Artaxerxes II  Mnemon (436 358 B.C.)

Gold Daric of Artaxerxes II

Shortly before the death of Darius there seems to have been a doubt raised as to the succession. Parysatis, who preferred her second son to her first-born, imagined that her influence was sufficient to induce her husband to nominate Cyrus, instead of Arsaces, to succeed him; and Cyrus is said to have himself expected to be preferred above his brother. He had the claim, if claim it can be called, that he was the first son born to his father after he became king; but his main dependence was doubtless on his mother. Darius, however, proved less facile in his dying moments than he had been during most of his life, and declined to set aside the rights of the eldest son on the frivolous pretense suggested to him. His own feelings may have inclined him towards Arsaces (whose name changed to Artaxerxes II when he ascended the throne), who resembled him far more than Cyrus did in character; and Cyrus, moreover, had recently offended him, and been summoned to court, to answer a very serious charge. Arsaces, therefore, was nominated, and took the name of Artaxerxes one of a king who had reigned long, and, on the whole, prosperously.


Artaxerxes' Brother Cyrus tries for the Throne


An incident of ill omen accompanied the commencement of the new reign (B.C. 405). The inauguration of the monarch was a religious ceremony, and took place in a temple at Pasargadae, the old capital, to which a peculiar sanctity was still regarded as attaching. Artaxerxes had proceeded to this place, and was about to engage in the ceremonies, when he was interrupted by Tissaphernes, who informed him that his life was in danger. Cyrus, he said, proposed to hide himself in the temple, and assassinate him as he changed his dress, a necessary part of the formalities. One of the officiating priests or Magus, as it would seemed confirmed the charge. Cyrus was immediately arrested, and would have been put to death on the spot, had not his mother interfered, and, embracing him in her arms, made it impossible for the executioner to perform his task. With some difficulty she persuaded Artaxerxes to spare his brother's life and allow him to return to his government, assuring him, and perhaps believing, that the charges made against her favorite were without foundation.


Cyrus raises an Army


Cyrus returned to Asia Minor with the full determination of attacking his brother at the earliest opportunity. He immediately began the collection of a mercenary force, composed wholly of Greeks, on whose arms he was disposed to place far more reliance than on those of Orientals. As Tissaphernes had returned to the coast with him, and was closely watching all his proceedings, it was necessary to exercise great caution, lest his intentions should become known before he was ready to put them into execution. He therefore had recourse to three different devices. Having found a cause of quarrel with Tissaphernes in the ambiguous terms of their respective commissions, he pressed it on to an actual war, which enabled him to hire troops openly, as against this enemy; and in this way he collected from 5000 to 6000 Greeks chiefly Peloponnesians.

He further gave secret commissions to Greek officers, whose acquaintance he had made when he was previously in these parts, to collect men for him, whom they were to employ in their own quarrels until he needed their services. From 3000 to 4000 troops were gathered for him by these persons. Finally, when he found himself nearly ready to commence his march, he discovered a new foe in the Pisidians of the Western Taurus, and proceeded to levy a force against them, which amounted to some thousands more. In all, he had in readiness 11,000 heavy-armed and about 2000 light-armed Greeks before his purpose became so clear that Tissaphernes could no longer mistake it, and therefore started off to carry his somewhat tardy intelligence to the capital.

The aims of Cyrus were different from those of ordinary rebel satraps; and we must go back to the times of Darius Hystaspis in order to find a parallel to them.

Instead of seeking to free a province from the Persian yoke, or to carve out for himself an independent sovereignty in some remote corner of the Empire, his intention was to dethrone his brother, and place on his own brows the diadem of his great namesake. It was necessary for him therefore to assume the offensive. Only by a bold advance, and by taking his enemy to some extent unprepared, and so at a disadvantage, could he hope to succeed in his audacious project. It is not easy to see that he could have had any considerable party among the Persians, or any ground for expecting to be supported by any of the subject nations. His following must have been purely personal; and though it may be true that he was of a character to win more admiration and affection than his brother, yet Artaxerxes himself was far from being unpopular with his subjects, whom he pleased by a familiarity and a good-nature to which they were little accustomed. Cyrus knew that his principal dependence must be on himself, on his Greeks, and on the carelessness and dilatoriness of his adversary, who was destitute of military talent and was even thought to be devoid of personal bravery.


