Artaxerxes II of Persia

Artaxerxes II Mnemon
King of Persia
Artaxerxes II relief detail.jpg
Relief of Artaxerxes II on his tomb at Persepolis, Iran.
King of Persia
Reign 404 to 358 BC (46 years)
Predecessor Darius II
Successor Artaxerxes III
Born 435 or 445 BC
Died 358 BC (aged 77 or 87)
Burial 358 BC
Consort Stateira
Issue Artaxerxes III
Full name
Artaxerxes II Mnemon, birth name = Arsames
House Achaemenid
Father Darius II
Mother Parysatis

Artaxerxes II Mnemon /ˌɑːrtəˈzɜːrksz/ (Old Persian: 𐎠𐎼𐎫𐎧𐏁𐏂, meaning "whose reign is through truth")[1] was the Xšâyathiya Xšâyathiyânâm (King of Kings) of Persia from 404 BC until his death in 358 BC. He was a son of Darius II and Parysatis.

Greek authors gave him the epithet "Mnemon" (Greek: mnḗmona, in Old Persian: abiataka), meaning "remembering; having a good memory".[2]

Rise to power

Darius II died in 404 BC, just before the final victory of the Egyptian general, Amyrtaeus, over the Persians in Egypt.

His successor was his eldest son Arsames who was crowned as Artaxerxes II in Pasargadae.

Portrait of Artaxerxes II.

Even before his coronation, Artaxerxes was facing threats to his rule from his younger brother, Cyrus the Younger. Four years earlier, Cyrus was appointed by his father as the supreme governor of the provinces of Asia Minor. There, he managed to pacify local rebellions and become a popular ruler among both the Iranians and Greeks. Towards the end of 405 BC, Cyrus became aware of his father's illness. By gathering support from the local Greeks and by hiring Greek mercenaries commanded by Clearchus, Cyrus started marching down towards Babylonia, initially declaring his intention to crush the rebellious armies in Syria.[3]

By the time of Darius II's death, Cyrus had already been successful in defeating the Syrians and Cilicians and was commanding a large army made up of his initial supporters plus those who had joined him in Phrygia and beyond.

Upon hearing of his father's death, Cyrus the Younger declared his claim to the throne, based on the argument that he was born to Darius and Parysatis after Darius had ascended to the throne, while Artaxerxes was born prior to Darius II gaining the throne .

Conflict with Cyrus the Younger

Retreat of the Ten Thousand, at the Battle of Cunaxa. Jean Adrien Guignet.

Artaxerxes defended his position against his brother Cyrus the Younger who, with the aid of a large army of Greek mercenaries called the "Ten Thousand", attempted to usurp the throne. Though Cyrus' mixed army fought to a tactical victory at the Battle of Cunaxa in Babylon (401 BC), Cyrus himself was killed in the exchange by Mithridates, rendering his victory irrelevant. (The Greek historian Xenophon, himself one of the leaders of the Greek troops, would later recount this battle in the Anabasis, focusing on the struggle of the now-stranded Greek mercenaries to return home.)

Reign

Conflict against Sparta

Armoured cavalry of Achaemenid Hellespontine Phrygia attacking a Greek psiloi at the time of Artaxerxes II and his Satrap Pharnabazus II, Altıkulaç Sarcophagus, early 4th century BCE.

Artaxerxes became involved in a war with Persia's erstwhile allies, the Spartans, who, under Agesilaus II, invaded Asia Minor in 396-395 BC. In order to redirect the Spartans' attention to Greek affairs, Artaxerxes subsidized their enemies: in particular the Athenians, Thebans and Corinthians. Tens of thousands of Darics, the main currency in Achaemenid coinage, were used to bribe the Greek states to start a war against Sparta.[4] These subsidies helped to engage the Spartans in what would become known as the Corinthian War. According to Plutarch, Agesilaus said upon leaving Asia Minor "I have been driven out by 10,000 Persian archers", a reference to "Archers" (Toxotai) the Greek nickname for the Darics from their obverse design, because that much money had been paid to politicians in Athens and Thebes in order to start a war against Sparta.[5][4][6]

Collaboration with Sparta

In 386 BC, Artaxerxes II betrayed his allies and came to an arrangement with Sparta, and in the Treaty of Antalcidas he forced his erstwhile allies to come to terms. This treaty restored control of the Greek cities of Ionia and Aeolis on the Anatolian coast to the Persians, while giving Sparta dominance on the Greek mainland. In 385 BC he campaigned against the Cadusians.

Daric of Artaxerxes II

Egypt campaign

Although successful against the Greeks, Artaxerxes had more trouble with the Egyptians, who had successfully revolted against him at the beginning of his reign. An attempt to reconquer Egypt in 373 BC under the command of Pharnabazus II was completely unsuccessful, but in his waning years the Persians did manage to defeat a joint Egyptian–Spartan effort to conquer Phoenicia.

He quashed the Revolt of the Satraps in 372–362 BC.

He is reported to have had a number of wives. His main wife was Stateira, until she was poisoned by Artaxerxes' mother Parysatis in about 400 BC. Another chief wife was a Greek woman of Phocaea named Aspasia (not the same as the concubine of Pericles). Artaxerxes II is said to have more than 115 sons from 350 wives.[7]

Building projects

Ethnicities of the soldiers of the Empire, on the tomb of Artaxerxes II. On the lintel over each figure appears a trilingual inscription describing each ethnicity. [8] These are known collectively as "Inscription A2Pa".

Much of Artaxerxes' wealth was spent on building projects. He restored the Palace of Darius I at Susa,[9] and also the fortifications; including a strong redoubt at the south-east corner of the enclosure and gave Ecbatana a new apadana and sculptures.

