| King of Kings |
King of Persia
Pharaoh of Egypt
King of Countries
Detail of Darius III from the Alexander Mosaic
|King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire|
|Predecessor||Artaxerxes IV Arses|
|Successor|| Alexander the Great (Macedonian Empire)|
Artaxerxes V Bessus (unofficially)
|Pharaoh of Egypt|
|Successor||Alexander the Great|
|Born||c. 380 BC|
|Died||July 330 BC (aged 49-50)|
|Issue|| Stateira II |
|Father||Arsames of Ostanes|
Darius III (c. 380 – July 330 BC), originally named Artashata and called Codomannus by the Greeks,was the last king of the Achaemenid Empire of Persia, from 336 BC to 330 BC. Artashata adopted Darius as a dynastic name.
His empire was unstable, with large portions governed by jealous and unreliable satraps and inhabited by disaffected and rebellious subjects.
In 334 BC, Alexander the Great began his invasion of the Persian Empire and subsequently defeated the Persians in a number of battles before looting and destroying their capital, Persepolis, by fire in 330 BC. With the Persian Empire now effectively under Alexander's control, Alexander then decided to pursue Darius. Before Alexander reached him, however, Darius was killed by his cousin Satrap Bessus.
Artashata was the son of Arsames, son of Ostanes; and Sisygambis, daughter of Artaxerxes II Mnemon. He had distinguished himself in a combat of champions in a war against the Cadusii and was serving at the time as a royal courier. However, prior to being appointed as a royal courier, he had served as a satrap of Armenia. He may have been promoted from his satrapy to the postal service after the ascension of Arses, for he is referred to as one of the king's "friends" at court after that occasion.
In 336 BC, he took the throne at the age of 43 after the death of Artaxerxes III and Arses. According to Greek historian Diodorus of Sicily, Artashata was installed by the vizier Bagoas, after the latter had poisoned the king Artaxerxes III and subsequently his sons, including Arses, who had succeeded him on the throne. Artashata took the regnal name Darius III, and quickly demonstrated his independence from his possible assassin benefactor. Bagoas then tried to poison Darius as well, when he learned that even Darius couldn't be controlled, but Darius was warned and forced Bagoas to drink the poison himself. The new king found himself in control of an unstable empire, large portions of which were governed by jealous and unreliable satraps and inhabited by disaffected and rebellious subjects, such as Khabash in Egypt. Compared to his ancestors and his fellow heirs who had since perished, Darius had a distinct lack of experience ruling an empire, and a lack of any previous ambition to do so. Darius was a ruler of entirely average stamp, without the striking talents and qualities which the administration of a vast empire required during that period of crisis.
In 336 BC Philip II of Macedon was authorized by the League of Corinth as its Hegemon to initiate a sacred war of vengeance against the Persians for desecrating and burning the Athenian temples during the Second Persian War, over a century before. He sent an advance force into Asia Minor under the command of his generals Parmenion and Attalus to liberate the Greeks living under Persian control. After they took the Greek cities of Asia from Troy to the Maiandros river, Philip was assassinated and his campaign was suspended while his heir consolidated his control of Macedonia and the rest of Greece.
In the spring of 334 BC, Philip's heir, Alexander, who had himself been confirmed as Hegemon by the League of Corinth, invaded Asia Minor at the head of an army of Macedonian and other Greek soldiers. This invasion, which marked the beginning of the Wars of Alexander the Great, was followed almost immediately by the victory of Alexander over the Persians at Battle of the Granicus. Darius never showed up for the battle, because there was no reason for him to suppose that Alexander intended to conquer the whole of Asia, and Darius may well have supposed that the satraps of the ‘lower’ satrapies could deal with the crisis,so he instead decided to remain at home in Persepolis and let his satraps handle it. In the previous invasion of Asia Minor by the Spartan king Agesilaus II, the Persians had pinned him in Asia Minor while fomenting rebellion in Greece. Darius attempted to employ the same strategy, with the Spartans rebelling against the Macedonians, but the Spartans were defeated at Megalopolis.
Darius did not actually take the field against Alexander's army until a year and a half after Granicus, at the Battle of Issus in 333 BC. His forces outnumbered Alexander's soldiers by at least a 2 to 1 ratio, but Darius was still outflanked, defeated, and forced to flee. It is told by Arrian that at the Battle of Issus the moment the Persian left went to pieces under Alexander's attack and Darius, in his war-chariot, saw that it was cut off, he incontinently fled – indeed, he led the race for safety. On the way, he left behind his chariot, his bow, and his royal mantle, all of which were later picked up by Alexander. Greek sources such as Diodorus Siculus' Library of History and Justin's Epitoma Historiarum Philippicarum recount that Darius fled out of fear at the Battle of Issus and again two years later at the Battle of Gaugamela despite commanding a larger force in a defensive position each time. At the Battle of Issus, Darius III even caught Alexander by surprise and failed to defeat Alexander's forces. Darius fled so far so fast that Alexander was able to capture Darius’ headquarters and take Darius’ family as prisoners in the process. Darius petitioned to Alexander through letters several times to get his family back, but Alexander refused to do so unless Darius would acknowledge him as the new emperor of Persia.
