Caria during the reign of Artaxerxes III, showing the Achaemenid king on the obverse, and his satrap Idrieus on the reverse. Circa 350-341 BC. CARIA, Achaemenid Period. Circa 350-334 BC.jpg
Achaemenid coinage of Idrieus of Caria during the reign of Artaxerxes III, showing the Achaemenid king on the obverse, and his satrap Idrieus on the reverse. Circa 350-341 BC.

Soon after this Egyptian defeat, Phoenicia, Anatolia and Cyprus declared their independence from Persian rule. In 343 BC, Artaxerxes committed responsibility for the suppression of the Cyprian rebels to Idrieus, prince of Caria, who employed 8000 Greek mercenaries and forty triremes, commanded by Phocion the Athenian, and Evagoras, son of the elder Evagoras, the Cypriot monarch. [13] [14] Idrieus succeeded in reducing Cyprus.

Sidon campaign of Belesys and Mazaeus

Artaxerxes initiated a counter-offensive against Sidon by commanding the satrap of Syria Belesys and Mazaeus, the satrap of Cilicia, to invade the city and to keep the Phoenicians in check. [15] Both satraps suffered crushing defeats at the hands of Tennes, the Sidonese king, who was aided by 40,000 Greek mercenaries sent to him by Nectanebo II and commanded by Mentor of Rhodes. As a result, the Persian forces were driven out of Phoenicia. [14]

Coinage of Tennes, the king of Sidon who revolted against the Achaemenid Empire. Dated 351/0 BC. PHOENICIA, Sidon. Tennes. Circa 351-347 BC.jpg
Coinage of Tennes, the king of Sidon who revolted against the Achaemenid Empire. Dated 351/0 BC.

Sidon campaign of Artaxerxes

After this, Artaxerxes personally led an army of 330,000 men against Sidon. Artaxerxes' army comprised 300,000 foot soldiers, 30,000 cavalry, 300 triremes, and 500 transports or provision ships. After gathering this army, he sought assistance from the Greeks. Though refused aid by Athens and Sparta, he succeeded in obtaining a thousand Theban heavy-armed hoplites under Lacrates, three thousand Argives under Nicostratus, and six thousand Æolians, Ionians, and Dorians from the Greek cities of Anatolia. This Greek support was numerically small, amounting to no more than 10,000 men, but it formed, together with the Greek mercenaries from Egypt who went over to him afterwards, the force on which he placed his chief reliance, and to which the ultimate success of his expedition was mainly due.

The approach of Artaxerxes sufficiently weakened the resolution of Tennes that he endeavoured to purchase his own pardon by delivering up 100 principal citizens of Sidon into the hands of the Persian king, and then admitting Artaxerxes within the defences of the town. Artaxerxes had the 100 citizens transfixed with javelins, and when 500 more came out as supplicants to seek his mercy, Artaxerxes consigned them to the same fate. Sidon was then burnt to the ground, either by Artaxerxes or by the Sidonian citizens. Forty thousand people died in the conflagration. [14] Artaxerxes sold the ruins at a high price to speculators, who calculated on reimbursing themselves by the treasures which they hoped to dig out from among the ashes. [16] Tennes was later put to death by Artaxerxes. [17] Artaxerxes later sent Jews who supported the revolt to Hyrcania, on the south coast of the Caspian Sea. [18] [19]

Second Egyptian Campaign (343 BC)

Artaxerxes III as Pharaoh of Egypt, satrapal coinage of Mazaeus in Cilicia. Artaxerxes III as Pharao.jpg
Artaxerxes III as Pharaoh of Egypt, satrapal coinage of Mazaeus in Cilicia.

