Artaxerxes I  

( ruled 465 to 424 B.C. )



Hystaspes tries for the Throne


In Bactria, Hystaspes, who had a rightful claim to the throne, raised the standard of revolt. Artaxerxes marched against him in person, and engaged him in two battles, the first of which was indecisive, while in the second the Bactrians suffered defeat, chiefly (according to Ctesias) because the wind blew violently in their faces. So signal was victory, that Bactria at once submitted. Hystaspes' fate is uncertain.



 Artaxerxes I, authorized the return of Ezra to the Holy Land to deal with deficiencies in the practice of worship among the people of God, and Nehemiah, who dealt with political problems, and oversaw the rebuilding of the walls of the city of Jerusalem.


Ezra before King Artaxerxes

Revolt in Egypt, Athenian Disaster


Artaxerxes was to begin his reign as his father did with unrest in Egypt . In 460 B.C. Inarus, son of an ex-pharoh,started a revolt in Egypt after the murder of Xerxes .He visited Pericles in Athens seeking aid against the Persians .The Athenians decided to follow up on their victory at Eurymedon and sent an army to to Egypt and killed the Persian satrap Achaemenes, one of Artaxerxes ' brothers  at the battle of Pampremis. However, a Persian army under the Syrian satrap Megabazos defeated the Athenians at the battle of Prosoptis in 454 B.C. The egyptian revolt was put down and  Inarus was captured by Megabazos a year later and sent to Susa as a captive where he was later executed .

 coin of Artaxerxes I

The Loss of Cyprus


Six years after this, the Athenians resolved on another effort. A fleet of 200 ships was equipped and placed under the command of the victor of the Eurymedon, Cimon, with orders to proceed into the Eastern Mediterranean, and seek to recover the laurels lost in Egypt.The Athenian fleet, Sailing past Salamis  in Cyprus, it found there a Cilician and Phoenician fleet, consisting of 300 vessels, which it immediately attacked and defeated, notwithstanding the disparity of number. Besides the ships which were sunk, a hundred triremes were taken; and the sailors then landed and gained a victory over a Persian army upon the shore.


Peace Treaty with Athens




Artaxerxes, upon this, fearing lest he should lose Cyprus altogether, and thinking that, if Athens became mistress of this important island, she would always be fomenting insurrection in Egypt, made overtures for peace to the generals who were now in command. His propositions were favorably received. Peace was made on the following terms:


A delegation led by Callias was sent to Susa . At these talks the Persian empire recognized the supremecy of Athens over the Ionian states in the Delian League and was prepared to give autonomy to those still under Persian rule. No Persian troops were to approach closer than 50 miles from the Athenian controlled cities of Asia Minor . Athens agreed to abandon recently conquered Cyprus and aid to the rebellion in Egypt .


The sea was divided between the two powers, Persian ships of war were not to sail to the west of Phaselis in the Levant, or of the Cyanean islands in the Euxine; and Greek war-ships, we may assume, were not to show themselves east of those limits. On these conditions there was to be peace and amity between the Greeks and the Persians, and neither nation was to undertake any expeditions against the territories of the other. Thus terminated the first period of hostility between Greece and Persia, a period of exactly half a century, commencing B.C. 499 and. ending B.C. 449, in the seventeenth year of Artaxerxes.


Athens pursued a friendly policy torward Persia during the archonship of Pericles, in part due to the leniency showed by Megabyzus torward captured Greek generals in Egypt and the conflict with Sparta in the Peloponnesian War Artaxerxes survived the "Peace of Callias" twenty-four years. His relations with the Greeks continued friendly till his demise, though, on the occasion of the revolt of Samos (B.C. 440), Pissuthnes, satrap of Sardis, seems to have transgressed the terms of the treaty, and to have nearly brought about a renewal of hostilities. It was probably in retaliation for the aid given to the revolted Samians, that the Athenians, late in the reign of Artaxerxes, made an expedition against Caunus, which might have had important consequences, if the Caunians had not been firm in their allegiance. A revolt of Lycia and Caria under Zopyrus, the son of Megabyzus, assisted by the Greeks, might have proved even more difficult to subdue than the rebellion of Syria under his father. Persia, however, escaped this danger; and Artaxerxes, no doubt, saw with pleasure a few years later the Greeks turn their arms against each other thens, his great enemy, being forced into a contest for existence with the Peloponnesian confederacy under Sparta.


It was probably not many years after the conclusion of this peace that a rebellion broke out in Syria. Megabyzus, the satrap of that important province, offended at the execution of Inarus, in violation of the promise which he had himself made to him, raised a revolt against his sovereign, defeated repeatedly the armies sent to reduce him to obedience, and finally treated with Artaxerxes as to the terms on which he would consent to be reconciled. Thus was set an example, if not of successful insurrection, yet at any rate of the possibility of rebelling with impunity example which could not fail to have a mischievous effect on the future relations of the monarch with his satraps. It would have been better for the Empire had Megabyzus suffered the fate of Oroetes, instead of living to a good old age in high favor with the monarch whose power he had weakened and defied.


Artaxerxes offered Themistocles asylum, after Themistocles was ostracized from Athens . He was well received by the Persians and was allowed to settle in Magnesia in Thessaly .


Artaxerxes permitted Nehemiah to return and rebuild Jerusalem.


Like his father, Artaxerxes appears to have had but one legitimate wife. This was a certain Damaspia, of whom nothing is known, except that she died on the same day as her husband, and was the mother of his only legitimate son, Xerxes. Seventeen other sons, who survived him, were the issue of various concubines, chiefly?t would appear?abylonians. Xerxes II. succeeded to the throne on the death of his father (B.C. 425), but reigned forty-five days only, being murdered after a festival, in which he had indulged too freely, by his half-brother, Secydianus or Sogdianus. Secydianus enjoyed the sovereignty for little more than half a year, when he was in his turn put to death by another, brother, Ochus, who on ascending the throne took the name of Darius, and became known to the Greeks as Darius Nothus.



 Xerxes I


 Darius II