Circumstances were more in Darius’ favor at the Battle of Gaugamela in 331 BC. He had a good number of troops who had been organized on the battlefield properly, he had the support of the armies of several of his satraps, and the ground on the battlefield was almost perfectly even, so as not to impede movement of his scythed chariots. Despite all these beneficial factors, he still fled the battle before any victor had been decided and deserted his experienced commanders as well as one of the largest armies ever assembled. Another source accounts that when Darius perceived the fierce attack of Alexander, as at Issus he turned his chariot around, and was the first to flee, once again abandoning all of his soldiers and his property to be taken by Alexander. Many Persian soldiers lost their lives that day, so many in fact that after the battle the casualties of the enemy ensured that Darius would never again raise an imperial army. Darius then fled to Ecbatana and attempted to raise a third army, while Alexander took possession of Babylon, Susa, and the Persian capital at Persepolis. Darius reportedly offered all of his empire west of the Euphrates River to Alexander in exchange for peace several times, each time denied by Alexander against the advice of his senior commanders. Alexander could have declared victory after the capture of Persepolis, but he instead decided to pursue Darius.
The Battle of Gaugamela, in which Alexander the Great defeated Darius III of Persia in 331 BC, took place approximately 100 kilometres (62 mi) west of Erbil, Iraq. After the battle, Darius managed to flee to the city. However, somewhat inaccurately, the confrontation is sometimes known as the "Battle of Arbela."
Darius did attempt to restore his once great army after his defeat at the hands of Alexander, but he failed to raise a force comparable to that which had fought at Gaugamela, partly because the defeat had undermined his authority, and also because Alexander's liberal policy, for instance in Babylonia and in Persis, offered an acceptable alternative to Persian policies.
When at Ecbatana, Darius learned of Alexander's approaching army, he decided to retreat to Bactria where he could better use his cavalry and mercenary forces on the more even ground of the plains of Asia. He led his army through the Caspian Gates, the main road through the mountains that would work to slow a following army.Persian forces became increasingly demoralized with the constant threat of a surprise attack from Alexander, leading to many desertions and eventually a coup led by Bessus, a satrap, and Nabarzanes, who managed all audiences with the King and was in charge of the palace guard. The two men suggested to Darius that the army regroup under Bessus and that power would be transferred back to the King once Alexander was defeated. Darius obviously did not accept this plan and his conspirators became more anxious to remove him for his successive failures against Alexander and his forces. Patron, a Greek mercenary, encouraged Darius to accept a bodyguard of Greek mercenaries rather than his usual Persian guard to protect him from Bessus and Nabarzanes, but the King could not accept for political reasons and grew accustomed to his fate. Bessus and Nabarzanes eventually bound Darius and threw him in an ox-cart while they ordered the Persian forces to continue on. According to Curtius' History of Alexander, at this point Alexander and a small, mobile force arrived and threw the Persians into a panic, leading Bessus and two other conspirators, Satibarzanes and Barsaentes, to wound the king with their javelins and leave him to die.
A Macedonian soldier found Darius either dead or dying in the wagon shortly thereafter—a disappointment to Alexander, who wanted to capture Darius alive. Alexander saw Darius’ dead body in the wagon, and took the signet ring off the dead king's finger. Afterwards he sent Darius's body back to Persepolis, gave him a magnificent funeral and ordered that he be buried, like all his royal predecessors, in the royal tombs. BC.Darius's tomb has not yet been discovered. Alexander eventually married Darius' daughter Stateira at Susa in 324
With the old king defeated and given a proper burial, Alexander's rulership of Persia became official. This led to Darius being regarded by some historians as cowardly and inefficient,as under his rulership, the entirety of the Persian Empire fell to a foreign invader. After killing Darius, Bessus took the regal name Artaxerxes V and began calling himself the King of Asia. He was subsequently captured by Alexander, tortured, and executed. Another of Darius' generals ingratiated himself to Alexander by giving the conqueror Darius' favored companion, Bagoas.
Xerxes I, called Xerxes the Great, was the fifth king of kings of the Achaemenid dynasty of Persia. Like his father and predecessor Darius I, he ruled the empire at its territorial apex. He ruled from 486 BC until his assassination in 465 BC at the hands of Artabanus, the commander of the royal bodyguard.
This article concerns the period 339 BC – 330 BC.
This article concerns the period 329 BC – 320 BC.
Year 330 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Crassus and Venno. The denomination 330 BC for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.
Artaxerxes II Mnemon was the King of Kings of Persia from 404 BC until his death in 358 BC. He was a son of Darius II and Parysatis.
Bessus, also known as Artaxerxes V, was a prominent Persian Satrap of Bactria in Persia, and later self-proclaimed King of Kings of Persia. According to classical sources, he killed his predecessor and relative, Darius III, after the Persian army had been defeated by Alexander the Great.
