NameArtaxerxes I King of Persia
Birthabt 500 BC
Death425 BC
MotherAmestris (Amastris) (-~440bc)
Misc. Notes
King of Persia (465-425) who sanctioned the practice of Judaism in Jerusalem.

Artaxerxes I to Darius III

The death of Xerxes was a major turning point in Achaemenid history. Occasional flashes of vigour and intelligence by some of Xerxes' successors were too infrequent to prevent eventual collapse but did allow the empire to die gradually. It is a tribute to Cyrus, Cambyses, and Darius that the empire they constructed was as resilient as it proved to be after Xerxes.


The three kings that followed Xerxes on the throne-- Artaxerxes I (465-425 BC), Xerxes II (425-424 BC), and Darius II Ochus (423-404 BC)--were all comparatively weak individuals and kings, and such successes as the empire enjoyed during their reigns were mainly the result of the efforts of subordinates or of the troubles faced by their adversaries. Artaxerxes I faced several rebellions, the most important of which was that of Egypt in 459 BC, not fully suppressed until 454 BC. An advantageous peace (the Peace of Callias) with Athens was signed in 448 BC, whereby the Iranian agreed to stay out of the Aegean and the Athenians agreed to leave Asia Minor to the Achaemenids. Athens broke the peace in 439 BC in an attack on Samos, and in its aftermath the Iranians made some military gains in the west. Xerxes II ruled only about 45 days and was killed in a drunken stupor by the son of one of his father's concubines. The assassin was himself killed by Darius II, who rose to the throne through palace intrigue. Several revolts marred his reign, including one in Media, which was rather close to home.


The major event of these three reigns was the Peloponnesian War between Sparta and Athens that lasted, with occasional pauses, from 460 to 404 BC. The situation was ripe for exploitation by the famous "Persian archers," the gold coins of the Achaemenids that depicted an archer on their obverse and that were used with considerable skill by the Iranian in bribing first one Greek state and then another. Initially, the Iranian encouraged Athens against Sparta and from this gained the treaty of Callias. Then, after the disastrous Athenian campaign against Sicily in 413 BC, the Iranian intervened on Sparta's side. By the treaty of Miletus in 412 BC, Iran recovered complete freedom in western Asia Minor in return for agreeing to pay for seamen to man the Peloponnesian fleet. Persian gold and Spartan soldiers brought about Athens' fall in 404 BC. Despite the fact that the Iranian played the two sides against each other to much advantage, they should have done better. One observes a certain lack of control from Susa by the king in these proceedings, and the two principal governors in Asia Minor who were involved, Tissaphernes of Sardis and Pharnabazus of Hellespontine Phrygia, seemed to have permitted a personal power rivalry to stand in the way of a really co-ordinated Iranian intervention in the Greek war.
Birthabt 514 BC, Babylon
ChildrenParysatis (-~395bc)
Birth491 BC, Babylon
ChildrenDarius (Ochus) II (~475bc-~404bc)
Last Modified 24 Jul 2003Created 4 Sep 2012 using Reunion for Macintosh