web counter









425-338 BC





1. A Historical Survey From Achaemenes to Cyrus

2. The History of Ochus and His Reign






The Achaemenides were a royal family whose ancient home was in the city of Ansan, probably near the later family seat Pasargadae in Persis, or identical with it. The ancestor of the entire family was Achaemenes (Hakhamanis) who was perhaps not a historical personage, but a heros eponymus. Unlike the early oriental nations the Persians were not Semites but Aryans who belonged to the Indo-European races, as did all the Iranians. To the Aryan race belonged also the Achaemenides. As early as 730 BC Teispis, the first leader, flourished in Ansan. Following him in direct lineage were Cambyses, Cyrus, Teispis II, Cyrus II, and Cambyses II, before the beginning of the Persian empire.

The history of Persia begins with the downfall of the Median empire. This empire began to rise when the shadows began to fall upon Assyria. About the time when Assurbanipal of Assyria subjugated Babylonia, the Median tribes, wishing to cease their quarrels and to unite against a common foe, chose Deioces as their first king. But the real founder of the empire was his successor, Phraortes, 647-625. Through him the empire was enlarged. Persia was brought under his power, and afterward, little by little, large portions of Asia. Phraortes himself fell in a campaign against Assyria. Under his son and successor, Cyaxares, 624-585, the empire reached its highest power. Nineveh was besieged, but, by reason of an invasion by the Scythians, Cyaxares was called home. These Scythians, also Aryans, were conquered and afterward joined his army. With the aid of Babylon the siege of Nineveh was renewed, the proud capital taken, 606, and the empire, once the arbitrary ruler of the world, wiped entirely from the earth. Cyaxares was already master of Armenia and Cappadocia when he began the war with Lydia. Five years of fruitless conflict with that rival empire finally resulted in a treaty of peace after the battle of Halys, May 28, 585, a peace effected through Syennesis of Cilicia and Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia as arbiters.

Under Astyages, the last Median king, 584-550, probably a survivor of the Scythian tribes, the empire gradually approached its close. Compared with Assyria before and Persia after, the Median empire was rather insignificant, but it was the first attempt of an Aryan people to found a great and conquering empire. Unable to conquer Lydia and obliged to recognize the mighty power of Nabopolassar, it nevertheless gave the death blow to Assyria. It liberated Iran from Semitic suzerainty and united the quarreling tribes under a central power and so laid the foundation and paved the way for the Persian empire.


The Persians under Cyrus (Kurus), king of Ansan, revolted against Astyages, who is said to have been an extravagant and fierce ruler, so that his own subjects rejoiced over the rise of Cyrus. One of his own officials, Harpagus, betrayed him into the hands of Cyrus. When Astyages and his capital Ecbatana were conquered, Media and Persia changed places. The Medo-Persian empire became the Perso-Median in the year 550 BC. Cyrus had already been king of Persia nine years before the beginning of the empire. Now he became “the great king” of a new empire, 550-529. His first effort was to subdue the lands which had belonged to the Median empire. This he accomplished in three years. The next step was to conquer the powerful and wealthy king Croesus of Lydia, who ruled over nearly the whole western half of Asia Minor. Croesus sought the help of Greece, Egypt, and Babylonia. The Delphic oracle gave a favorable reply. Croesus decided to postpone the attack on the advancing Persians until spring. This was his mistake, for already, in the winter, Cyrus proceeded into Lydia and speedily took Sardis, the capital. Croesus was spared, but the Lydian empire had become a Persian province, 547-546. The Lydians made no attempt ever afterward to shake off the Persian yoke. The Greek cities of western Asia Minor were soon brought into subjection through Harpagus and other Persian leaders.

Babylonia anticipated danger in case the balance of power between the East and the West should be broken. Consequently Nebuchadnezzar built great fortifications, a double wall around the city and the Median wall from the Tigris to the Euphrates, besides numerous canals.

This made Babylon secure under Nebuchadnezzar, but his successors were not his equals in power. The last of the kings, Nabunaid, 559-539, brought the ill-will of his subjects upon himself through the neglect of the worship of Marduk and the introduction of foreign gods. Cyrus was still without the true capital of Asia, Babylon, on which his eye was fixed. He could not think of breaking through the fortifications on the north, so he approached on the side of the Tigris. The Babylonian army, under the command of Belshazzar (Bel-sar-usur) met Cyrus but was defeated near Opis, and again as often as it rallied. The north Babylonians had revolted against their king and Sippar opened its gates to the enemy. Babylon fell into the hands of Cyrus without resistance in 538. The new king entered the city to the great joy of all classes, but was especially welcomed by the priesthood and the nobles who looked upon him as a liberator. Belshazzar was probably slain by Gobryas, the governor of Gutium, and Nabunaid was taken captive. All the territory subject to Babylonia seems to have submitted to the rule of the Persians without resistance.

Syria also, as far as the borders of Egypt, and Phoenicia, with all her island cities, came without opposition under the Persian dominion. The Semitic world had become an Aryan empire. A final work remained for Cyrus. While Harpagus was subduing the Greek cities and free states and coast-lands, Cyrus himself compelled the settled Aryan tribes of the East, and the nomadic tribes of the North­east to recognize the new empire. The Persian dominion now extended from the Indus to the blue waters of the Aegean. In a battle with a savage tribe of the northeast, probably the Massagatae, Cyrus met his death in 529. His body was probably rescued and brought to Pasargadae, where a tomb erected by his son Cambyses marks his burial-place. It is possible, however, that this is not his actual burial-place, but merely a mausoleum erected in his honor, in the great king’s favorite capital.

The captive Jews in Babylonia had placed great hopes in Cyrus for their future liberation. Through him their God Yahweh would set them free, punish their oppressors, and restore Jerusalem. This was the message of their prophet Deutero-Isaiah. Disappointment may have followed this expectation, for the hopes excited by this prophet do not appear to have been realized at once. On the cylinder Cyrus says that he returned to their homes the gods of a great many towns, brought together the inhabitants, and restored both temple and dwelling-places. Whether this extended beyond the immediate neighborhood of Babylon may rightly be questioned. Of the Jews “comparatively few availed themselves of this permission, but these few formed the starting-point of a development which has been of infinite importance for the history of the world”. Yet “the importance of Cyrus for Israel lies less in anything he actually did than in the great expectations which he excited, expectations which in their turn exercised a great influence on the ideas ultimately formed by the Jews as to the earlier stages of their restoration after the misfortunes of the exile”.

In his personality Cyrus is amiable both in history and in legend. He is the simple leader and king, tolerant in his dealings with his subjects, and mild in his government of the empire, granting his subjects a sort of self-government. The empire of Cyrus was a world of tolerance. He certainly was a remarkable man and truly a great king. And yet he left the empire in an unorganized condition. The treasures of Ecbatana, Sardis, and Babylon became the property of the king and not of the empire. The great contribution of Cyrus to his time was the laying of a foundation for a better empire in that he broke with the hated Assyro-Babylonian system of rigid and arbitrary rule. It was left to his successors to establish the empire on this broad foundation.


Cyrus left two sons, Bardiya and Cambyses, whose mother was Kassandana, also of Achaemenian descent. Cambyses (Kambudsija) succeeded his father on the throne, 529-522. The empire of Cyrus was capable of expansion. On the frontier was Egypt whose wealth was alluring and which was a menace to the empire. Just at this time occurred the death of Amasis, and his successor on the throne was the weak king Psammetich III. This was Persia’s opportunity and Cambyses seized it. He spent the first four years of his reign in preparation for an expedition against Egypt. Before leaving Persia he secretly killed his brother Bardiya in order to avoid a revolt at home during his absence. The Greeks of Asia Minor, the Cyprians, and the Phoenicians furnished a large fleet under the command of Phanes and Halicarnassus formerly in the service of the Egyptians. Cambyses at the head of an army, after a single battle at Pelusium, entered Egypt in the spring of 525, and soon was lord of the whole country from Memphis to Kush. The neighboring Libyans and the Greek cities of Cyrene and Barca readily submitted. Even the Soudan and parts of Kush were added to the conquered territory.

Cambyses appears to have been moody and hateful in impassioned moments. His action in Egypt was, to say the least, unwise and impolitic. He burned the mummy of the late king Amasis, and with his own hand inflicted a mortal wound on the sacred Apis at Memphis. Consequently he was unpopular in Egypt as well as at home. Suddenly the news of a rebellion at home spread through the empire. Gaumata (pseudo-Smerdis) pretended to be the king’s brother Bardiya and made claims to the throne. The people, displeased with the long absence of Cambyses, were the more ready to accept the pretender. Cambyses was on his return when he learned of the terrible insurrection. At Hamath, in northern Syria, he put an end to his life in 522. Gaumata was accepted by the people, but not by the leading families who knew him to be an impostor.

