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Satrap's Revolt, c.370s-350s

Satrap's Revolt, c.370s-350s

Satrap's Revolt, c.370s-350s

The Satrap's Revolt (c.370s-350s) was a prolonged period of unrest within the Persian Empire, marked by a series of revolts by the satraps, or provincial governors. By the end of the period the Persian emperors had regained control of most of their empire, mainly because the satraps rarely coordinated their activities. A key feature of the period is that the loyal satraps of one stage of the revolt became the rebels of the next stage,

The nearest we have to a narrative account of the revolt is provided by Diodorus (XV 90-3 and XVI), but he focuses on the third phase of the revolt. Nepos provides a life of Datames, the leader of the first phase of the revolt in the 370s and a key figure in the third and main phase of the revolt. Xenophon provides some details of the second phase in his life of Agesilaus of Sparta. Polyaenus provides a series of anecdotes about several of the Persian satraps involved in the revolt. These are perhaps the most frustrating, hinting at otherwise unknown battles and campaigns.

The revolt is poorly documented, and many of the details that we do have come as anecdotes about individual commanders, or contradict each other. Here we will follow the framework used in the second edition of the Cambridge Ancient History, but other reconstructions are perfectly possible. The CAH splits the revolt into four phases. First was the revolt of Datames in the 370s. Second was the revolt of Ariobarzanes in the early-mid 360s. The third phase was most serious and involved most of the satraps of Asia Minor as well as the Egyptians. These three revolts were all against Artaxerxes II, but by the end of his reign the Empire had largely been restored. The four and final phase of the revolt came in the mid 350s, during the reign of Artaxerxes III. This time the main rebel was Artabazus, one of the key loyalists in the earlier parts of the revolt.

1: Datames's Revolt, 370s

In c.373 a massive Persian attack on Egypt, led by Pharabazus and with Greek mercenary supplied, failed. In 372 Datames, satrap of Cilicia, was appointed Persian commander in Egypt, replacing Pharabazus (at about the same time as Timotheus replaced Iphicrates in command of the Athenian contingent to the Persian army). Datames's friends at court warned him that many of Artaxerxes II's courtiers were plotting against him, and any failure in Egypt would lead to lead to his downfall. Datames decided to rebel, left the Persian army, and moved to Cappadocia and Paphlagonia.

Artaxerxes was warned of the revolt by Datames's son Scismas, who deserted the rebels. Artaxerxes sent Autophradates of Lydia to deal with the revolt. Autophradates was defeated in the first battle of the campaign, and then in a series of small encounters. Eventually Autophradates was forced to admit defeat. Datames probably made a face-saving deal, sending envoys to Artaxerxes II, but effectively become independent. His coins have been found at Sinope and Amisus on the Black Sea coast, Tarsus on the Cilician coast (southern Asia Minor) and Side in Pamphylia, further west along the same coast. After the eventual defeat of Datames during the third stage of the revolt the coastal part of Cappadocia (Pontus) remained independent.

2: Ariobarzanes's Revolt

There were probably two completing satraps of Hellespontine Phrygia at the start of the 360s. Until around 387 the post had been held by Pharnabazus, but it that year he was recorded as being at court for his marriage to a daughter of Artaxerxes II, and he didn't return. In that year Ariobarzenes, was acting as satrap of Phrygia, possibly as regent for Artabazus, son of Pharnabazus. By the start of the 360s Artabazus had come of age, and may have been driven into exile by Ariobarzanes, who was probably his uncle (Xenophon, Hellenica, IV.1.40 in passing).

In 368 Philiscus of Abydus, an ambassador from Ariobarzanes, arrived in Greece. He arrived in the middle of the brief period of Theban ascendency, at a point when Athens and Sparta were allied against Thebes. His first act was to summon a peace conference at Delphi, but this fell apart over the issue of Messene (Sparta wanted to maintain her control over that city, Thebes wanted her to be independent). After the failure of the peace conference, Philiscus began to recruit of mercenaries. According to Xenophon (Hellenic, VII.1.27) these troops were being raised to help Sparta, but the general suspicion is that Ariobarzanes was preparing to revolt.