The Battle of Cunaxa


Thus it was important to advance as soon as possible. Cyrus therefore quitted Sardis before all his troops were collected (B.C. 401), and marched through Lydia and Phrygia, by the route formally followed in the reverse direction by the army of Xerxes, as far as Celsense, where the remainder of his mercenaries joined him. With his Greek force thus raised to 13,000 men, and with a native army not much short of 100,000, he proceeded on through Phrygia and Lycaonia to the borders of Cilicia, having determined on taking the shortest route to Babylon, through the Cilician and Syrian passes, and then along the course of the Euphrates. At Caystrupedion he was met by Epyaxa, consort of Syennesis, the tributary king of Cilicia, who brought him a welcome supply of money, and probably assured him of the friendly disposition of her husband, who was anxious to stand well with both sides. In Lycaonia, Cyrus divided his forces, and sending a small body of troops under Menon to escort Epyaxa across the mountains and enter Cilicia by the more western of the two practicable passes he proceeded himself with the bulk of his troops to the famous Pylae Cilicias, where he probably knew that Syennesis would only make a feint of resistance. He found the pass occupied; but it was evacuated the next day, on the receipt of intelligence that Menon had already entered the country and that the fleet of Cyrus composed partly of his own ships, partly of a squadron furnished to him by Sparta and appeared off the coast and threatened a landing. Cyrus thus crossed the most difficult and dangerous of all the passes that separated him from the heart of the Empire, without the loss of a man.



 The video presents some basic information about the incidents that took place before and after the Battle of Cunaxa (401 BC), where Cyrus wanted to usurp the throne of Persia from his brother Artaxerxes. The Greeks (Ten Thousand, Myrioi) in order to pay back Cyrus for his help in the Peloponnesian War march against Artaxerxes.  Although the Greeks destroy the numerous opponents, their victory is of no interest, as Cyrus dies in an attempt to kill his brother. The tragedy for the Greek mercenaries starts. In a journey of almost 8 months, Xenophon, the author of "Anabasis" and a soldier with the rest of the "Myrioi", after many dangers in the hostile Persian empire and only with half of them left, eventually go home. The journey it narrates is his best known accomplishment and "one of the great adventures in human history," as Will Durant expressed the common assessment.

Greek Mercenaries threaten to go home


Thus far it would appear that Cyrus had to a certain extent masked his plans. The Greek captains must have guessed, if they had not actually learnt, his intentions; but to the bulk of the soldiery they had been hitherto absolutely unknown. It was only in Cilicia that the light broke in upon them, and they began to suspect that they were being marched into the interior of Asia, there to engage in a contest with the entire power of the Great King. Something of the horror which is ascribed to Cleomenes, when it was suggested to him a century earlier that he should conduct his Spartans the distance of a three months' journey from the sea, appears to have taken possession of the minds of the mercenaries on their awaking to this conviction. They at once refused to proceed. It was only by the most skillful management on the part of their captains, joined to a judicious liberality on the part of Cyrus, that they were induced to forego their intention of returning home at once, and so breaking up the expedition. A perception of the difficulty of effecting a retreat, together with an increase of pay, extorted a reluctant assent to continue the march, of which the real term and object were even now not distinctly avowed. Cyrus said he proposed to attack the army of Abrocomas, which he believed to be posted on the Euphrates. If he did not find it there, a fresh consultation might be held to consider any further movement.

The march now proceeded rapidly. The gates of Syria narrow pass on the east coast of the Gulf of Issus, shut in, like Thermopylae, between the mountains and the sea, and strengthened moreover by fortifications ere left unguarded by Abrocomas; and the army, having traversed them without loss, crossed the Amanus range by the pass of Beilan, and in twenty-nine days from Tarsus reached Thapsacus on the Euphrates. The forces of Artaxerxes had nowhere made their appearance brocomas, though he had 300,000 men at his disposal, had weakly or treacherously abandoned all these strong and easily defensible positions; he does not seem even to have wasted the country; but, having burnt the boats at Thapsacus, he was content to fall back upon Phoenicia, and left the way to Babylon and Susa open.

At Thapsacus there was little difficulty in persuading the Greeks, who had no longer the sea before their eyes, to continue the march; they only stipulated for a further increase of pay, which was readily promised them by the sanguine prince, who believed himself on the point of obtaining by their aid the inexhaustible treasures of the Empire. The river, which happened to be unusually low for the time of year, was easily forded. Cyrus entered Mesopotamia, and continued his march down the left bank of the Euphrates at the quickest rate that it was possible to move a hundred thousand Orientals. In thirty-three days he had accomplished above 600 miles, and had approached within 120 miles of Babylon without seeing any traces of an enemy. His only difficulties were from the nature of the country, which, after the Khabour is passed, becomes barren, excepting close along the river. From want of fodder there was a great mortality among the baggage-animals; the price of grain rose; and the Greeks had to subsist almost entirely upon meat. At last, when the Babylonian alluvium was reached, with its abundance of fodder and corn, signs of the enemy began to be observed. Artaxerxes, who after some doubts and misgivings had finally determined to give his enemy battle in the plain, was already on his way from Babylon, with an army reckoned at 900,000 men and had sent forward a body of horse, partly to reconnoitre, partly to destroy the crops, in order to prevent Cyrus and his troops from benefiting by them. Cyrus now advanced slowly and cautiously, at the rate of about fourteen miles a day, expecting each morning to fight a general engagement before evening came.