Bagoas was a prominent Persian official who served as the vizier of the Achaemenid Empire until his death.
Arses, also known by his regnal name of Artaxerxes IV, was the twelfth Achaemenid king of Persia from 338 BC to 336 BC. He is known as Arses in Greek sources and that seems to have been his real name, but the Xanthus trilingue and potsherds from Samaria report that he took the royal name of Artaxerxes IV, following his father and grandfather.
The Battle of Issus occurred in southern Anatolia, on November 5, 333 BC between the Hellenic League led by Alexander the Great and the Achaemenid Empire, led by Darius III, in the second great battle of Alexander's conquest of Asia. The invading Macedonian troops defeated Persia. After the Hellenic League soundly defeated the Persian satraps of Asia Minor at the Battle of the Granicus, Darius took personal command of his army. He gathered reinforcements and led his men in a surprise march behind the Hellenic advance to cut their line of supply. This forced Alexander to countermarch, setting the stage for the battle near the mouth of the Pinarus River and the town of Issus.
The Battle of Gaugamela, also called the Battle of Arbela, was the decisive battle of Alexander the Great's invasion of the Persian Achaemenid Empire. In 331 BC Alexander's army of the Hellenic League met the Persian army of Darius III near Gaugamela, close to the modern city of Dohuk in Iraqi Kurdistan. Though heavily outnumbered, Alexander emerged victorious due to his army's superior tactics and his deft employment of light infantry. It was a decisive victory for the Hellenic League and led to the fall of the Achaemenid Empire.
Ochus, better known by his dynastic name of Artaxerxes III was King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire from 358 to 338 BC. He was the son and successor of Artaxerxes II and his mother was Stateira.
The wars of Alexander the Great were fought by King Alexander III of Macedon, first against the Achaemenid Persian Empire under Darius III, and then against local chieftains and warlords as far east as Punjab, India. By the time of his death, he had conquered most of the world known to the ancient Greeks. However, he failed to conquer South Asia. Although being successful as a military commander, he failed to provide any stable alternative to the Achaemenid Empire—his untimely death threw the vast territories he conquered into civil war.
Sisygambis was the mother of Darius III of Persia, whose reign was ended during the wars of Alexander the Great. After she was captured by Alexander at the Battle of Issus, she became devoted to him, and Alexander referred to her as "mother".
Margiana is a historical region centred on the oasis of Merv and was a minor satrapy within the Achaemenid satrapy of Bactria, and a province within its successors, the Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian empires.
Artabazos II was a Persian general and satrap of Hellespontine Phrygia. He was the son of the Persian satrap of Hellespontine Phrygia Pharnabazus II, and younger kinsman of Ariobarzanes of Phrygia who revolted against Artaxerxes II around 356 BC. His first wife was an unnamed Greek woman from Rhodes, sister of the two mercenaries Mentor of Rhodes and Memnon of Rhodes. Towards the end of his life, he became satrap of Bactria for Alexander the Great.
Ariobarzanes, also spelled as Ario Barzan or Aryo Barzan and commonly known as Ariobarzanes the Brave, was an Achaemenid prince, satrap and a Persian military commander who led a last stand of the Persian army at the Battle of the Persian Gate against Macedonian King Alexander the Great in the winter of 330 BC.
The Battle of the Persian Gate was a military conflict between a Persian force, commanded by the satrap of Persis, Ariobarzanes, and the invading Hellenic League, commanded by Alexander the Great. In the winter of 330 BC, Ariobarzanes led a last stand of the outnumbered Iranian forces at the Persian Gates near Persepolis, holding the Macedonian army for a month. Alexander eventually found a path to the rear of the Iranians from the captured prisoners of war or a local shepherd, eventually capturing Persepolis.
The Achaemenid Empire, also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient Iranian empire based in Western Asia founded by Cyrus the Great. Ranging at its greatest extent from the Balkans and Eastern Europe proper in the west to the Indus Valley in the east, it was larger than any previous empire in history, spanning 5.5 million square kilometers. Incorporating various peoples of different origins and faiths, it is notable for its successful model of a centralised, bureaucratic administration, for building infrastructure such as road systems and a postal system, the use of an official language across its territories, and the development of civil services and a large professional army. The empire's successes inspired similar systems in later empires.
The Thirty-first Dynasty of Egypt, also known as the Second Egyptian Satrapy, was effectively a short-lived province (satrapy) of the Achaemenid Persian Empire between 343 BC to 332 BC. It was founded by Artaxerxes III, the King of Persia, after his reconquest of Egypt and subsequent crowning as Pharaoh of Egypt, and was disestablished upon the conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great.
Xerxes: The Fall of the House of Darius and the Rise of Alexander is a 2018 historically inspired comic book limited series written and illustrated by Frank Miller. It acts as a prequel and sequel to the events chronicled in Miller's earlier series 300, a fictional retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae.
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Darius IIIBorn: ca. 380 BC Died: 330 BC
Artaxerxes IV Arses
| King of Kings of Persia |
Artaxerxes V Bessus
| Pharaoh of Egypt |