Hystaspis, the father of Darius, was the real heir to the throne, but he lacked courage to rise against the pseudo-Smerdis. A conspiracy of seven representative men of illustrious families was formed to murder the impostor. Darius was undoubtedly the leader of this heptad from the beginning. The conspiracy was completely successful. Gaumata was slain in a fortress near Ecbatana and Darius (Daryavaus) became king of the Persian empire, 521-485. It only remained for him to find recognition among the Persian people who had accepted Gaumata. He married Attossa, daughter of Cyrus, who had already been married to her brother Cambyses and to the pseudo-Smerdis. This alone brought him favor with the people. He also restored the temple which Gaumata had destroyed and set aright everything else the impostor had altered.

All over the empire there were rebellions which had to be quelled. Western Asia alone remained quiet. First the rebellion in Lydia was quieted and then that in Babylonia where Nebuchadnezzar, a descendant of Nabunaid, had arisen to claim the throne. Even in Persia another pseudo-Smerdis appeared in the absence of Darius. In Media Phraortes, a real or a pretending descendant of the old Median royally, became king and was recognized by the Parthians and Hyrkanians. In Susiana Imani arose as king. Another Nebuchadrezzar arose in Babylonia. The ruling power of Darius, his great energy and circumspect enabled him speedily to conquer all these difficulties. As early as 519 all these insurrections were suppressed so that they were not to be feared again during his reign. Darius commemorated this event by an inscription in word and picture in the stone cliff at Behistun.

Darius was now free to devote his efforts to the inner establishment of the empire. In this work he manifested his true greatness and rendered his chief service to the world. Darius was not so great a general as Cyrus, but he was a greater king. He was the first statesman of Asia. The rulers of the older empires, Assyria and Chaldea, were unlimited despots, gods upon the earth. Darius was the most remarkable king of the dynasty of all the native kings of Iran, as energetic as he was prudent. He set the standard for the empire until the days of Alexander the Great. He delegated power to governors and satraps who were free almost like kings, but he kept the reins in the hands of the central power. To further the organization he constructed a network of highways and instituted a regular system of posts. In this way the king could have his “eyes” and “ears”, i. e., his royal commissioners and his royal secretaries, in each of the twenty provinces, into which the empire was divided. He substituted a new and better system of coinage for that of the Lydians, and established a regular system of taxes to the great benefit of the state. Such a centralized government was excellent as long as there was a strong and energetic man at the center. As soon as this was missing it gave equally great opportunity for satraps and governors to rise as kings. Political organization in Asia reached its greatest height under Darius. It was the most satisfactory ever devised by Orientals.


Along with the political development followed the religious. Zoroastrianism had already found favorable conditions for spreading over Persia during the liberal reign of Cyrus. The tolerance of Darius granting to all freedom of language, customs, and religion, was especially favorable for its spread and development. It is not a mere accident that during this statesman’s reign the Jewish community at Jerusalem revived again, partly indeed through the inspiration furnished by returned exiles, but more largely through the energy of the people of Palestine roused up through the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, which resulted in the rebuilding of the temple, 519-516.

An organized empire with such a system of government, paralleled by its religious development, was capable of still greater expansion. Cyrus had conquered Lydia and Babylonia. Cambyses added Egypt. Darius organized the whole into one vast empire. But this was not enough. He had desires to follow the example of his predecessors. India, though probably only a portion of the region of the Indus, is mentioned in the inscriptions of the palace of Persepolis and in the epitaph of Darius, but not in the Behistun inscription. From this it may be inferred that Darius added a portion of India to his empire.

An expedition against the Scythians proved altogether unsuccessful, not because of their superiority over the Persians, but on account of physical conditions of the country with which Darius did not reckon sufficiently. Before setting out from Susa with an army of 700,000 men towards the Bosporus, Darius sent Ariamnes, satrap of Cappadocia, with a fleet of thirty ships, to sail to the Scythian coast to capture some of the Scythians. The Ionian Greeks were called upon to furnish a fleet of 600 ships. The campaign was carried on on a large scale and was continued far inland but with no results.

The Persians were absorbed in schemes of a universal empire. There was one more nation at that time which had grown to such dimensions and stood in such close proximity to the Persian empire that it would naturally become a part of the empire or in time become a menace to it. This nation was Greece. Before continuing the history of Persia we must turn aside a little and take a glance at this rising world power, and see how through it the history of Persia was modified.

A thousand years and more before Persia was known as a separate nation there were civilizations of a high order on the borders of the Aegean. Troy and Mycenae had already been succeeded by later civilizations. From the northern and more backward parts of the peninsula came Dorian migrations and supplanted in some parts, but in others supplemented the earlier peoples. There were two particular lines of development on the peninsula, one the Dorian, with its center at Sparta, the other the Ionian, with its center at Athens. No sooner were these centers formed than began the expansion and colonization in the neighboring states of Greece, the islands of the Aegean, and the coast of Asia Minor, where twelve cities were founded of which Miletus was the most important. This whole district took the name of Ionia. The process of colonization continued to the islands and borders of the Mediterranean, and through the Bosporus to the shores of the Euxine. At the centers kings made room for oligarchies, and these in turn were overthrown by tyrants, who finally gave place to democracies. In military and political organization Sparta excelled. In Athens, on the other hand, art and literature, science and philosophy reached their fullest expression, particularly under the favorable conditions during the prosperous reign of Lycurgus.

It was not till about the year 500 that the Greek and oriental civilizations came into close touch with each other, and it is here where the interest of Persian history in Greece begins. Persia was at this time a mighty organized empire, while Greece consisted of a large number of disunited cities and small states. In this Hellenic world there were three centers: Greece, the Asiatic coast, and Sicily. To the close of the sixth century the Ionian Greeks of Asia Minor excelled the others in culture. As early as 560, when Croesus became king of Lydia, they were subdued by that monarch. When Cyrus conquered Lydia in 547 the Greek cities, after some resistance, became a part of the empire and so lost their leadership among the Greeks. In the year 500, possessed by a love of liberty, these Ionians revolted against Persia. Reinforced by ships from Athens and Eretria they made an attack upon Sardis. The city was taken but the citadel withstood the attack. The Greeks were driven back and defeated at Ephesus. The Persians now came with a great fleet to Cyprus, which had joined the Ionians. The Persians were met and defeated by the Ionians at sea off Salamis in Cyprus, but beat them in turn on land. Cyprus, after being free only one year, came under Persian power again. A decisive struggle was concentrated about Miletus, up to that time by far the most important of all the Greek cities in Asia. A complete overthrow was the result after a long defense on land and on sea.

Immediately after the Ionian revolt Darius began vast preparations for the invasion of Greece. A great army under Mardonius, the king’s son-in-law, was gathered at the Hellespont. A large fleet was equipped to accompany the army with supplies. In 492 the army set out but suffered constant attacks by savage Thracian tribes, and the fleet was dashed to pieces by a storm near the rocky promontory off Mount Athos. As a result Mardonius was forced to retreat into Asia. Two years later a second expedition was made against Greece and on a larger scale. The command was entrusted to the Median Datis and the younger Artaphernes. They set out in the spring of 490 direct from Euboea. Naxos was taken and Eretria destroyed. The Athenians and Plataeans, under Miltiades, met the Persians at Marathon and utterly defeated them. This was the first great victory over the Persians in the open field. By this victory Athens rendered immortal service to Europe and the cause of civilization. For the Greeks themselves the victory proved an inspiration for later daring enterprise. Darius ordered preparations for a new expedition to wipe out the disgrace of Marathon, but did not live to carry out his plans.

In Egypt Darius promoted material well-being. By building a canal from the Nile to the Red Sea he increased facilities for commerce. He had early offered a reward for the finding of a new Apis to take the place of the one killed by Cambyses. This won him the favor of his subjects. The new Apis lived till the thirty-first year of Darius. The prudent rule of the Persian king gave him a place among six great lawgivers in the legal code of the Egyptians. But the old hatred against the Persians rose again and in the last years of Darius Egypt was in a state of revolt against the empire.

After the death of Darius his son Xerxes I, through the influence of his mother Atossa, the daughter of Cyrus, succeeded him on the throne, 485-464. He was in all points inferior to Darius. With him begins a series of weak and unworthy kings, and a consequent decline of the empire held together only by the solid foundation which Darius had given it. Unfortunately the sources for the Persian history after Darius are few. The inscriptions are fewer than before and give less of the events of the reigns of kings. Herodotus closes his account with the battle of Plataea, so that we are thrown back upon the fragmentary accounts especially of Greek writers. “What we gather from classic writers as to the affairs of the Persian court is a sad history of alternate weakness and cruelty, corruption, murders, intrigues and broken faith”.

Xerxes suppressed the revolt of Egypt which had broken out during the last years of his father Darius, and laid a much harder yoke upon them. The king’s own brother Achaemenes became satrap of the country. In Babylon the Persian satrap Zopyrus was murdered, but his son Megabyzus suppressed the revolt.