On the third night, believing the battle to be imminent, he distributed the commands and laid down a plan of operations. But morning brought no appearance of the enemy, and the whole day passed tranquilly. In the course of it, he came upon a wide and deep trench cut through the plain for a distance of above forty miles recent work, which Artaxerxes had intended as a barrier to stop the progress of his enemy. But the trench was undefended and incomplete, a space of twenty feet being left between its termination and the Euphrates. Cyrus, having passed it, began to be convinced that his brother would not risk a battle in the plain, but would retreat to the mountains and make his stand at Persepolis or Ecbatana. He therefore continued his march negligently. His men piled their arms on the wagons or laid them, across the beasts of burthen; while he himself exchanged the horse which he usually rode for a chariot, and proceeded on his way leisurely, having about his person a small escort, which preserved their ranks, while all the rest of the troops were allowed to advance in complete disarray.

Suddenly, as the army was proceeding in this disorderly manner through the plain, a single horseman was perceived advancing at full gallop from the opposite quarter, his steed all flecked with foam. As he drew near, he shouted aloud to those whom he met, addressing some in Greek, others in Persian, and warning them that the Great King, with his whole force, was close at hand, and rapidly approaching in order of battle. The news took every one by surprise, and at first all was hurry and confusion. The Greeks, however, who were on the right, rapidly marshaled their line, resting it upon the river; while Cyrus put on his armor, mounted his horse, and arranged the ranks of his Asiatics. Ample time was given for completing all the necessary dispositions; since three hours, at the least, must have elapsed from the announcement of the enemy's approach before he actually appeared.

Then a white cloud of dust arose towards the verge of the horizon, below which a part of the plain began soon to darken; presently gleams of light were seen to flash out from the dense mass which was advancing, the serried lines of spears came into view, and the component parts of the huge army grew to be discernible. On the extreme left was a body of horsemen with white cuirasses, commanded by Tissaphernes; next came infantry, carrying the long wicker shield, or gerrhum then a solid square of Egyptians, heavily armed, and bearing wooden shields that reached to the feet; then the contingents of many different nations, some on foot, some on horseback, armed with bows and other weapons. The line stretched away to the east further than the Greeks, who were stationed on the right, could see, extending (as it would seem) more than twice the distance which was covered by the army of Cyrus. Artaxerxes was in the centre of his line, on horseback, surrounded by a mounted guard of 6000 Persians. In front of the line, towards the river, were drawn up at wide intervals a hundred and fifty scythed chariots, which were designed to carry terror and confusion into the ranks of the Greeks.

On the other side, Cyrus had upon the extreme right a thousand Paphlagonian cavalry with the more lightly armed of the Greeks; next, the Greek heavy-armed, under Clearchus; and then his Asiatics, stretching in a line to about the middle of his adversary's army, his own special command being in the centre; and his left wing being led by the satrap, Ariaeus. With Ariseus was posted the great mass of the cavalry; but a band of six hundred, clad in complete armor, with their horses also partially armed, waited on Cyrus himself, and accompanied him wherever he went. As the enemy drew near, and Cyrus saw how much he was outflanked upon the left, he made an attempt to remedy the evil by ordering Clearchus to move with his troops from the extreme right to the extreme left of the line, where he would be opposite to Artaxerxes himself. This, no doubt, would have been a hazardous movement to make in the face of a superior enemy; and Clearchus, feeling this, and regarding the execution of the order as left to his discretion, declined to move away from the river. Cyrus, who trusted much to the Greek general's judgment, did not any further press the change, but prepared to fight the battle as he stood.

The combat began upon the right. When the enemy had approached within six or seven hundred yards, the impatience of the Greeks to engage could not be restrained. They sang the paean and started forwards at a pace which in a short time became a run. The Persians did not await their charge. The drivers leaped from their chariots, the line of battle behind them wavered, and then turned and fled without striking a blow. One Greek only was wounded by an arrow. As for the scythed chariots, they damaged their own side more than the Greeks; for the frightened horses in many cases, carried the vehicles into the thick of the fugitives, while the Greeks opened their ranks and gave passage to such as charged in an opposite direction. Moderating their pace so as to preserve their tactical arrangement, but still advancing with great rapidity, the Greeks pressed on the flying enemy, and pursued him a distance of two or three miles, never giving a thought to Cyrus, who, they supposed, would conquer those opposed to him with as much ease as themselves.