Despite these preparations, Ariobarzanes's revolt didn't go well. Artaxerxes sent Mausolus, satrap of Caria and Autophradates, satrap of Lydia, to attack him. When our sources resume the story Ariobarzanes was being besieged in either Adramyttium in Mysia or Assus (further west along the same coast), while his allies were besieged in Sestos, on the Thracian Chersonese (modern Gallipoli). Ariobarzanes asked for help from Athens and Sparta. Both cities sent troops, but the Athenians withdrew when they realised that this would break their terms of their treaty with Artaxerxes II. The Spartans, led by King Agesilaus, were more active. Autophradates is said to have fled in terror when they arrived, while Mausolus was persuaded to lift his naval blockade. In the aftermath of the sieges Mausolus paid the Spartans a considerable sum, possibly to hire mercenaries for his own revolt.

3: The General Revolt

The exact nature of this largest phase of the revolt is unclear. Diodorus lists a number of local peoples who rose against Artaxerxes (the coastal inhabitants of Mysia, Pamphylia, Lycia and the Greek cities of Asia), but also says that the satraps and generals made war of Artaxerxes. His account of the revolt supports the idea that it was carried out by the satraps and their troops.

The revolt involved most of the satraps of western Asia Minor. Orontes, satrap of Armenia or Mysia, was given command of the revolt. Mausolus of Caria, Autophradates of Lydia, Datames and Ariobarzanes of Hellespontine Phrygia were also involved. Tachos, pharaoh of Egypt, was involved in the last stage of the revolt. Artabazus probably remained loyal to Artaxerxes. Between them these satraps controlled most of the western satrapies, although the situation in Greater Phrygia in the interior of Asia Minor is unclear.

In 362 BC the rebels probably attempted a three-pronged assault on the heart of the Persian Empire. Datames attacked across the Euphrates into the heart of the empire. Orontes moved into Syria. Tachos and Agesilaus invaded Phoenicia from the south.

At this point the revolt collapsed. Orontes proved to have been a poor choice of commander. He evidently decided that he could gain more by betraying his fellow rebels. When the money arrived he arrested the couriers, and handed them over to Artaxerxes. He then handed over many cities and their garrisons to Artaxerxes's officers. As reward he was probably made satrap of Armenia.

Tachos was undone by his lack of financial sense. He raised a powerful army (200 triremes, 10,000 Greek mercenaries and 80,000 Egyptian troops according to Diodorus). The Greek troops were commanded by King Agesilaus of Sparta, the Greek fleet by Chabrias of Athens. Another 500 talents and 50 warships were give to Rheomithres, an envoy from the rebel satraps, who on his return to Asia Minor changed sides and betrayed a number of his former conspirators to Artaxerxes.

Tachos decided to advance into Phoenicia with most his army. He left Tjahepimu in charge of the garrison of Egypt, where the costs of the war had caused a great deal of discontent. Tjahepimu rebelled in the name of his son Nectanabo, then serving with the army in Phoenicia. He had command of the Egyptian troops and had been sent to besiege a number of cities. When the news of his father's revolt reached him, Nectanabo won over his troops. With Egypt and his army lost, Tachos fled to Artaxerxes, who pardoned him and took him into his service. Nectanabo took the throne as Nectanebo II (r.c.360-343 BC), the last native Egyptian pharaoh.

The fate of Datames is well recorded, although the campaign that led up to it is rather less clear. Polyaenus records a campaign against Artaxerxes in which Datames crossed the River Euphrates, but was forced to retreat when Artaxerxes threatened him with a larger army. The Cambridge Ancient History places this campaign in 362, although Polyaenus was more interested in anecdotes and doesn't say what order his stories occurred in.