The tomb of Artaxerxes II is located at Persepolis, and was built on the model of his predecessors at Naqsh-e Rustam. On the upper register of the tomb appear reliefs of the Emperor, supported by the soldiers of all ethnicities of the Empire. On the lintel over each figure appears a trilingual inscription describing each ethnicity.[10] These are known collectively as "Inscription A2Pa".

Identification

The Jewish high priest Johanan is mentioned in the Elephantine papyri[11][12] dated to 407 BC, i.e., during Darius II's reign, and is also mentioned in Ezra 10:6 after the reign of Darius (Ezra 6:1) and during the rule of Artaxerxes (Ezra 7:1), thereby supporting the chronological sequence.

Amongst others, it has been suggested that Artaxerxes II was the Ahasuerus mentioned in the Book of Esther. Plutarch in his Lives (AD 75) records alternative names Oarses and Arsicas for Artaxerxes II Mnemon given by Deinon (c. 360–340 BC[13]) and Ctesias (Artexerxes II's physician[14]) respectively.[15] These derive from the Persian name Khshayarsha as do "Ahasuerus" ("(Arta)Xerxes") and the hypocoristicon "Arshu" for Artaxerxes II found on a contemporary inscription (LBAT 162[16]). These sources thus arguably identify Ahasuerus as Artaxerxes II in light of the names used in the Hebrew and Greek sources and accords with the contextual information from Pseudo-Hecataeus and Berossus[17] as well as agreeing with Al-Tabari and Masudi's placement of events. The 13th century Syriac historian Bar-Hebraeus in his Chronography, also identifies Ahasuerus as Artaxerxes II citing the sixth century AD historian John of Ephesus.[18][19] However contrary to Esther 1:1 Artaxerxes II on his accession lost Egypt to pharaoh Amyrtaeus, after which it wasn't part of the Persian empire anymore.

Issue

By Stateira
Artaxerxes III
Darius
Ariaspes or Ariarathes
Rhodogune, wife of satrap Orontes I
Atossa, wife of Artaxerxes II & then Artaxerxes III
By other wives
Arsames
Mithridates
Phriapatius(?), probable ancestor of Arsacids
Amestris, wife of Artaxerxes II
Apama, wife of Pharnabazus
Ocha, mother of an unnamed wife of Artaxerxes III
The unnamed wife of Tissaphernes
112 other unnamed sons

See also

References

  1. ^ R. Schmitt. "ARTAXERXES". Encyclopædia Iranica. 15 December 1986. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  2. ^ electricpulp.com. "ARTAXERXES II – Encyclopaedia Iranica". www.iranicaonline.org. Retrieved 4 February 2018.
  3. ^ "The Achaemenid Empire". Retrieved 2015-06-21.
  4. ^ a b Snodgrass, Mary Ellen (2015). Coins and Currency: An Historical Encyclopedia. McFarland. p. 125. ISBN 9781476611204.
  5. ^ "Persian coins were stamped with the figure of an archer, and Agesilaus said, as he was breaking camp, that the King was driving him out of Asia with ten thousand "archers"; for so much money had been sent to Athens and Thebes and distributed among the popular leaders there, and as a consequence those people made war upon the Spartans" Plutarch 15-1-6 in Delphi Complete Works of Plutarch (Illustrated). Delphi Classics. 2013. pp. 1031, Plutarch 15-1-6. ISBN 9781909496620.
  6. ^ Schwartzwald, Jack L. (2014). The Ancient Near East, Greece and Rome: A Brief History. McFarland. p. 73. ISBN 9781476613079.
  7. ^ "The Achaemenid Empire". Retrieved 2015-06-21. [1] Archived 2008-06-19 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Briant, Pierre (2015). Darius in the Shadow of Alexander. Harvard University Press. p. 25. ISBN 9780674493094.
  9. ^ "Achaemenid Royal Inscriptions: A2Sa". www.livius.org. Retrieved 2015-06-21.
  10. ^ Briant, Pierre (2015). Darius in the Shadow of Alexander. Harvard University Press. p. 25. ISBN 9780674493094.
  11. ^ Pritchard, James B. ed., Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, Princeton University Press, third edition with supplement 1969, ISBN 9780691035031, p. 492
  12. ^ Bezalel Porten (Author), J. J. Farber (Author), C. J. F. Martin (Author), G. Vittmann (Author), The Elephantine Papyri in English (Documenta Et Monumenta Orientis Antiqui, book 22), Koninklijke Brill NV, The Netherlands, 1996, ISBN 9781589836280, p 125-153.
  13. ^ Wolfgang Felix, Encyclopaedia Iranica, entry Dinon, 1996–2008
  14. ^ Jona Lendering, Ctesias of Cnidus, Livius, Articles on Ancient History, 1996–2008
  15. ^ John Dryden, Arthur Hugh Clough, Plutarch's Lives, Little, Brown and Company, 1885
  16. ^ M. A. Dandamaev, W. J. Vogelsang, A Political History of the Achaemenid Empire, BRILL, 1989
  17. ^ Jacob Hoschander, The Book of Esther in the Light of History, Oxford University Press, 1923
  18. ^ E. A. W. Budge, The Chronography of Bar Hebraeus, Gorgias Press LLC, reprinted 2003
  19. ^ Jan Jacob van Ginkel, John of Ephesus. A Monophysite Historian in Sixth-century Byzantium, Groningen, 1995

External links

Artaxerxes II of Persia
Born: c. 436 BC Died: 358 BC
Preceded by
Darius II
Great King (Shah) of Persia
404 BC – 358 BC
Succeeded by
Artaxerxes III