The Death of Cyrus




But the prince meanwhile was in difficulties. Finding himself outnumbered and outflanked, and fearing that his whole army would be surrounded, and even the victorious Greeks attacked in the rear, he set all upon one desperate cast and charged with his Six Hundred against the six thousand horse who protected his brother. Artagerses, their commander, who met him with a Homeric invective, he slew with his own hand. The six thousand were routed and took to flight; the person of the king was exposed to view; and Cyrus, transported at the sight, rushed forward shouting, "I see the man," and hurling his javelin, struck him straight upon the breast, with such force that the cuirass was pierced and a slight flesh-wound inflicted. The king fell from his horse; but at the same moment Cyrus received a wound beneath the eye from the javelin of a Persian, and in the melee which followed he was slain with eight of his followers. The Six Hundred could lend no effectual aid, because they had rashly dispersed in pursuit of the flying enemy.

As the whole contest was a personal one, the victory was now decided. Fighting, however, continued till nightfall. On learning the death of their leader, the Asiatic troops under Ariseus fled first to their camp, and then, when Artaxerxes attacked them there, to the last night's station. The Grecian camp was assaulted by Tissaphernes, who at the beginning of the battle had charged through the Greek light-armed, without however, inflicting on them any loss, and had then pressed on, thinking to capture the Grecian baggage. But the guard defended their camp with success, and slew many of the assailants. Tissaphernes and the king drew off after a while, and retraced their steps, in order to complete the victory by routing the troops of Clearchus. Clearchus was at the same time returning from his pursuit, having heard that his camp was in danger, and as the two bodies of troops approached, he found his right threatened by the entire host of the enemy, which might have lapped round it and attacked it in front, in flank, and in rear. To escape this peril he was about to wheel his line and make it rest alone its whole extent upon the river, when the Persians passed him and resumed the position which they had occupied at the beginning of the battle. They were then about to attack, when once more the Greeks anticipated them and charged. The effect was again ludicrous.

The Persians would not abide the onset, but fled faster than before. The Greeks pursued them to a village, close by which was a knoll or mound, whither the fugitives had betaken themselves. Again the Greeks made a movement in advance, and immediately the flight recommenced. The last rays of the setting sun fell on scattered masses of Persian horse and foot flying in all directions over the plain from the little band of Greeks.

The battle of Cunaxa was a double blow to the Persian power. By the death of Cyrus there was lost the sole chance that existed of such a re-invigoration of the Empire as might have enabled it to start again on a new lease of life, with ability to held its own, and strength to resume once more the aggressive attitude of former times. The talents of Cyrus have perhaps been overrated, but he was certainly very superior to most Orientals; and there can be no doubt that the Empire would have greatly gained by the substitution of his rule for that of his brother. He was active, energetic, prompt indeed, ready in speech, faithful in the observance of his engagements, brave, liberal he had more foresight and more self-control than most Asiatics; he knew how to deal with different classes of men; he had a great power of inspiring affection and retaining it; he was free from the folly of national prejudice, and could appreciate as they deserved both the character and the institutions of foreigners. It is likely that he would have proved a better administrator and ruler than any king of Persia since Darius Hystaspis. He would, therefore, undoubtedly have raised his country to some extent.

Whether he could really have arrested its decline, and enabled it to avenge the humiliations of Marathon, Salamis, and the peace of Callias, is, however, exceedingly doubtful. For Cyrus, though he had considerable merits, was not without great and grievous defects. As the Tartar is said always to underlie the Russ, so the true Oriental underlay that coating of Grecian manners and modes of thought and act, with which a real admiration of the Hellenic race induced Cyrus to conceal his native barbarism. When he slew his cousins for an act which he chose to construe as disrespect, and when he executed Orontes for contemplated desertion, secretly and silently, so that no one knew his fate, when transported with jealous rage he rushed madly upon his brother, exposing to hazard the success of all his carefully formed plans, and in fact ruining his cause, the acquired habits of the Phil-Hellene gave way, and the native ferocity of the Asiatic came to the surface. We see Cyrus under favorable circumstances, while conciliation, tact, and self-restraint were necessities of his position, without which he could not possibly gain his ends?e do not know what effect success and the possession of supreme power might have had upon his temper and conduct; but from the acts above-mentioned we may at any rate suspect that the result would have been very injurious.

Again, intellectually, Cyrus is only great for an Asiatic. He has more method, more foresight, more power of combination, more breadth of mind than the other Asiatics of his day, or than the vast mass of Asiatics of any day. But he is not entitled to the praise of a great administrator or of a great general. His three years' administration of Asia Minor was chiefly marked by a barbarous severity towards criminals, and by a lavish expenditure of the resources of his government, which left him in actual want at the moment when he was about to commence his expedition. His generalship failed signally at the battle of Cunaxa, for the loss of which he is far more to be blamed than Clearchus.