Diodorus places a battle between Datames and Artabazus at this point in his narrative, but also includes the betrayal of Datames by his father in law Mithrobarzanes, which other sources suggest happened somewhat earlier. Datames is victorious, and Artaxerxe decided to have him murdered (Diodorus, XV 91.2-6)

Cornelius Nepo and Polyaenus tell the same story about his eventual defeat. Artaxerxes agreed to give Mithridates son of Ariobarzanes a free hand to deal with Datames. Mithridates pretended to join the revolt, and ravaged a number of Persian provinces. This convinced Datames that he could be trusted, and he came to a meeting with Mithridates. Mithridates had picked the location, and had buried some weapons at the site. At the end of the meeting he dug up one of the hidden weapons, and stabbed Datames (Cornelius Nepos, Datames, X-XI, Diodorus)

Mausolus returned to Persian loyalty by 361/0 and kept his posts in Caria (some also suggest that he got Lycia as a reward).

4: Revolt of Artabazus

In 359 Artaxerxes II died and was succeeded by Artaxerxes III. In an attempt to end the endless run of revolts, the new emperor ordered the satraps to disband their mercenary armies. Most obeyed, but Artabazus refused, and after a record of loyalty finally rebelled.

Artabazus seems to have relied very heavily on Greek mercenaries. At the start of his revolt he was able to employ Chares, an Athenian commander who had been sent to Asia Minor to put down a revolt amongst Athenian allies (Social War). Chares ran short of money, and was hired by Artabazus. Together they won a battle which Chares rather boastfully described as 'a sister to Marathon'. Artaxerxes was worried enough to apply pressure on Athens, threatening to provide 300 warships to support their enemies. The Athenians recalled Chares.

Artabazus then turned to Thebes, then suffering financially in the Third Sacred War and lacking first-rate leadership since the death of Epaminondas in 362. Thebes sent 5,000 troops under the able Pammenes. Pammenes and Artabazus won two victories, but Artabazus then became suspicious of Pammenes and had him murdered. At some point soon after this Artaxerxes paid Thebes 300 Attic talents, one years pay for 5,000 men, suggesting that he had hired the leaderless Thebans.

Artabazus still had the support of some able leaders, including the brothers Mentor and Memnon of Rhodes, but despite their best efforts he was forced into exile at the court of Philip II of Macedon. Memnon accompanied him, while Mentor went to Egypt. Eventually Mentor entered the Persian service, and was able to convince Artaxerxes to pardon Artabazus, whose career lasted into the reign of Alexander the Great.

In his Against Aristocrates of c.353-2 Demosthenes refers to the recent arrest of Artabazus by Autophradates. This may have come at the end of this stage of the revolt, after the failure of the rebellion but before Artabazus went into exile.


The end of the Satrap's Revolt didn't end unrest with the Persian Empire. There was a revolt in Phoenicia in around 351 after the failure of an attack on Egypt, but Artaxerxes III was generally successful. He was finally able to re-conquer Egypt in 343 after a series of unsuccessful Persian attacks. The constant unrest must also have made an impressive in Greece and Macedonia, playing a part in convincing Philip II of Macedon that the Persian Empire was vulnerable to attack.

The Financial Conquests Of The Banker-Tyrant, Eubulus, In the War-torn 4th Century BCE

A certain Eubulus (not to be confused with the Athenian statesman with the same name), was a banker or moneylender who operated in the region of Anatolia during the reign of King Artaxerxes II of Persia (r. 404-358 BCE). It was a profitable place for a war profiteer, as satraps and vassals from the Anatolian region continuously rebelled against King Artaxerxes during his reign. Both the rebels and the loyalists needed money for their military goals, and Eubulus was there to lend it—for interest and sureties, of course.