The most important undertaking of Xerxes was the conquest of Greece. Darius had resolved to wipe out the stain of Marathon, but was kept from it through frequent revolts in the empire and his death. Xerxes now decided to carry out his predecessor’s resolve. Extensive preparations were made and the king himself set out to Sardis, the first rendezvous. Supplies were collected and the Hellespont bridged. In the spring of 480 Xerxes, with an army of at least a million soldiers, besides attendants, and accompanied by a fleet of 1,200 ships, set out on the expedition. Greece was forced into hurried preparation and a greater unity than before existed among the different states. The one great change in Greece since the victory of Marathon that was against Xerxes was the building of a great fleet through the efforts of Themistocles. Athens had become, during the last few years, the greatest naval power in Hellas. Xerxes entered Greece without a blow. The Thessalian cities joined the invaders with their powerful cavalry. The Greeks decided to make a stand at Thermopylae, but in vain, for the Persian army forced their way, after a three days’ battle over the dead bodies of Leonidas and his faithful three hundred. At Pelusium four hundred Persian ships were wrecked in a storm and the rest were checked by the Greeks in a sternly contested conflict. Xerxes now advanced on Athens and was joined by nearly all the states of central Greece. The city was abandoned and the Athenians took refuge on their fleet. Themisto­cles, delaying the retreat of the fleet at Salamis, sent a treacherous message to Xerxes pretending friendship, notifying him of the weakness and dissension of the Greeks. Xerxes accepted the treacherous advice to block the straits in order to prevent their escape. The only thing to do now was to fight. The Persian fleet more than doubled the Greek which consisted of 378 ships. A conflict lasting from dawn till night resulted in an overwhelming victory for the Greeks.

Xerxes, boastfully and vaingloriously watching the struggle from the shore, now cowardly and effeminately resolved to return to Asia instead of pressing farther inland. He left the land-forces under Mardonius who withdrew to Thessaly to spend the winter. Athens was burned a second time and Attica laid waste. The next spring the final contest was fought near Plataea, 479, where the Persian army of nearly 300,000 was almost completely destroyed by the Greek force of about one-third that number. This was the turning-point of Persian history. The Persians were thrown back on the defensive. The defeat was so complete that no hostile Persian dared ever set foot on European Greece again. Oriental centralized despotism was crushed by the rising freedom and republican individualism. The fall of Persia resulted in the ripening of Greek art and thought.

Xerxes retreated into the depths of Asia. The Greeks, invited by the Greek islanders, crossed over to the Asiatic coast and at Mycale, near Miletus, the rest of the Persian fleet was annihilated. All the islands of the Aegean were permanently wrested from the Persians and the liberation of the Asiatic coast was begun. This defeat in Greece worked disadvantageously in the empire at home. In the very heart of the empire, as well as in the distant frontier, tribes were regaining their independence. More dangerous for the empire was the confidence the victory of the Greeks put into their minds to turn the spear and to enter into the enemy’s own home. It was left for Alexander the Great to do this. Xerxes was assassinated by Artabanus, captain of the body-guard. His younger brother Artaxerxes, in league with the murderer, put to death his older brother Darius, who had a better title to the throne. Artabanus was soon afterwards put out of the way by Artaxerxes, who thereby made himself secure for the throne.

Artaxerxes I, surnamed Longimanus by the Greeks, became king in his father’s stead, 464-424. Immediately after his accession he had to quiet the revolt of the Bactrians which may have been instigated by the king’s older brother Hystaspis, then satrap of Bactria. After two battles they were brought to subjection.

In Egypt a second revolt broke out, this time through Inarus, son of Psammetich, a Libyan prince who was proclaimed king over all Egypt. He had stirred up a revolt against the satrap Achaemenes who fell in battle. Inarus summoned aid from Athens. The Persians in turn sought help from Sparta but failed. The Persians then dispatched a large army from Syria, under Megabyzus, who was at that time satrap of Syria. After hard fighting the Athenians in Egypt were wiped out, and Inarus was captured and crucified. Upon this followed a treaty of peace between Persia and Athens. The Persians agreed to send no ships of war into Greek waters and the Athenians in turn renounced all rights in the eastern seas.

Meanwhile the jealousy between Athens and Sparta increased and resulted in the Peloponnesian war, 431-404. By reason of this war Persia was secure from her greatest foe, Athens. During the early years of war there was repeated communication between Sparta and Persia. The Spartans wanted the assistance of Persia in the war, but were not skillful in obtaining it, and the Persians were too ignorant and selfish to grant it. Athens also sought help from Persia but naturally in vain.

Artaxerxes was not a bad but a weak man, governed by courtiers and women. His mother Amestris and her daughter Amytes, wife of Megabyzus, both cruel and dissolute women, exercised a controlling influence on him. He rendered his chief service to the empire in replenishing the finances which were exhausted during the wars of Xerxes, and in restoring order throughout his empire.

Within his reign fall the activity of the prophet Malachi, the rebuilding of the wall through the efforts of Nehemiah, and the introduction of the law through Ezra. The memoirs of Nehemiah and of Ezra are compositions that were written at this time. Significant is the quarrel of Megabyzus, satrap of Syria, with the Persian court, a quarrel which lasted several years and was brought to a close only after a severe conflict. In the treaty of peace Megabyzus was granted full pardon. “It is not improbable that this war was the occasion of the destruction of the walls and gates of Jerusalem lamented by Nehemiah”.

After the long reign of Artaxerxes followed two sudden changes on the throne. The only one of his eighteen sons eligible, Xerxes II, the son of Damaspia, was murdered by his half-brother Sogdianus, the son of the Babylonian Alogune, forty-five days after his accession. He in turn was overthrown by his brother Ochus, satrap of Hyrkania, after a reign of six and a half months, and in violation of solemn oaths was put to death. Ochus assumed the name of Darius II, 423-404. The Greeks called him Nothus (Bastard). He left the supreme power in the hands of his sister and consort Parysatis, the prompter of all his acts and all his crimes. The empire in the hands of a weak ruler became the scene of uncontrollable rebellions. In Syria and in Asia Minor there were repeated revolts. Soon after 410 Egypt was lost to the Persians for a period of over sixty years. The throne of Phraortes was again established with Amyrtaeus as the first independent king. For all this time the Persians were unable to reduce the unwarlike Egyptians, a fact which shows the weakness of the Persians rather than the strength of the Egyptians who were frequently divided by internal strife.

In Greece the Peloponnesian war was hastened to a close by a dreadful catastrophe in Sicily, where two hundred perfectly equipped ships and over 4,000 men were pitilessly sacrificed through the miserable generalship of their leader Micias in 413. This gave the Persians hope to regain the seacoast. At once their satraps, both the untrustworthy Tissaphernes of Sardis and his rival, Pharnabazus of Hellespontine Phrygia, appeared upon the coast of the Aegean. The Spartans sought the aid of the Persians and offered to betray the Asiatic Greeks into their hands. The aid thus received enabled Sparta to carry on the war with Athens, a war which was hastening to a close. Cyrus, the younger son of Darius II, was made satrap of Lydia, Phrygia, and Cappadocia, and commander-in-chief of all the troops in Asia Minor, while the treacherous Tissaphernes retained only the seacoast. Cyrus had a burning desire to avenge the defeats the Persians suffered from the Athenians. Hence he sought to ally himself closely with Sparta. Just at this time the command fell to the energetic unscrupulous Lysander. These two men were the ruin of Athens. Cyrus furnished the gold, Lysander did the work. In 405 her last fleet was captured at Aegospotami. Lysander in cold blood put to death the 4,000 Athenian citizens among the captives. In the following year the proud city surrendered to the mercy of her enemies and promised to follow Sparta in peace and war. The fall of Athens was at the same time the beginning of the fall of Hellas.

About the time of the peace between Athens and Sparta, Darius II died. His older son, Arsicas, ascended the throne as Artaxerxes II, later known as Mnemon (Thinker), 404-358. The younger son, Cyrus, was the abler and more powerful, far more worthy of the throne than his brother, and at the same time the favorite of his mother Parysatis. When Darius II was upon his death-bed Cyrus was summoned to his side, yet Artaxerxes was made king. Cyrus afterward made an attempt to seize the throne, but too late. He was arrested, and only at the request of Parysatis was he released and sent back to his satrapy. Within himself he was resolved to occupy his father’s throne. He collected under false pretext an army of over 10,000 Greeks and 100,000 Persians, and in 401 set out in face of the greatest difficulties with the purpose of seizing the throne. His effort was a failure and he was slain in the battle of Cunaxa near Babylon. The leaders of his army perished through cruel and cowardly treachery. The 10,000 Greeks chose new generals and retreated through wild and mountainous regions to the Greek districts on the Euxine, suffering untold hardships both from the severe climate and the barbarous people. The expedition revealed to the Greeks the weakness of the Persian empire, the cowardice of its rulers, and the great tracts of land regarded as royal territory but which were altogether independent. All this was remembered till the days of Alexander.

Sparta had rendered assistance to Cyrus and thus incurred the hatred of Persia. Agesilaus was burning with the ambition of freeing the Asiatic Greeks who, a little before, had been abandoned to Persia. This resulted in war between Sparta and Persia. In 396 Agesilaus invaded Asia Minor with a large army. This in turn raised new enemies for Sparta in Greece, particularly Thebes and Corinth, who did not share equally in the Spartan gains in the victory over Athens. These cities now joined Athens and Argos against Sparta and Persia, who supplied the allies with gold. Agesilaus was recalled in 394. When he reached the frontier of Boeotia he heard the dread tidings that Conon, in command of a Phoenician fleet, had completely destroyed the Spartan naval power at Cnidus. With this the Spartan authority in the Aegean vanished at once. Their sovereignty over the seas, after lasting ten years, was forever gone. Athens was again raised to the place of one of the great powers, and Sparta fell back into her former position of one state among many.