As he well knew that Artaxerxes was sure to occupy the centre of his line of battle, he should have placed his Greeks in the middle of his own line, not at one extremity. When he saw how much his adversary outflanked him on the left? contingency which was so probable that it ought to have occurred to him beforehand?e should have deployed his line in that direction, instead of ordering such a movement as Clearchus, not unwisely, declined to execute. He might have trusted the Greeks to fight in line, as they had fought at Marathon; and by expanding their ranks, and moving off his Asiatics to the left, he might, have avoided the danger of being outflanked and surrounded. But his capital error was the wildness and abandon of his charge with the Six Hundred? charge which it was probably right to make under the circumstances, but which required a combination of coolness and courage that the Persian prince evidently did not possess when his feelings were excited. Had he kept his Six Hundred well in hand, checked their pursuit, and abstained from thrusting his own person into unnecessary danger, he might have joined the Greeks as they returned from their first victory and participated in their final triumph. At the same time, Clearchus cannot but be blamed for pushing his suit too far. If, when the enemy in his front fled, he had at once turned against those who were engaging Cyrus, taking them on their left flank, which must have been completely uncovered, he might have been in time to prevent the fatal results of the rash charge made by his leader.


The effect of The retreat of the 10,000 Greek Mercenaries under Xenophon  ( Anabasis )



Route of Xenophon and the 10,000 490 B.C. The 70's movie

The Warriors was based on this event


Thus the death of Cyrus, though a calamity to Persia, was scarcely the great loss which it has been represented. A far worse result of the Greek expedition was the revelation which it made of the weakness of Persia, and of the facility with which a Greek force might penetrate to the very midst of the Empire, defeat the largest army that could be brought against it, and remain, or return, as it might think proper. Hitherto Babylon and Susa had been, even to the mind of a Greek statesman, remote localities, which it would be the extreme of rashness to attempt to reach by force of arms, and from which it would be utter folly to suppose that a single man could return alive except by permission of the Great King. Henceforth these towns were looked upon as prizes quite within the legitimate scope of Greek ambition, and their conquest came to be viewed as little more than a question of time. The opinion of inaccessibility, which had been Persia's safeguard hitherto, was gone, and in its stead grew up a conviction that the heart of the Empire might be reached with very little difficulty.

Thalatta, Thalatta ! The Sea ! The Sea ! Xenophon's

10,000 reach the Black Sea


It required, however, for the production of this whole change, not merely that the advance to Cunaxa should have been safely made, and the immeasurable superiority of Greek to Asiatic soldiers there exhibited, but also that the retreat should have been effected, as it was effected, without disaster. Had the Ten Thousand perished under the attacks of the Persian horse, or even under the weapons of the Kurds, or amid the snows of Armenia, the opinion of Persian invulnerability would have been strengthened rather than weakened by the expedition. But the return to Greece of ten thousand men, who had defeated the hosts of the Great King in the center of his dominions, and fought their way back to the sea without suffering more than the common casualties of war, was an evidence of weakness which could not but become generally known, and of which all could feel the force. Hence the retreat was as important as the battle. If in late autumn and mid-winter a small Greek army, without maps or guides, could make its way for a thousand miles through Asia, and encounter no foe over whom it could not easily triumph, it was clear that the fabric of Persian power was rotten, and would collapse on the first serious attack.

Still, it will not be necessary to trace in detail the steps of the retreat. It was the fact of the return, rather than the mode of its accomplishment, which importantly affected the subsequent history of Persia. We need only note that the retreat was successfully conducted in spite, not merely of the military power of the Empire, but of the most barefaced and cruel treachery? fact which showed clearly the strong desire that there was to hinder the invaders' escape. Persia did not set much store by her honor at this period; but she would scarcely have pledged her word and broken it, without the slightest shadow of excuse, unless she had regarded the object to be accomplished as one of vast importance, and seen no other way which offered any prospect of the desired result. Her failure, despite the success of her treachery, places her military weakness in the strongest possible light. The Greeks, though deprived of their leaders, deceived, surprised, and hemmed in by superior numbers, amid terrific mountains, precipices, and snows, forced their way by sheer dogged perseverance through all obstacles, and reached Trebizond with the loss of not one fourth of their original number.