The reduction of Sidon was followed closely by the invasion of Egypt. In 343 BC, Artaxerxes, in addition to his 330,000 Persians, had now a force of 14,000 Greeks furnished by the Greek cities of Asia Minor: 4,000 under Mentor, consisting of the troops which he had brought to the aid of Tennes from Egypt; 3,000 sent by Argos; and 1000 from Thebes. He divided these troops into three bodies, and placed at the head of each a Persian and a Greek. The Greek commanders were Lacrates of Thebes, Mentor of Rhodes and Nicostratus of Argos while the Persians were led by Rhossaces, Aristazanes, and Bagoas, the chief of the eunuchs. Nectanebo II resisted with an army of 100,000 of whom 20,000 were Greek mercenaries. Nectanebo II occupied the Nile and its various branches with his large navy. The character of the country, intersected by numerous canals, and full of strongly fortified towns, was in his favour and Nectanebo II might have been expected to offer a prolonged, if not even a successful, resistance. But he lacked good generals, and over-confident in his own powers of command, he was able to be out-manoeuvred by the Greek mercenary generals and his forces eventually defeated by the combined Persian armies. [14]

After his defeat, Nectanebo hastily fled to Memphis, leaving the fortified towns to be defended by their garrisons. These garrisons consisted of partly Greek and partly Egyptian troops; between whom jealousies and suspicions were easily sown by the Persian leaders. As a result, the Persians were able to rapidly reduce numerous towns across Lower Egypt and were advancing upon Memphis when Nectanebo decided to quit the country and flee southwards to Ethiopia. [14] The Persian army completely routed the Egyptians and occupied the Lower Delta of the Nile. Following Nectanebo fleeing to Ethiopia, all of Egypt submitted to Artaxerxes. The Jews in Egypt were sent either to Babylon or to the south coast of the Caspian Sea, the same location that the Jews of Phoenicia had earlier been sent.

After this victory over the Egyptians, Artaxerxes had the city walls destroyed, started a reign of terror, and set about looting all the temples. Persia gained a significant amount of wealth from this looting. Artaxerxes also raised high taxes and attempted to weaken Egypt enough that it could never revolt against Persia. For the 10 years that Persia controlled Egypt, believers in the native religion were persecuted and sacred books were stolen. [21] Before he returned to Persia, he appointed Pherendares as satrap of Egypt. With the wealth gained from his reconquering Egypt, Artaxerxes was able to amply reward his mercenaries. He then returned to his capital having successfully completed his invasion of Egypt.

Later years

Tomb of Artaxerxes III at Persepolis. Iran, Persepolis, Tomb of Artaxerxes III.jpg
Tomb of Artaxerxes III at Persepolis.
Soldiers of various ethnicities of the Achaemenid Empire, tomb of Atarxerxes III. Artaxerxes III soldiers of the Empire, with labels.jpg
Soldiers of various ethnicities of the Achaemenid Empire, tomb of Atarxerxes III.

After his success in Egypt, Artaxerxes returned to Persia and spent the next few years effectively quelling insurrections in various parts of the Empire so that a few years after his conquest of Egypt, the Persian Empire was firmly under his control. Egypt remained a part of the Persian Empire until Alexander the Great's conquest of Egypt.

After the conquest of Egypt, there were no more revolts or rebellions against Artaxerxes. Mentor of Rhodes and Bagoas, the two generals who had most distinguished themselves in the Egyptian campaign, were advanced to posts of the highest importance. Mentor, who was governor of the entire Asiatic seaboard, was successful in reducing to subjection many of the chiefs who during the recent troubles had rebelled against Persian rule. In the course of a few years Mentor and his forces were able to bring the whole Asian Mediterranean coast into complete submission and dependence.

Bagoas went back to the Persian capital with Artaxerxes, where he took a leading role in the internal administration of the Empire and maintained tranquility throughout the rest of the Empire. During the last six years of the reign of Artaxerxes III, the Persian Empire was governed by a vigorous and successful government. [14]

The Persian forces in Ionia and Lycia regained control of the Aegean and the Mediterranean Sea and took over much of Athens’ former island empire. In response, Isocrates of Athens started giving speeches calling for a ‘crusade against the barbarians’ but there was not enough strength left in any of the Greek city-states to answer his call. [22]

Although there weren't any rebellions in the Persian Empire itself, the growing power and territory of Philip II of Macedon in Macedon (against which Demosthenes was in vain warning the Athenians) attracted the attention of Artaxerxes. In response, he ordered that Persian influence was to be used to check and constrain the rising power and influence of the Macedonian kingdom. In 340 BC, a Persian force was dispatched to assist the Thracian prince, Cersobleptes, to maintain his independence. Sufficient effective aid was given to the city of Perinthus that the numerous and well-appointed army with which Philip had commenced his siege of the city was compelled to give up the attempt. [14] By the last year of Artaxerxes' rule, Philip II already had plans in place for an invasion of the Persian Empire, which would crown his career, but the Greeks would not unite with him. [23]