After a few more years of indecisive war, Sparta sought peace with Persia. In 387 the two powers invited all the Greek states through their ambassadors, Antalcidas and Teribazus, to send deputies to Sardis, where the Persian king dictated the term of peace as follows:


King Artaxerxes deems it just that the cities in Asia, with the islands of Clazomenae and Cyprus, should belong to himself; the rest of the Hellenic cities, both great and small, he will leave independent, save Lemnos, Imbros, and Scyros, which three are to belong to Athens as of yore. Should any of the parties not accept this peace, I, Artaxerxes, together with those who share my views (the Spartans), will war against the offenders by land and sea.


This peace was a great gain to the Spartans, for they gave up nothing which they still possessed, and gained a greater power over the mainland than they had before, since Greece was divided into many petty little states. The only gain to Persia was a firm hold on the seacoast. It was known that the Persian empire was now much weaker than when peace was concluded with Athens and that it was now only maintained by Greek mercenaries. Sixteen years later, at the battle of Leuctra, 371, Sparta was overthrown and Thebes rose to supremacy under Philip of Macedon, to fall again at his death.

Another enemy rose up against Persia in the west. Evagoras of Salamis had become the almost independent lord of Cyprus. Athens was obliged to support him for the services of Conon in her behalf against Sparta. Although formally leagued with Persia against Sparta, Persia made great efforts to reduce him to subjection, but did not succeed for ten years and then only in part. Evagoras was murdered but his descendants continued to be princes of Cyprian towns.

On the borders of the Caspian Sea the Kadusians, who perhaps were never completely subdued, kept annoying the king’s territory. Artaxerxes made a disastrous campaign against them from which he escaped with his life only with great difficulty. There was repeated warring with Egypt also without accomplishing anything. The last part of the reign of Artaxerxes II was filled with revolts of the satraps of Asia Minor, which must have weakened the imperial power immensely in the western provinces and certainly prepared the way for Macedonia.

In Egypt Tachos now occupied the throne. In 361 he actually assumed the offensive against Persia. The Spartans sent them aid, for they were bitterly enraged against Persia on account of her recognition of the independence of Messinia. But when Tachos was engaged in Phoenicia his nephew Nectanebus set himself up as rival king. This obliged Tachos to take refuge with the Persians. This would have been an excellent opportunity for the Persians to subdue Egypt again but they made no effort in that direction.

Artaxerxes II was a mild and friendly monarch, but a man without energy. He suffered many misfortunes which a man of greater strength could have prevented. "”he contempt for his brother which Cyrus exhibited was perfectly justified: under the effeminate king the empire gradually fell to pieces”. Not the energy of Artaxerxes but the dissensions among his enemies kept the empire from the fate which awaited it some twenty years later. With the exception of Egypt the empire remained, in name at least, the Persian empire. After having reigned forty-five or forty-six years Artaxerxes died. His oldest son Darius had been declared by his father as his successor. But before his father’s death Darius incurred his ill-will. Atossa, wife as well as daughter of Artaxerxes, espoused the interests of Ochus, a younger son. Darius, through the discontented courtier Teribazus, plotted to assassinate his father. He failed in his attempt and both he and Teribazus were put to death. This improved the chances of Ochus, but there were still two older brothers in the way, Arsanes and Ariaspes. Both of these Ochus had removed, one by treacherous poisoning, the other by assassination, so that he now stood next in order.

After Artaxerxes II died, Ochus became king under the name of Artaxerxes III,  58-338. As king he manifested the same sanguinary dispositions as those by which he placed himself on the throne. At the very beginning of his reign he massacred a number of his nearest relatives, among them his two younger brothers and his sister Ocha, in order to secure himself on the throne. Such executions were common to oriental despots. Even Alexander the Great put several near relatives to death after ascending the throne. For a while the whole empire seemed to be in a state of dissolution. A century and a quarter had passed since the days of Darius I, and this was a period of gradual weakening and decay of the empire. The heritage of Ochus was anything but desirable. Artabazus, satrap of Hellespontine Phrygia, deserted to the court of Philip of Macedonia, and with him the Rhodian Memnon, his brother-in-law. Orontes also became an enemy of the king and entered into alliance with the Athenians. In Egypt the war continued. Phoenicia, previously so trustworthy, also revolted, and with it Cyprus. Judea likewise was rebellious against Persia. It required all the energy of the cruel king to bring these revolting countries into subjection again. In this task, however, he proved himself efficient.

After the battle at Leuctra, 371, Thebes was at the head of Greece. This lasted for a short time only, for on the north a new nation was forming itself which was destined by reason of its able kings to rise to that primacy for which Sparta, Athens, and Thebes in turn had vainly striven. A consolidated monarchy came into conflict with divided and mutually jealous states. This country was Macedonia, with the ambitious and powerful Philip II at its head. Demosthenes tried in vain to stir up Greece against the inroads of Philip. The monarch invaded Greece with a powerful army, and both Athens and Thebes were crushed at the battle of Chaeronea, 338. This left Philip master of Greece. The history of Hellas was ended. All this was a preparation on a large scale for the final conquest and overthrow of Persia through the son and successor of Philip, only a few years later.

It appears that Ochus was keen enough to see the danger of his empire through Philip, and that he entered into negotiations with Athens and rendered her assistance. There are evidences also that Philip entered into a treaty with Ochus. This may have been in good faith on the part of Persia, but not so with Philip, who simply wanted time enough to conquer Greece before invading Persia. By his great energy Ochus smothered every revolt and really restored for the time the Persian supremacy. He was murdered by Bagoas, an Egyptian eunuch, and his youngest son Arses was placed on the throne.

Of the reign of Arses, 338-335, little is known. In the spring of 336 a Macedonian army for the first time crossed over into Asia under the command of Parmenio, but little or nothing was accomplished, for Parmenio was recalled when in the same year Philip was assassinated. Memnon, in command in Asia Minor, probably soon won back all the Macedonian conquests. When Arses tried to get rid of his patron, Bagoas poisoned him and gave the crown to Darius, the great-grandson of Darius II.

Darius III, Codomannus, 335-331, was about forty-five years of age when he was placed on the throne. Bagoas could not have made a worse choice. He had hoped to rule Darius, but being unable to do so he prepared the poison cup for him. The king noticing his intention compelled Bagoas to drink the cup. Unlike Ochus, Darius was an incapable despot whom Alexander could easily conquer. He was “a king no better than Xerxes, valiant perhaps in ordinary fights but quickly confused in great emergencies, and in no wise equal to the gigantic task imposed on his weak shoulders”.

Philip of Macedon was succeeded on the throne by his son Alexander, then only twenty years old. He at once showed himself both statesman and general, to the great surprise of his subjects. The revolts all over the empire were quickly suppressed. Thebes was razed to the ground because of revolt. The other cities were frightened into submission. Early in the spring of 334 he crossed the Hellespont with 35,000 disciplined troops. He swept everything before him with wonderful rapidity. At the Granicus, a small stream in the Troad, the Persians, under the leadership of the satraps of Asia Minor, attempted to check his advance, but their large army was utterly routed. This victory made Alexander master of all Asia Minor. The Rhodian Memnon, at this time at the head of a fleet that ruled the sea, purposed to recall Alexander by carrying war into Greece. Island after island was captured. The Greeks began to look to Memnon to save them from the Macedonian power. But just then Memnon died and his successor, Pharnabazus, was unable to carry out his plans, greatly to the advantage of Alexander.

Before marching farther inland the Mediterranean coast had first to be made secure. Hence Alexander turned to the south. At Issus a Persian army of 600,000, led by Darius himself, met him in November in 333, and was driven back with great loss. Cyprus surrendered to the Macedonians. Egypt hailed Alexander as their deliverer. In the spring of 331, after founding the city that bears his name, Alexander left Egypt and marched through Syria to the northeast. In October of the same year he won the decided victory over the large Persian army, said to have numbered a million soldiers, at Gaugamela. Darius fled for safety to Media. The battle was decisive. The Persian empire was ended, and Alexander was temporary master of the whole east. The march was continued eastward and the capitals of the empire, Babylon, Susiana, Ecbatana, and Persepolis, surrendered with all their enormous treasure. Darius was pursued and finally captured by Bessus, satrap of Bactria, and slain in 330. The last of the Achaemenian great kings had fallen.

Bessus assumed the title of king as Artaxerxes IV, not altogether without ground, for he was a relative of Darius. After many an adventure he came into the power of Alexander who had him brought to Ecbatana to be executed. The campaign was carried far into the east, beyond the Indus to the mountainous regions, until Alexander was forced to return because his soldiers refused to advance any farther. During his absence Baryaxes declared himself king of Media and Persia, but was soon captured and executed. Alexander returned to Babylon which he made his capital. Europe and Asia had joined hands. There was one mighty world-empire subject to the will of one world-emperor. And this also was of short duration.