There was also another discovery made during the return which partly indicated the weakness of the Persian power, and partly accounted for it. The Greeks had believed that the whole vast space enclosed between the Black Sea, Caucasus, Caspian, and Jaxartes on the one hand, and the Arabian Desert, Persian Gulf, and Indian Ocean on the other, was bound together into one single centralized monarchy, all the resources of which were wielded by a single arm. They now found that even towards the heart of the empire, on the confines of Media and Assyria, there existed independent tribes which set the arms of Persia at defiance; while towards the verge of the old dominion whole provinces, once certainly held in subjection, had fallen away from the declining State, and succeeded in establishing their freedom. The nineteenth satrapy of Herodotus existed no more; in lieu of it was a mass of warlike and autonomous tribes: Halybes, Taochi, Chaldeans, Macronians, Scythians, Colchians, Mosynoecians, Tibarenians those services, if he needed them, the King of Persia had to buy, while ordinarily their attitude towards him was one of distrust and hostility. Judging of the unknown from the known, the Greeks might reasonably conclude that in all parts of the Empire similar defections had occurred, and that thus both the dimensions and the resources of the state had suffered serious diminution, and fell far below the conception which they had been accustomed to form of them.


War with Sparta


The immediate consequence of the Greek expedition was a rupture between Persia and Sparta. Sparta had given aid to Cyrus, and thus provoked the hostility of the Great King. She was not inclined to apologize or to recede. On the contrary, she saw in the circumstances of the expedition strong grounds for anticipating great advantages to herself from a war with so weak an antagonist. Having, therefore, secured the services of the returned Ten Thousand, she undertook the protection of the Asiatic Greeks against Persia, and carried on a war upon the continent against the satraps of Lydia and Phrygia for the space of six years (B.C. 399 to B.C. 394). The disorganization of the Persian Empire became very manifest during this period. So jealous were the two satraps of each other, that either was willing at any time to make a truce with the Spartans on condition that they proceeded to attack the other; and, on one occasion, as much as thirty silver talents was paid by a satrap on the condition that the war should be transferred from his own government to that, of his rival. At the same time the native tribes were becoming more and more inclined to rebel. The Mysians and Pisidians had for a long time been practically independent. Now the Bithynians showed a disposition to shake off the Persian yoke, while in Paphlagonia the native monarchs boldly renounced their allegiance. Agesilaus, who carried on the war in Asia Minor for three years, knew well how to avail himself of all these advantageous circumstances; and it is not unlikely that he would have effected the separation from Persia of the entire peninsula, had he been able to continue the struggle a few years longer.


Persia subsides Sparta's enemies, allies with Athens

But the league between Argos, Thebes, and Corinth, which jealousy of Sparta caused and Persian gold promoted, proved so formidable, that Agesilaus had to be summoned home: and after his departure, Conon, in alliance with Pharnabazus, recovered the supremacy of the sea for Athens, and greatly weakened Spartan influence in Asia. Not content with this result, the two friends, in the year B.C. 393, sailed across the Aegean, and the portentous spectacle of a Persian fleet in Greek waters was once more seen?his time in alliance with Athens! Descents were made upon the coasts of the Peloponnese, and the island of Cythera was seized and occupied. The long walls of Athens were rebuilt with Persian money, and all the enemies of Sparta were richly subsidized. Sparta was made to feel that if she had been able at one time to make the Great King tremble for his provinces, or even for his throne, the King could at another reach her across the Aegean, and approach Sparta as nearly as she had, with the 10,000, approached Babylon.


A new treaty with Persia 393 B.C.


The lesson of the year B.C. 393 was not thrown away on the Spartan government. The leading men became convinced that unless they could secure the neutrality of the Persians, Sparta must succumb to the hostility of her Hellenic enemies. Under these circumstances they devised, with much skill, a scheme likely to be acceptable to the Persians, which would weaken their chief rivals in Greece, Athens and Thebes while it would leave untouched their own power. They proposed a general peace, the conditions of which should be the entire relinquishment of Asia to the Persians, and the complete autonomy of all the Greek States in Europe. The first attempt to procure the acceptance of these terms failed (B.C. 393); but six years later, after Antalcidas had explained them at the Persian Court, Artaxerxes sent down an ultimatum to the disputants, modifying the terms slightly as regarded Athens, extending them as regarded himself so as to include the islands of Clazomenae and Cyprus, and requiring their acceptance by all the belligerents, on pain of their incurring his hostility. To this threat all yielded. A Persian king may be excused if he felt it a proud achievement thus to dictate a peace to the Greeks peace, moreover, which annulled the treaty of Callias, and gave back absolutely into his hands a province which had ceased to belong to his Empire more than sixty years previously.