Artaxerxes’ own brother, Cyrus the Younger (who governed the Anatolian regions of Lydia, Cappadocia, and Phrygia) rebelled in 401 BCE and died trying to usurp his brother’s throne. Although Cyrus was killed, the revolt lived on in many Greek settlements in Anatolia, which refused to submit to Artaxerxes II’s authority. Sparta aided these rebellious Anatolian cities for the first half of the 390s BCE, but Spartan attentions were soon called back to the Greek mainland by the Corinthian War (c. 395-387 BCE). Just as Artaxerxes’ loyalists were regaining momentum in Anatolia, King Evagoras (in Cyprus) rebelled against the Persians, persisting in his unsuccessful revolt for around a decade, lasting from about 391/390 to 381 BCE. Although a decade of relative peace in Anatolia followed Evagoras’ defeat, an even greater uprising was brewing—the so-called Satraps’ Revolt.

In 368 BCE, Datames (satrap of Cilicia and Cappadocia) rebelled against Artaxerxes II, and the revolt was joined by Ariobarzanes (satrap of Hellespont Phrygia) the next year, in 367 BCE. Although loyalist forces were again dispatched to crush the rebellion, the revolt only grew. By 364 BCE, reportedly all of the major Anatolian satraps had joined the rebellion, and Orontes (satrap of Armenia) also took the opportunity to rebel. Yet, after about 362 BCE, the rebellion began to lose momentum. In the following years, internal dissension, assassinations, and the surrender of key rebel leaders back to the side of Artaxerxes II led to the downfall of the revolt. Before the rebellion was finally over, however, the aforementioned banker and moneylender, Eubulus, had already made some interesting deals.

Eubulus evidently was a ruthless negotiator in his terms, as can be seen from what he obtained from the Persians during the years of profitable chaos. Somehow or other, Eubulus was able to loan and lend his way into seizing power and lordship over certain Persian lands. Through his terms and conditions, the banker is known to have taken possession of at least two cities—Atarneus and Assos—where he ruled as an authoritarian tyrant.

After the Satraps’ Revolt had run its course, the Persians tried to retake Eubulus’ cities. The philosopher, Aristotle (who was a friend of Eubulus’ successor, Hermias), recorded for posterity a story of how Eubulus dealt with Persian attacks on Atarneus. Aristotle wrote:

“When Autophradates [satrap of Lydia] was about to lay siege to Atarneus, its ruler Eubulus told him to consider how long it would take to complete the capture of the place, and then count the cost of a war of that duration. ‘For,’ he added, ‘I am willing now to abandon Atarneus in return for a smaller sum of money than that.’ These words of Eubulus caused Autophradates to think again and to abandon the siege” (Aristotle, The Politics, Bekker page 1267a).

Eubulus was able to maintain power, ruling his realm independently from the Persians. He died around the year 355 BCE, by which time Hermias took over the reins of government. Under Hermias’ rule, Assos became a center for learning, attracting prominent scholars from mainland Greece. As was hinted earlier, Aristotle was one of the philosophers who traveled to Assos. Besides studying, Aristotle also found a wife while he was abroad, for he married Hermias’ adopted daughter, Pythias.

Written by C. Keith Hansley

Picture Attribution: (An Exchange of Money from the Psalter manuscript BL Royal 2 B III, f. 51, [Public Domain] via Creative Commons and The British Library).


Mausole is a satrap of Caria who ruled between 377 and 353. He is the most famous member of the Hecatomnid dynasty. A satrap is a governor of the Achaemenid Empire.

Mausole was the son of Hecatomnus, a Carian aristocrat who had obtained in -392 or -391 the satrapy of Caria of the Achaemenid king Artaxerxes II Mnemon. Although Hecatomnus probably had thought of rebellion, he always remained faithful to his king, and there was no reason why Artaxerxes should not allow the son of Hecatomnus to succeed his father. We know almost nothing of the youth of Mausole, although he experienced a xenia with the Spartan king Agesilaus, which meant that they were bound to a mutual hospitality. Probably Agesilaus had visited the young noble Carien when he was waging war in Asia Minor (396-394), but it is also possible that Mausole visited Sparta by himself.