When Ochus ascended the throne of Persia the empire was nominally as large as in 485, when Darius I died, although there had been many revolts all over the empire during the century and a quarter preceding. The successors of Darius were insignificant weaklings, unable to carry out the plans of the great organizer. Consequently there had been a gradual weakening and dissolution. Egypt had established its own government under Amyrtaios in 408, and was in reality no longer a part of the Persian empire, although Persia never recognized its independence. Many cities of Asia Minor also claimed independence. Phoenicia and Cyprus were in a state of revolt. The empire handed over to Ochus by his predecessors was a tottering structure, held together only by the strong organization effected through Darius I, and because there was no other great power ready to conquer and destroy it. Yet at the immediate time of his accession there seems to have been a short time of quiet and rest.

In extent no empire before this had such vast dimensions as the Persian. From the Indus and the Oxus on the east to the Aegean, the Bosporus, and Cyprus on the west, all was one vast empire. Its northern boundary was formed by the Euxine and the Caspian seas, with the Caucasus mountains between them, while its southern limits extended to the Indian Ocean, the Persian Gulf, and Arabia. Egypt formed the southwestern limits of the empire, including a part of Ethiopia and Libya on the west. The capital of the empire was Babylon. The divisions of the empire into satrapies, first established by Darius I, was still in vogue. There was the same central government, although the strong man at the center was wanting. Wealth and force, not mind and intelligence, were the controlling powers. The period of active growth had passed and the time of decline and decay had set in.


As we have seen before, Ochus ascended the throne of Cyrus with bloody hands. He had a considerable following at the court and hoped through Atossa, his mother and sister, to win the king’s favor. He won her to his side through a promise to marry her after his father’s death and to make her a partaker in the reign. Slanderous reports concerning him reached his father who then appointed Darius as his successor. Before the death of Artaxerxes II, Darius incurred his ill-will and so lost his claim to the throne. Upon this he made an attempt at the life of his father through Tiribazus. The plot failed and both he and Tiribazus were executed together with fifty others connected with the plot. There were yet two brothers older than Ochus, Arsames and Ariaspes, who were in his way. Ariaspes was considered worthy of the throne by the Persian people on account of his gentleness, uprightness, and friendliness. He was recognized as a reasonable and intelligent man. Ochus knew this and consequently sought his brother’s death. He so annoyed and vexed him continually that Ariaspes ended his own life by drinking the cup of poison. Artaxerxes was too old to see the treachery in this and afterwards loved Arsames all the more and placed full confidence in him. Ochus delayed no longer now. He compelled Harpates, son of Tiribazus, to put Arsames out of the way. Artaxerxes in his old age could not resist any further. Grief and sorrow ended his life in a little while.

Ochus now stood first, and became king in his father’s place, 358. As king he manifested the same sanguinary dispositions as those by which he had placed himself on the throne. Whether by reason of a troubled conscience or from fear of revenge he did not rest till he had killed the remaining members of his family. His sister Ocha, whose daughter he had in the harem, was buried alive. His two younger brothers were assassinated. One of his uncles, with his whole family and children and grandchildren, eighty in one day he ordered to be shot in his courtyard. That he did not put to death all his near relatives is seen from the fact that some appear in later history. His successor, Darius III, and his brother, Oxyathres, were great-grandsons of Darius I Mithredates, the son-in-law of Darius, and Pharmaces, his wife’s brother, are mentioned after the death of Ochus. So also Arbupales, a son of Darius, the brother of Ochus, is mentioned in 334, and Bisthanes, a son of Ochus, in 330. From all the murderous acts of the king Plutarch is justified in saying that Ochus excelled all his predecessors in cruelty and bloodthirstiness.

The difficulties of Ochus were not ended when he had secured the throne and the court. The revolts suppressed by Artaxerxes II were only temporarily quieted. Artabazus, satrap of the Hellespontine Phrygia, like Datames and Ariobarzanes, his immediate predecessor, had rebelled against Artaxerxes II and was captured by Autophradates, but afterwards released. Now when Ochus, in 356, ordered all satraps on the coast whose revolt he feared to discharge their mercenary troops, the orders were obeyed. But when Ochus wanted Artabazus, his nephew—the mother of Artabazus, Aspama, being the daughter of Ochus—to give an account for his previous revolt he refused. At the time of the social war, about 355, he fought against the king’s satraps and was powerfully supported by the Athenians. When rumors of the king’s threats against the Athenians were spread, they left Artabazus in the lurch. But since he was well furnished with money he was able to procure the services of the Theban Pammenes, with 5,000 men, and maintained himself for a long time. When the Thebans also entered into an understanding with the king, his fortune took a turn. In the year 345 Artabazus was a fugitive at the court of Philip of Macedon and with him his brother-in-law, the Rhodian Memnon, one of the most distinguished generals of his time. After the reconquest of Egypt, two years later, Memnon’s brother Mentor was rewarded for his services in the war with Egypt with a hundred talents of silver and other precious gifts, and at the same time was appointed satrap over the rebellious portions on the coast of Asia. Mentor stood in close relation with Memnon and Artabazus and procured pardon for them and their families. From then on till the overthrow of the empire Artabazus remained loyal.

At the same time Artabazus revolted came also the revolt of Orontes, satrap of eastern Armenia under his father-in-law Artaxerxes II. He had fought for the king against Evagoras, king of Salamis in Cyprus 386-363. An intrigue against Tiribazus gave him the chief command in the Cyprian war. When his treachery was discovered the king was displeased and deprived him of his position as satrap of Armenia and banished him to Mysia where he was satrap under the immediate oversight of Autophradates, the most faithful of all satraps. When, at the close of the reign of Artaxerxes II, there was a general uprising in western Asia against the king of Persia, he was appointed commander of the troops of Asia Minor. When the plan failed he betrayed his troops with the hopes of becoming satrap of the coast lands, the position of Cyrus the Younger and of his successor, Tissaphernes. His hopes, however, were not realized. He did not get the position he desired, as a reward for his treachery, but Armenia, of which he was deprived twenty years before. He then entered into an understanding with Nectanebus of Egypt, but before the death of Artaxerxes II was forced to submit again.

And now, after Ochus was upon the throne, this same Orontes revolted again and still with the same aim of becoming satrap of the coast districts, 254-253, and became the king’s most dangerous opponent next to Egypt. He entered into an alliance with Athens. At this time a rumor was current that the king of Persia was preparing a great expedition against Athens and Greece. The Greeks probably felt guilty on account of their wavering policy, and the mercenary support which they had repeatedly lent to rebellious satraps. Demosthenes warned the Athenians against taking a hostile attitude towards the king on the grounds of mere rumors, and advised not to offend the king frivolously, 351. It is probable that Orontes, after concluding a peace favorable to himself, finally obtained what he so long desired, the satrapy of the coast regions, a position he held till after the reconquest of Egypt in 343, when Mentor of Rhodes was appointed to this office by Ochus for the valuable services rendered in that war.

Phoenicia and Cyprus first came under Persian dominion in the days of Darius I. A century later Artaxerxes II, after a war of six years against Euaxares, king of Salamis, on Cyprus, again reduced them to submission from which they never afterwards were able to rise to independence. Toward the close of the reign of Artaxerxes II there was a general revolt of the western states. Egypt, already independent, would have delighted to see other states withdraw from the Persian empire. The satrapies of Asia Minor also desired independence. A general revolt was agreed upon but was suppressed before any real outbreak. This, however, was only the lull before the storm. Through the instigation of Egypt the cities of Phoenicia revolted and were joined by the kings of Cyprus. Evagoras II was at this time king of Salamis, 352.

The revolt broke out in Sidon. It was the custom of the Persian kings wherever they stayed for any length of time to build a park where everything beautiful and valuable which the country produced, both of plants and of animals, was collected. Such a park was at Sidon. This was destroyed by the Sidonians. The hay which the Persian officials had collected for the war with Egypt was burned. The officials themselves were slain. The immediate cause for this revolt may have been the wounding of their religious feelings by the Persian officials, a point on which Semitic people are particularly sensitive. Tyre and Aradus joined with Sidon and soon all Phoenicia was under revolt. Nectanebus II, of Egypt, in answer to a request from Tennes, king of Sidon, sent 4,000 Greek mercenaries under the command of the Rhodian Mentor. Ochus, still engaged in the preparation for the great campaign, sent Belesys, satrap of Syria, and Mizaeus of Cilicia, to check the revolt, but they were driven back by Mentor.

While this was taking place there arose a war on the island of Cyprus. On that island there were nine principal cities and many smaller ones subject to these. Each city had a king, subject to the king of Persia. Following the example of Phoenicia, the nine kings agreed to sever their connection with Persia. In the spring of 350 Ochus sent Idrieus, satrap of Caria, with a fleet of forty triremes and 8,000 Greek mercenaries, led by the Athenian Phocion, and with him Evagoras, formerly a king on the island. They blockaded the city of Salamis by land and by sea. Volunteers came from Syria and Cilicia with the expectation of obtaining a share in the spoils of the city, so that the army of Phocion was doubled. All the cities except Salamis surrendered to the Persians. Evagoras desired the office of king of Salamis, but Ochus retained Phytagoras, then king, who had surrendered to the Persians after the destruction of Sidon. He was king of Salamis till the time of Alexander the Great. Thus the island was once more reduced to submission under the Persian power.