Revolt of Cyprus


It was the more important to Artaxerxes that his relations with the European Greeks should be put upon a peaceful footing, since all the resources of the Empire were wanted for the repression of disturbances which had some years previously broken out in Cyprus. The exact date of the Cyprian revolt under Evagoras, the Greek tyrant of Salamis, is uncertain; but there is evidence that, at least as early as B.C. 391, he was at open war with the power of Persia, and had made an alliance with the Athenians, who both in that year and in B.C. 388 sent him aid. Assisted also by Achoris, independent monarch of Egypt, and Hecatomnus, vassal king of Caria, he was able to take the offensive, to conquer Tyre, and extend his revolt into Cilicia and Idumaea. An expedition undertaken against him by Autophradates, satrap of Lydia, seems to have failed. It was the first object of the Persians, after concluding the "Peace of Antalcidas," to crush Evagoras. They collected 300 vessels, partly from the Greeks of Asia, and brought together an army of 300,000 men. The fleet of Evagoras numbered 200 triremes, and with these he ventured on an attack, but was completely defeated by Tiribazus, who shut him up in Salamis, and, after a struggle which continued for at least six years, compelled him to submit to terms (B.C. 380 or 379). More fortunate than former rebels, he obtained not merely a promise of pardon, which would probably have been violated, but a recognition of his title, and permission to remain in his government, with the single obligation of furnishing to the Great King a certain annual tribute.


Cadusian Revolt


During the continuance of this war, Artaxerxes was personally engaged in military operations in another part of his dominions. The Cadusians, who inhabited the low and fertile tract between the Elburz range and the Caspian, having revolted against his authority, Artaxerxes invaded their territory at the head of an army which is estimated at 300,000 foot and 10,000 horse. The land was little cultivated, rugged, and covered with constant fogs; the men were brave and warlike, and having admitted him into their country, seem to have waylaid and intercepted his convoys. His army was soon reduced to great straits, and forced to subsist on the cavalry horses and the baggage-animals. A most disastrous result must have followed, had not Tiribazus, who had been recalled from Cyprus on charges preferred against him by the commander of the land force, Orontes, contrived very artfully to induce the rebels to make their submission. Artaxerxes was thus enabled to withdraw from the country without serious disaster, having shown in his short campaign that he possessed the qualities of a soldier, but was entirely deficient in those of a general.

A time of comparative tranquility seems to have followed the Cadusian campaign. Artaxerxes strengthened his hold upon the Asiatic Greeks by razing some of their towns and placing garrisons in others. His satraps even ventured to commence the absorption of the islands off the coast; and there is evidence that Sanaos, at any rate, was reduced and added to the Empire. Cilicia, Phoenicia, and Idumaea were doubtless recovered soon after the great defeat of Evagoras.




There remained only one province in this quarter which still maintained its revolt, and enjoyed, under native monarchs, the advantages of independence. This was Egypt, which had now continued free for above thirty years, since it shook off the yoke of Darius Nothus. Artaxerxes, anxious to recover this portion of his ancestral dominions, applied in B.C. 375 to Athens for the services of her great general, Iphicrates. His request was granted, and in the next year a vast armament was assembled at Acre under Iphicrates and Pharnabazus, which effected a successful landing in the Delta at the Mendesian mouth of the Nile, stormed the town commanding this branch of the river, and might have taken Memphis, could the energetic advice of the Athenian have stirred to action the sluggish temper of his Persian colleague. But Pharnabazus declined to be hurried, and preferred to proceed leisurely and according to rule. The result was that the season for hostilities passed and nothing had been done. The Nile rose as the summer drew on, and flooded most of the Delta; the expedition could effect nothing, and had to return. Pharnabazus and Iphicrates parted amid mutual recriminations; and the reduction of Egypt was deferred for above a quarter of a century.




In Greece, however, the Great King still retained that position of supreme arbiter with which he had been invested at the "Peace of Antalcidas." In B.C. 372 Antalcidas was sent by Sparta a second time up to Susa, for the purpose of obtaining an imperial rescript, prescribing the terms on which the then existing hostilities among the Greeks should cease. In B.C. 367 Pelopidas and Ismenias proceeded with the same object from Thebes to the Persian capital. In the following year a rescript, more in their favor than former ones, was obtained by Athens. Thus every one of the leading powers of Greece applied in turn to the Great King for his royal mandate, so erecting him by common consent into a sort of superior, whose decision was to be final in all cases of Greek quarrel.


The last Years of Artaxerxes, Satrap revolts


But this external acknowledgment of the imperial greatness of Persia did not, and could not, check the internal decay and tendency to disintegration, which was gradually gaining head, and threatening the speedy dissolution of the Empire. The long reign of Artaxerxes Mnemon was now verging towards its close. He was advanced in years, and enfeebled in mind and body, suspicious of his sons and of his nobles, especially of such as showed more than common ability. Under these circumstances, revolts on the part of satraps grew frequent.