The king Mausole

Statue of King Mausole, British Museum

When Mausole became the only leader of Caria in -377, the Achaemenid Empire was involved in two major conflicts. In the south-west, Egypt had become independent, and Artaxerxes wanted it to return to its empire, and in the north the tribe of the Cadusians had warlike inclinations. This gave great liberty to the satraps of Asia Minor, and several Greek cities feared that the new satrap of Caria might extend his power to the west. During the year of Mausole's accession to power, Athens concluded a new alliance against Sparta, but also against "any person who waged war against a signatory State", a remark which can only refer to " attack of one of the satraps of the Persian empire.

Between -370 and -365 Mausole moved his capital of Carie to Halicarnassus. It must be known that his father had always resided in Mylasa. The city was fortified with modern walls, able to withstand the attacks of recently invented catapults, and it welcomed many new inhabitants. Its most famous building was the tomb that the satrap, as a founder of the Greek city, built himself for himself near the market. This tomb has become one of the seven wonders of the world, the so-called Mausoleum of Halicarnassus.

It is quite probable that Mausole also moved and rebuilt other Greek cities, such as Cnidus, Erythrae, and Priene. In 367, the satrap of Hellespontine Phrygia, Ariobarzane, revolted and a Persian army was sent against him. It was commanded by Mausole and Autophradates de Lydie. They were able to isolate and besiege the rebels in Assos or Adramyttum, but when King Sparta Agesilaus arrived in Asia with a mercenary force (in -365), something strange happened: Agesilaus received money and gifts from his friend who then gave up his seat. Of course, the Spartan army could be dangerous, but it would have been enough to break the siege and go away, there was no need to pay the enemy. Perhaps, Mausole bribed Agesilaus to stay away from Caria, or wanted to create the possibility of hiring Spartan mercenaries in the future, or both. Be that as it may, Mausole briefly joins what the historian Diodorus of Sicily calls the "Satrap Revolt," a name perhaps too important to identify a series of rebellions that have continued for some time without really threatening the stability of the Persian empire. The Ariobarzans of Hellespontine Phrygia, the Dames of Cappadocia, the Mausoleum of Caria, the Orontes of Armenia, and the Autophradates of Lydia have been implicated and have received the support of the Pharaohs of Egypt, Nectanebo I (378 -361), Teos (361-358) and Nectanebo II (358-341).

Map of the Carie

Location of the Carie, actualy in Turkey

Shortly after -360, the order had been restored, and when Artaxerxes III Ochus succeeded his father in the spring of -358, he had nothing to fear from the satraps. He chose to ignore the behavior of Mausole, who had been among the last to join the rebellion and among the first to change sides again. And although Mausole had to accept a Persian garrison at Halicarnassus, he had acted more or less as an independent sovereign and it is not surprising that he was several times called "king" in documentary sources.

And indeed he acted like a sovereign, concluding treaties with cities like Phaselis and Knossus, and designating native Carians in offices hitherto occupied by Iranians. That Mausole considers himself a kind of national chief may perhaps also be deduced from his strict adherence to the ancient cults of his country. Although it is not uncommon for the dynasts of what is now Turkey to sacrifice to the Supreme Persian god Ahuramazda, or venerate the Greek gods, none of these religious beliefs can be attested for Mausole.

In -357 Mausole helped the Athenian allies, who had revolted against their lord. Some of these allies - Chios, Kos, Rhodes and Byzantium - have become federates of Mausole. It is not known why Mausole supported them, but it is possible that King Artaxerxes III Ochus ordered his satrap to incite the Greeks to revolt.

Expansion and Weakening of the Empire

Under Darius the Great, the Achaemenid Empire expanded to 36 satrapies. Darius regularized the tribute system, assigning each satrapy a standard amount according to its economic potential and population.