Before the surrender of Salamis the king of Persia had left Babylon and moved with his army toward Phoenicia. His army consisted of 300,000 foot-soldiers, 30,000 horsemen, 300 triremes, and 500 ships of burden, besides other ships to convey provisions. When Tennes heard of the size of the king’s army he lost courage. To save his own life he resolved to betray his city into the enemy’s hands. So he sent his servant Thessalion privily to Ochus with a promise not only to surrender Sidon but to render him valuable services in the reconquest of Egypt. The king rejoiced greatly over this and promised Tennes rich rewards. Of this he gave Thessalion the most reliable security.

Ochus considered the conquest of the greatest importance and consequently sent to the largest cities in Greece to aid him in the expedition. Athens and Sparta replied that they wished to keep the friendship with Persia but that they could not send any troops. Thebes replied with 1,000 heavy armed soldiers under Lacrates; Argos sent 3,000 men at the king’s request and consented to let Nicostratus go as commander; the coast cities of Asia sent 6,000 men, making a total of 10,000. Before their arrival the king had encamped near Sidon, 348.

Because of the king’s delay the Sidonians had provided themselves with sufficient troops and provisions. A triple wall was constructed around the city. They also had more than a hundred triremes and quinqueremes. Tennes now persuaded Mentor to assist in the betrayal and left him in the city, while he himself went out under pretext of going to counsel with the king and took with him a hundred of the leading citizens of Sidon. When he came near the camp he had the hundred men arrested and delivered to Ochus. The king received Tennes as a friend and had the hundred men shot with spears as instigators of the revolt. Afterwards 500 Sidonians, with the signal of fugitives, came to Ochus beseeching him for mercy for the city. These also were captured and slain, so relentless was his anger for the murder of his officers. Tennes then persuaded the Egyptian mercenaries to let him and the king into the city. The betrayer’s turn came next, for he thought now to have no more need of Tennes, and hence he had him slain. Before the king entered the city, the betrayed Sidonians, in their despair, burned all their ships so no one could flee for safety, and then set the city on fire and killed themselves and their dependents. It is said that 40,000 people perished. Ochus then sold the ruins to people who hoped to find melted gold and silver in the ashes. The Greek mercenaries, with their commander Mentor, whom Nectanebus had sent to assist Sidon, now joined Ochus against Egypt. The remainder of Phoenicia readily submitted to the requests of Ochus. This was the severest blow the nation ever received in all its history. This tragic downfall of the once so powerful city must have made a deep impression on the whole world. It was the best preparation for the conquest of Egypt.

The one great aim of Ochus was the reconquest of Egypt. For the wider interests of the empire this was of greatest importance, both because of the great resources of that country and for warding off the danger that might arise from it if left unconquered. Egypt was first conquered by the Persians under Cambyses in 525. The Egyptians, however, never abandoned the hope of regaining their independence. Repeated attempts resulted in failure until in 408, when under Amyrtaeus the desired end was accomplished and Egypt was again independent for a period of sixty-five years. But Persia was unwilling to let go of so valuable a portion of its own empire. Consequently, after the accession of Artaxerxes II to the throne in 404, repeated efforts were made to regain the lost territory. Persia in fact never recognized the independence of Egypt. Already in 389, and again in 374, expeditions were made to subdue the revolting Egyptians but without any encouraging results for Persia. In the early part of his reign Artaxerxes II was occupied in withstanding the attempts of his brother Cyrus the Younger to seize the crown. All through his reign disintegrating forces were at work within the empire, which the king was unable to check completely. Consequently his ability for reconquering Egypt was weakened. On the other hand, Egypt never ceased to stir up revolts in Asia Minor and Phoenicia and Cyprus against the hated Persians.

In the great revolt of the satraps of Asia Minor, in 361, Egypt took an active part. King Tachos sent them money and ships, and planned to move aggressively against Persia with the help of the Spartan king, Agesilaos, and the Athenian Chabrias. He was equipped with 200 well-manned triremes under command of Chabrias, 10,000 chosen Greek mercenaries under Agesilaos, and 80,000 foot-soldiers of Egypt whom he himself commanded. Discord arose concerning the plans of the war and as soon as the expedition started out, the king’s cousin, Nectanebus, rebelled against him and attempted to seize the throne. Agesilaos joined Nectanebus and the whole undertaking was speedily defeated. There was nothing left for Tachos but to flee. He first sought refuge with Straton, king of Sidon, and then fled to the king of Persia and surrendered himself unconditionally. He afterwards died at the king’s court.

In the same year must have occurred an expedition against Egypt under the Persian prince Ochus, the first of the three expeditions made, for we are definitely told by Eusebius that Ochus made an expedition against Egypt while his father Artaxerxes was still living. It is not clear what the results were of this expedition. All that is known is that Nectanebus I was at this time the unlimited monarch of Egypt. Agesilaos was rewarded for his services, but on his way home he died in Cyrene.

When Artaxerxes died and Ochus succeeded him on the throne, Egypt continued to be the main issue for the Persians. Extensive preparations were made and in 354 a second campaign was directed against Egypt, this time not by Ochus in person but by his generals, the satraps of Asia Minor. The outcome was unfavorable to the Persians not only in its immediate results, but also in the effect it had on other portions of the empire and the world without. It encouraged Phoenicia and Cyprus and Cilicia to revolt. In 346 Isocrates used this failure as an argument for Philip to make war against Persia because it was no longer to be feared. And yet this failure did not discourage Ochus but stimulated him to make new and larger preparations. As we have seen before, Ochus set out from Babylon with a tremendous army and had encamped before Sidon which he cruelly destroyed in 348 and rendered all Phoenicia subject to his will.

This victory was itself the first step towards the conquest of Egypt. Other preparations were made. Ochus awaited the troops from Thebes and Argos. In 346 he made the first advance of his third campaign against Egypt. The troops missed the way of entrance and a part of the army perished in the Barathra, the Serbonian swamp between Mount Kasios and Damiata, half-way between Syria and Egypt, surrounded on all sides by sand-hills, which were frequently carried into the swamp, forming a bottomless marsh so that entire armies not knowing the nature of the swamp could sink down. Ochus was forced to return to Phoenicia till the spring of the following year, when he again started out against Egypt. His army consisted of three divisions, led by three Greek and three Persian generals: the first of Boeotian mercenaries led by the Theban Lakrates and Rosaces, satraps of Ionia and Lydia; the second of troops from Argos led by Nikastrates and the Persian Aristabazus; the third of the Greek mercenaries sent by Egypt to Sidon, now led by the Rhodian Mentor and the Persian eunuch Bagoas. Ochus followed with the remaining troops as a reserve force.

The army of Nectanebus consisted of 20,000 Greek and 20,000 Libyan mercenaries and 60,000 Egyptians. The land was well fortified. All the Nile entrances were strongly fortified, especially the one at Pelusium. But Nectanebus was no great general. Ochus advanced upon Pelusium. The Greek generals succeeded through their maneuvering to bring Nectanebus out of his position. Consequently he withdrew to Memphis. The approach of the army was enough to cause the coward to flee to Ethiopia. The remaining cities surrendered one after the other. The fortifications were broken down, the temples plundered and the sacred books carried away, and returned by Bagoas to the priests only after these paid large sums for them. Ochus treated the religion of Egypt with little more respect than did Cambyses before him. Not only did he desecrate their temples but he even slaughtered the sacred animals. This may account for the fact that neither his name nor that of his successors is mentioned in the inscriptions.

This reconquest was a great triumph for Persia. Through it the name of Ochus received respect. Yet it was not hard to see that the victory was due to the Greek troops and commanders, and that the Persians did not conquer by reason of their ability in war but simply because they had the most money to pay mercenary troops. It was to Mentor and not to Bagoas that the king chiefly owed his success. Mentor was the real conqueror of Egypt, yet the presence of the king and his prompt decisions contributed much to the speedy results. Mentor was splendidly rewarded. He received the satrapy of the coast regions of Asia Minor. By cunning and treachery he quickly removed Hermias, the tyrant of Alarucus and the friend of Aristotle, who had concluded treaties like an independent prince and stood in suspicious relations with king Philip of Macedon. The Greek mercenaries were paid and dismissed. Pherendates was appointed satrap of Egypt, and Ochus returned triumphantly to his capital, Babylonia, in 343. Egypt remained a Persian province till the close of the empire.