First Ariobarzanes, satrap of Phrygia, renounced his allegiance (B.C. 366), and defended himself with success against Autophradates, satrap of Lydia, and Mausolus, native king of Caria under Persia, to whom the task of reducing him had been entrusted. Then Aspis, who held a part of Cappadocia, revolted and maintained himself by the help of the Pisidians, until he was overpowered by Datames. Next Datames himself, satrap of the rest of Cappadocia, understanding that Artaxerxes' mind was poisoned against him, made a treaty with Ariobarzanes, and assumed an independent attitude in his own province. In this position he resisted all the efforts of Autophradates to reduce him to obedience; and Artaxerxes condescended first to make terms with him and then to remove him by treachery. Finally (B.C. 362), there seems to have been something like a general revolt of the western provinces, in which the satraps of Mysia, Phrygia, and Lydia, Mausolus, prince of Caria, and the people of Lycia, Pamphylia, Cilicia, Syria, and Phoenicia participated. Tachos, king of Egypt, fomented the disturbances, which were also secretly encouraged by the Spartans.


A terrible conflict appeared to be imminent; but it was avoided by the ordinary resources of bribery and treachery. Orontes, satrap of Phrygia, and Rheomithras, one of the revolted generals, yielding to the attractions of Persian gold, deserted and betrayed their confederates. The insurrection was in this way quelled, but it had raised hopes in Egypt, which did not at once subside. Tachos, the native king, having secured the services of Agesilaus as general, and of Chabrias, the Athenian, as admiral of his fleet, boldly advanced into Syria, was well received by the Phoenicians, and commenced the siege of some of the Syrian cities. Persia might have suffered considerable loss in this quarter, had not the internal quarrels of the Egyptians among themselves proved a better protection to her than her own armies. Two pretenders to the throne sprang up as soon as Tachos had quitted the country, and he was compelled to return to Egypt in order to resist them. The force intended to strike a vigorous blow against the power of Artaxerxes was dissipated in civil conflicts; and Persia had once more to congratulate herself on the intestine divisions of her adversaries.


A few years after this, Artaxerxes died, having reigned forty-six years, and lived, if we may trust Plutarch, ninety-four. Like most of the later Persian kings, he was unfortunate in his domestic relations. To his original queen, Statira, he was indeed fondly attached; and she appears to have merited and returned his love, but in all other respects his private life was unhappy. Its chief curse was Parysatis, the queen-mother. This monster of cruelty held Artaxerxes in a species of bondage during almost the whole of his long reign, and acted as if she were the real sovereign of the country. She encouraged Cyrus in his treason, and brought to most horrible ends all those who had been prominent in frustrating it. She poisoned Statira out of hatred and jealousy, because she had a certain degree of influence over her husband. She encouraged Artaxerxes to contract an incestuous marriage with his daughter Atossa, a marriage which proved a fertile source of further calamities.


Heirs grapple for the throne


Artaxerxes had three sons by his wife Stateira , Ariaspes, and Ochus. Of these Darius, as the eldest, was formally declared the heir. But Ochus, ambitious of reigning, intrigued with Atossa, and sought to obtain the succession by her aid. So good seemed to Darius the chances of his brother's success that he took the rash step of conspiring against the life of his father, as the only way of securing the throne. His conspiracy was detected, and he was seized and executed, Ariaspes thereby becoming the eldest son, and so the natural heir. Ochus then persuaded Ariaspes that he had offended his father, and was about to be put to a cruel and ignominious death, whereupon that prince in despair committed suicide.


His elder brothers thus removed, there still remained one rival, whom Ochus feared. This was Arsames, one of his half-brothers, an illegitimate son of Artaxerxes, who stood high in his favor. Assassination was the weapon employed to get rid of this rival. It is said that this last blow was too much for the aged and unhappy king, who died of grief on receiving intelligence of the murder.


Artaxerxes was about the weakest of all the Persian monarchs. He was mild in temperament, affable in demeanor, goodnatured, affectionate and well-meaning. But, possessing no strength of will, he allowed the commission of the most atrocious acts, the most horrible cruelties, by those about him, who were bolder and more resolute than himself. The wife and son, whom he fondly loved, were plotted against before his eyes; and he had neither the skill to prevent nor the courage to avenge their fate. Incapable of resisting entreaty and importunity, he granted boons which he ought to have refused, and condoned offences which it would have been proper to punish. He could not maintain long the most just resentment, but remitted punishments even when they were far milder than the crime deserved. He was fairly successful in the management of his relations with foreign countries, and in the suppression of disturbances within his own dominions; but he was quite incapable of anything like a strenuous and prolonged effort to renovate and re-invigorate the Empire. If he held together the territories which he inherited, and bequeathed them to his successor augmented rather than diminished, it is to be attributed more to his good fortune than to his merits, and to the mistakes of his opponents than to his own prudence or sagacity.



 Darius II


 Artaxerxes III