In 338 BC Artaxerxes III was according to a Greek source, Diodorus of Sicily, poisoned by Bagoas with the assistance of a physician. [24] [25] A cuneiform tablet in the British Museum (BM 71537) however suggests Artaxerxes III died from natural causes. [26]

Legacy

Historically, kings of the Achaemenid Empire were followers of Zoroaster or heavily influenced by Zoroastrian ideology. Faravahar.svg
Historically, kings of the Achaemenid Empire were followers of Zoroaster or heavily influenced by Zoroastrian ideology.

Historically, kings of the Achaemenid Empire were followers of Zoroaster or heavily influenced by Zoroastrian ideology. The reign of Artaxerxes II saw a revival of the cult of Anahita and Mithra, when in his building inscriptions he invoked Ahura Mazda, Anahita and Mithra and even set up statues of his gods. [27] Mithra and Anahita had until then been neglected by true Zoroastrians—they defied Zoroaster’s command that God was to be represented only by the flames of a sacred fire. [17] Artaxerxes III is thought to have rejected Anahita and worshipped only Ahuramazda and Mithra. [28] An ambiguity in the cuneiform script of an inscription of Artaxerxes III at Persepolis suggests that he regarded the father and the son as one person, suggesting that the attributes of Ahuramazda were being transferred to Mithra. Strangely, Artaxerxes had ordered that statues of the goddess Anâhita be erected at Babylon, Damascus and Sardis, as well as at Susa, Ecbatana and Persepolis. [29]

Artaxerxes' name appears on silver coins (modeled on Athenian ones) issued while he was in Egypt. The reverse bears an inscription in an Egyptian script, saying "Artaxerxes Pharaoh. Life, Prosperity, Wealth". [30]

In literature

It is thought by some that the Book of Judith could have been originally based on Artaxerxes' campaign in Phoenicia, as Holofernes was the name of the brother of the Cappadocian satrap Ariarathes, the vassal of Artaxerxes. Bagoas, the general that finds Holofernes dead, was one of the generals of Artaxerxes during his campaign against Phoenicia and Egypt. [31] [32]

Construction

The Unfinished Gate at Persepolis gave archaeologists an insight into the construction of Persepolis. Persepolis Taureaux.jpg
The Unfinished Gate at Persepolis gave archaeologists an insight into the construction of Persepolis.

There is evidence for a renewed building policy at Persepolis, but some of the buildings were unfinished at the time of his death. Two of his buildings at Persepolis were the Hall of Thirty-Two Columns, the purpose of which is unknown, and the palace of Artaxerxes III. The unfinished Army Road and Unfinished Gate, which connected the Gate of All Nations and the One-hundred Column Hall, gave archaeologists an insight into the construction of Persepolis. [10] In 341 BC, after Artaxerxes returned to Babylon from Egypt, he apparently proceeded to build a great Apadana whose description is present in the works of Diodorus Siculus.

The Nebuchadnezzar II palace in Babylon was expanded during the reign of Artaxerxes III. [33] Artaxerxes' tomb was cut into the mountain behind the Persepolis platform, next to his father's tomb.

Family

Artaxerxes III was the son of Artaxerxes II and Statira. Artaxerxes II had more than 115 sons by many wives, most of them however were illegitimate. Some of Ochus' more significant siblings were Rodogune, Apama, Sisygambis, Ocha, Darius and Ariaspes, most of whom were murdered soon after his ascension. [22]

His children were:

By Atossa. [34]

By an unknown wife:

He also married:

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Tennes

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Belesys was a satrap of Syria for the Achaemenid Empire in the 4th century BCE.

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Bibliography

Ancient works

Modern works

Artaxerxes III
Born: c. 425 BC Died: 338 BC
Preceded by
Artaxerxes II
Great King (Shah) of Persia
358–338 BC
Succeeded by
Artaxerxes IV Arses
Preceded by
Nectanebo II
Pharaoh of Egypt
XXXI Dynasty
343–338 BC