The rise of Macedonia as a political power dates from Philip II, 359-336. Before him it had no special bearing upon Persian history, although invaded and temporarily conquered by Xerxes in 480. While Philip entered upon the work of expanding his territory, his eyes were first of all fixed upon Greece. At first his invasions were resisted by Athens. For ten years there was war between them. The bitter opponent of Philip was Demosthenes, the greatest orator of Greece, who at this time had espoused the cause of the democracy, whose party leader he became. He saw more clearly than anyone else the designs of Philip, and recognized in him a dangerous enemy of Athens and of all Greece. And yet in spite of all opposition Philip advanced step by step into Greek territory. Pydna and Potidaea, two Athenian cities, fell in 356. Three years later Philip invaded Thessaly and Phocis, and obtained supremacy there. Demos­thenes poured out his bitter invectives against Philip to arouse the Athenians to a sense of their danger. He believed the only safety for Greece now lay in an alliance with the Persians against Philip. He favored the negotiations now going on between Athens and the king of Persia, who indeed repeatedly sent subsidies for the conflict with Macedonia.

In 349 Philip advanced into Thrace and conquered the Athenian Olynthus. The only hope now of saving middle Greece from the inroads of Philip was to enter into a treaty of peace with him. Even Demosthenes consented to this. There arose at this time a Macedonian party right in Athens under the leadership of Aeschines, the rival politician of Demosthenes. Differences arose between the two orators which later resulted in irreconcilable animosity. A peace was, however, concluded in 346, which gave Philip the Athenian colonies on the Thracian coast. In a letter of Darius to Alexander it is definitely stated that Philip concluded a peace also with Ochus shortly after the reconquest of Egypt. The king’s intentions no doubt were pure but not so those of Philip. He had to subdue Greece first before he could conquer Asia Minor, and for this purpose peace with Persia was advantageous to him. The honest but politically shortsighted Isocrates overlooked this fact when he urged Philip to attack Persia. Philip saw in Persia a great obstacle to his aims for a large empire. Hence his attitude toward Persia was definite and decisive. Persia must recede before Macedonia. The only reason for delay was to await the proper moment. It is probable that Philip tried to gain a foothold in Asia Minor through Artabazus who had fled to his court for safety. But when Ochus, after the reconquest of Egypt, appointed the skillful general and diplomat, Mentor, and restored Artabazus to his hereditary satrapy, he understood the political situation. He thereby fortified Asia Minor. He was aware of Philip’s plans. There was no immediate danger, but Ochus noticed the attempts of Philip to secure the mastery of the Bosporus and of the Hellespont. This was sufficient cause for alarm.

It was in the year 340 that Philip sent a fleet into the Hellespont and began to besiege Perinthus. Philip’s plans were no longer a secret. Conflict between Macedonia and Persia were now inevitable. The Athenians sent an embassy to Ochus for help against Philip which Ochus refused, for he was not well disposed toward the Athenians. But when Philip continued his siege of Perinthus, Ochus ordered the coast satraps to help Perinthus with all their power. Through the help of Athens and Persia Perinthus was saved from the power of Philip. Thereupon Ochus sent troops to invade Thrace in order to weaken Philip in his own country, but with little effect. The help that Persia gave Perinthus was to the Macedonians equivalent to a declaration of war. The Persians did not see as we now do from the result, that it was necessary for them to prevent the subjugation of Greece to insure their own safety. Or if they saw it they lacked energy to act. The reasons for their failure to help Athens and Greece are not evident. After the battle of Chaeronea, 338, Philip was master of Greece. Just at this time Ochus died and was succeeded by his son Arses. Upon this Philip openly sought to unite the Greeks against the Persians. In the spring of 336 he sent troops to Asia Minor to free the Greek cities. But Persia was not to suffer much at his hands, for in the summer of the same year Philip was assassinated. Persia was granted a breathing-spell but only for a brief while. The work which Philip had begun was carried to its completion by his son and successor on the throne, Alexander the Great.


The reliable sources outside of the Old Testament for the history of Judea, during the reign of Ochus, are scanty. Only fragmentary evidence is at hand, yet of sufficient reliability to enable us to form a reasonably definite conception of the conditions and events during that time. Judea always held a middle geographical position between larger and contending countries. At first it was Assyria and after that Babylonia on the one side, and Egypt on the other. Now it was Persia and Egypt in their long-continued struggles with each other. So closely was Judea connected with Phoenicia and Syria that it was always affected by their successes or reverses, so that Judea’s fate can be inferred partly from that of its close-linked neighbors. That violent disturbances occurred among the Jews during the reign of Ochus is generally recognized among historians. Just what these disturbances were, and through what agencies they were brought about, and at what definite time, are matters of less certainty and of differences of opinion.

There appear to have been two uprisings in Judea during the reign of Ochus. This was established already by Gutschmied. The first of these came in close connection with the second campaign of Ochus against Egypt, 353-52.2 It is more than likely that the Jews revolted against the Persians who, on their way to Egypt, passed in front of their homes. Why should they be led away into captivity to Hyrcania  except for revolting against the Persians and for refusing to yield to all their wishes and encroachments? Since the days of Jeremiah Egypt had been more or less of an asylum for many Jews. In this way there may have grown up something of a kindred feeling between Jews and Egyptians. This fact may also have added to the Jewish hatred of the Persians now advancing against Egypt under the command of the satraps of Asia Minor. Both Diodorus and Plutarch speak of the cruelty of Ochus in his court and in his rule over the empire. From such a ruler we would then expect just such treatment of the Jews who showed no inclination to be obedient subjects to a nation whose religion was so different from their own.

Actual traces of just what we would otherwise expect are found in our historic sources. The first of these to notice is a quotation from Solinus 35.4: “Judaeae caput fuit Hierusolyma, sed excisa est. Successit Hierichus: et haec desivit, Artaxerxis bello subacta”. Dodwell and more recently Th. Reinach advanced the supposition that the Artaxerxes mentioned is Ardashir I, the founder of the Sassanid kingdom, 224-242 AD, who threatened Syria under Alexander Severus in 233 AD. Reinach thinks that Solinus misinterpreted his source, Plinius, and wrote Jericho for Machaerus. “Solin aurait mal interprété le texte de Pline, changé par inadvertance Machaerus en Hiericus”. How could Solinus, a writer of mediocrity, get a hold of such an isolated fact? The destruction of Jerusalem was that of the year 70 AD through Titus, after which Jericho also was destroyed. “Hierichus successit” must be interpreted cum grano salis, not that Jericho became the capital of Judea, but that it was the second city in rank. And this it was no more in the fourth century, hence it experienced a disaster after Titus and before Solinus. Within this time there was an Artaxerxes, namely Ardashir I. He and not Ochus is meant in the quotation of Solinus. Jericho was destroyed not by the Persians but by the Romans for siding with the Persians. For how could the Persians invade Jericho with its strong fortifications? Moreover, why should they? What occasion was there for it? There was no cause for the Jews to be provoked at the Persians, but every reason for them to hate the Romans who imposed taxes upon them and restricted their efforts in making proselytes. Finally the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus could easily have been mistaken for that of Alexander Severus by Solinus following Jerome and Eusebius. Reinach concludes by admitting that this is only a conjecture, but thinks that it has the advantage of not doing violence to the text and that it affords a more reasonable view of the history. Schürer inclines to accept this and calls the quotation a confused remark usually applied to the campaign of Ochus against the Jews. He is followed by E. Meyer who thinks it better to apply the passage to the reign of Ardashir I. Cheyne also accepts the conclusion of Reinach.

On the other hand, is it not just as easy to assume that Solinus had a source unknown to us otherwise, from which he learned the fact stated, as to think that he confused names and dates of events? Why should the Romans destroy Jericho when the enemy with whom the Jews are supposed to have sympathized never crossed the Euphrates at this time? It is just as easy, and this may be the correct interpretation, to take “excisa est” cum grano salis as “Hierichus successit”, and say that the disaster that befell Jerusalem was not a destruction like that through Nebuchadrezzar, or later through Antiochus Epiphanes, or through Antiochus Sidetes, nor yet like that of Titus, but some lesser disaster that made less impression upon the world outside and yet temporarily at least made Jerusalem unfit or undesirable for a capital.

Mommsen has rightly taken the opposite view and has conclusively shown the impossibility of Reinach’s conclusion since there is no evidence that Ardashir I ever came near Palestine. Twice he made an attempt to advance westward, but was unable to cross the Mesopotamian desert. In 233 he met with some success in the Roman Asiatic possessions, but was defeated by Alexander Severus in a great battle. Under the Roman Maximus, 235-238, Mesopotamia came into the power of Ardashir and the Persians again threatened to cross the Euphrates. In 242 the Romans once more declared war against the Persians and defeated them completely. Ardashir had demanded from Rome all the provinces formerly in the empire of Darius but never obtained them. There was a long and bitter conflict between the Romans and the Sassanids, but no evidence can be adduced that Ardashir ever crossed the Euphrates. Nothing is mentioned of a destruction of Jericho. Mommsen says: “Hoc scio neque a Solino usquam talia citari ipsius aetate gesta neque Artaxerxen ilium attigisse Palaestinam”. The citation from Dio Cassius does not prove in any way that Ardashir advanced farther than the Euphrates. Holscher therefore rightly concludes that the quotation from Solinus points to Artaxerxes II and that since there is nothing against its credibility there remains nothing but to accept it as fact.

Another reference is found in Eusebius. There is some doubt as to the sources from which Eusebius drew his information but scarcely any as to the credibility of the facts mentioned.

Confirming evidence is also found in the condition of the Jericho valley at this time, as Holscher has shown from Diodorus who had for his source in this case Hieronymus of Kardia, who wrote in the days of Antigonus, 323-301, a successor of Alexander the Great. No more reliable source could be asked for. According to this source the whole Jericho valley in the last decade of the fourth century was no longer Jewish but Arabian, whom Hieronymus calls Nabataeans. Holscher has pointed out that their territory included Idumaea, which extended from Engedi northward. These Idumaeans then pressed into the Jericho valley after its desolation. As in earlier deportations, so now not all Jews were removed, but enough so that the general character of the land became Arabian.

There is no other evidence that Xerxes ever forced the Jews into subjection. It is very probable that we are to understand with Holscher that the original reading was Artaxerxes (III) instead of Xerxes. He thinks that the information is based on Timagenes who wrote during the latter half of the first century BC.

Taking all these evidences together we have the strong probability if not the absolute certainty that Jericho was devastated and that the Jews were deported to Hyrcania during the reign of Ochus, and, as shown before, within the year 353-352, as a punishment for their rebellion or at least for their refusal to submit to the Persian rule. This conclusion is strengthened by the fact that there was a large colony of Jews in Hyrcania numbering in the Roman time not only thousands but millions. Granted that many of these went there of their own choice and that many more were born there, the acceptance of these historic references explains the beginning of the colony, which is otherwise not explained in history. Finally, also, the frequent occurrence of the name Hyrcanus among the Jews points in the same direction, and to the time of Ochus rather than to a later period, since in the later period the name is already in common use.

The second revolt of the Jews during the reign of Ochus, as Judeich, followed by Guthe, has clearly shown, came in connection with the third campaign against Egypt shortly after the destruction of Sidon, 348, and before the final reconquest of Egypt, 343. Noldeke incorrectly connects this with the first revolt, and Stade places it still earlier, namely in the reign of Artaxerxes Mnemon, while Schurer is uncertain as to the date. Willrich supposes the Josephus section to refer to an event of the Maccabaean period. Bagoses is not the Persian Bagoas but Antiochus Epiphanes. Josephus did not make Ochus a persecutor of the Jews. In fact Ochus was not an enemy of the Jews. All the references originated from the Josephus passage and that does not refer to Ochus but to Antiochus Epiphanes. That this conclusion does not stand appears already from a historic examination of the sources. Such confusing or changing of names is not in harmony with the historic method of Josephus. Already Ewald considered it likely that the Jews rebelled with their near neighbors, the Phoenicians, against the Persians. This is indeed more than probable. Otherwise it is difficult to see why their temple should be polluted and additional burdens be laid upon them. It was the common practice of the Persians to inflict such visitations upon revolting colonists.

In the section of Josephus we read that after the death of the high priest Eliashib, his son Judas succeeded him in that office, and he in turn was followed by Johanan. He gave Bagoses ( = Bagoas) occasion to desecrate the temple and to burden the Jews with a compulsory tax of fifty drachmas from the common income for every lamb before the sacrifice. This came about as follows: Johanan had a brother, Jesus, to whom Bagoses, as to a good friend, had promised the office of high priest. This led to a quarrel between the two brothers in which Johanan slew Jesus. This was an outrageous act on the part of the high priest, so much more horrible since such an ungodly act was unheard of either among the Greeks or the barbarians. Consequently, as a result for this act, God allowed the people to be reduced to servitude and their temple to be polluted by the Persians. For as soon as Bagoses learned that Johanan slew his brother in the temple he censured the Jews with the reproach: “And so you dared to commit a murder in your temple?” And when they refused him entrance into their temple he said to them: “Am I not purer than the man who committed murder in the temple?” And with these words he entered the temple. The death of Jesus gave Bagoses a desired occasion to oppress the Jews seven years.

We have found historic traces which bear upon the period and throw rays of light upon it that enable us to understand to some extent the conditions of the Jewish community in the days of Ochus.

It remains yet, after a look at what Ochus did for his own and succeeding ages and what sort of a man he was, to examine the Biblical records to find what light they will throw upon the period under consideration.




Ochus at last fell a prey to the treachery of his most trusted general Bagoas shortly after the battle of Chaeronaea, 338. Bagoas, fearing a change in the favor of the king, and in order to avenge the death of the Egyptian Apis through Ochus, caused the king to drink poison and placed Arses, the youngest son of Ochus, on the throne. All his other sons he killed. When Arses would not let Bagoas rule, he too, together with all his children, was slain, and a friend of the eunuch, Codomannus, a son of Arsanes, and a great-grandson of Darius II, was placed upon the throne. He in turn caused Bagoas to drink the poison which Bagoas had prepared for him, because he would not yield to the wishes of the eunuch. The same year that Codomannus ascended the throne, 336, Philip II was assassinated and followed by his son Alexander. With the death of Ochus and the accession of Alexander the death-knell of the Persian empire was sounded. It required only a little more time for the inevitable to take place.

Ochus was the first Persian ruler since Darius I who had in person energetically conducted a great expedition and restored the empire to its former greatness. It was a great pity that he died just at this critical moment, for far more than in the days of Darius I did the empire center in the personality of the king. The last years of his reign show a prompt management and a powerful rule. He was shrewd enough to place the right men in whom he could have confidence into the most important offices, a management which was not always found in oriental courts. Plutarch said of Ochus that he excelled all his predecessors in cruelty and in blood-thirstiness. Grote calls him “a sanguinary tyrant who shed by wholesale the blood of his family and courtiers”. He was energetic and determined, but treacherous and cruel, an oriental despot of an extreme type. His cruelty shows itself alike in his court before and after his accession, and in his rule over the empire in Sidon and in Egypt. No means were too low for him just so they would accomplish his ends. Cheyne mentions “the insane cruelties of that degenerate king, Ochus”. And Noldeke says “he was, it appears, one of those great despots who can raise up again for a time a decayed oriental empire, who shed blood without scruple and are not nice in the choice of means, but who in the actual position of affairs do usually contribute to the welfare of the state as a whole”.




358 Nectanebus II, King of Egypt, 361-343.

Philip II, King of Macedon, 359-336.

Death of Artaxerxes II, Mnemon, King of Persia, 404-358.

Accession of Artaxerxes III, Ochus, to the throne of Persia, 358-338.

Death of Agesilaus, King of Sparta, 398-358.


357 First war between Philip and Athens, 357-346.

War of the separate League of Rhodes, Chios, and Byzantium against Athens, 357-355.


356 Ochus commands the coast satraps to dismiss their mercenary troops.

Revolt of Artabazus, and Orontes who fortifies Pergamon.


355 Outbreak of the Phocian war, 355-346.

Ochus makes preparations for the campaign in the west.

Orontes subdued by Autophradates.


354 Artabazus seeks help from the Thebans.


353 Conflict of the Persians with revolting Jews. Jericho conquered.

Second campaign of Ochus against Egypt, under the command of his generals.

Pammenes sent by Thebes to assist Artabazus.

Athens supports the revolting Egyptians.

Orontes subdued by Ochus.

Demosthenes' speech, De Rhodiorum Libertate

Independence of the Rhodians.


352 League between Orontes and Athens.

Disagreement between Artabazus and Pammenes. Artabazus flees to Macedon.

Peace between Ochus and Orontes. Orontes made satrap of western Asia Minor.

351 Ochus makes preparations against Egypt. Revolt in Sidon and entire Phoenicia against Persia. Revolt in Cyprus. Evagoras II, of Salamis, banished. Pnytagoras made king in his stead.

League between Phoenicia and Egypt.

Idrieus satrap of Karia, 351-344.

Mizaeus of Celicia and Belesys of Syria sent by Ochus to suppress the revolt in Cyprus. Repulsed.

  350 Phocion and Euagoras II land in Egypt and blockade Salami.

349 Ochus seeks aid from the cities of Greece. Athens and Sparta neutral. Thebes and Argos send aid. Phytagoras recognized by the Persians as king of Salamis.

348 Ochus in Syria. Sidon destroyed. Phoenicia conquered. Euagoras II satrap in Sidon. The Jews oppressed by Bagoas.

346 First attempt by Ochus in his third campaign against Egypt, 346-343. Peace between Athens and Philip II.

  345 Second attempt of Ochus against Egypt. Nectanebus II flees to Memphis. Mentor appointed by Ochus over the satrapies of western Asia Minor.

344 League between Philip and Ochus.

343 Conquest of Egypt. Nectanebus II flees to Ethiopia. Pharendates appointed satrap of Egypt. Ochus returns to Persia.

340 Ochus refused to enter into a league with Athens against Philip.

339 Nectanebus II dies. Persian troops in Thrace fighting against Macedon

338 Battle of Chaeronea. Peace between Philip and Athens. Philip commander-in-chief over Hellenic troops against Persia.

Death of Ochus. Succeeded by Arses, 338-335.

336 Death of Philip II. Succeeded by Alexander the Great.