Despite the controls put in place, as the Achaemenid Empire weakened, the satraps began to exercise more autonomy and local control. Artaxerxes II (r. 404 - 358 BCE), for example, faced what is known as the Revolt of the Satraps between 372 and 382 BCE, with uprisings in Cappadocia (now in Turkey), Phrygia (also in Turkey), and Armenia.

Perhaps most famously, when Alexander the Great of Macedon suddenly died in 323 BCE, his generals divided up his empire into satrapies. They did this to avoid a succession struggle. Since Alexander did not have an heir under the satrapy system, each of the Macedonian or Greek generals would have a territory to rule under the Persian title of "satrap." The Hellenistic satrapies were much smaller than those of the Persian satrapies, however. These Diadochi, or "successors," ruled their satrapies until one by one they fell between 168 and 30 BCE.

When the Persian people threw off Hellenistic rule and unified once more as the Parthian Empire (247 BCE - 224 CE), they retained the satrapy system. In fact, Parthia was originally a satrapy in northeastern Persia, which went on to conquer most of the neighboring satrapies.

The term "satrap" is derived from the Old Persian kshathrapavan, meaning "guardian of the realm." In modern English usage, it can also mean a despotic lesser ruler or a corrupt puppet leader.

Map, Persian Empire, 490 BCE, showing route of Cyrus the Younger, Xenophon and the 10.000. The Department of History, United States Military Academy, via Wikimedia Commons. Public domain.

Herman Vogel, Thálatta! Thálatta! (Greek: Θάλαττα! θάλαττα! “The Sea! The Sea!”), from the Anabasis of Xenophon. Heroic march of the Ten Thousand Greek mercenaries. 19th-century illustration “The Return of the Ten Thousand under Xenophon.” via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

Note: Images have been selected from pictures that are freely available with open source or Creative Commons licenses or from photographs sent in by community members for the purpose. The images in this post are intended to suggest the subject, rather than illustrate exactly—as such, they may be from other periods, subjects, or cultures. Attributions are based where possible by those shown by museums, or on Wikimedia Commons, at the time of publication on this website.

Ian Joseph is a retired finance executive with an interest in ancient Greek history and literature. He received a BA in cultural anthropology from the University of Chicago and an MBA from Pepperdine University.

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For the Argead Empire, all shall be revealed in the next update.

As for the Iranians, the Iranians are not the biggest problem to the Argeads by far. There's a separation beginning to emerge between Western and Eastern Greeks, with the Eastern Greeks having intertwined considerably with Persians to the point where they are almost indistinguishable. This is obviously not true for all of the different Iranian peoples, but the Persians essentially form part of the Empire's aristocracy and have much more power than any of their near relatives.

Yes, the Macedonian homeland will be lost. But this is not so great a problem for the Argeads- Alexander IV never even got to set foot in Macedon. A more pressing issue for them will be the loss of control over the Aegean.



Alexander VII was the first Argead Emperor to have been born into the Alexander Cult. This was of great influence to him as a child, along with his mother. By the time of his birth, the Empire was more than a century old, and it is no coincidence that the quality most associated with this Alexander would be persistence. His mother had certainly endured much on his behalf, resisting political pressure to allow a regent to take over the throne or even for her to marry a suitor. Despite this pressure, he grew up to be a calm and urbane young man, cool under pressure. When roused, however, he was said to be fiery. In addition, he had a predilection for Egyptian sugar and other sweet things, but of all the vices of the Argead Emperors a fondness for exotic fruits is almost not worth mentioning. More would be said about this Emperor’s childhood if we knew more to tell, but he is the only Argead Emperor whose childhood we know much of anything about besides Alexander IV.

Upon reaching his 16th birthday, his mother Eurydice abdicated in his favour. The Romans had derided her as the ‘Queen of Kings’, but she had acquired a high reputation for military success and political strength. It was in her shadow that Alexander then began his reign. He immediately worked towards a single objective the organisation of a campaign against the newly formed Indo-Greek Empire. The most important goal was the recapture of Arachosia, Margiana, Bactria, and the other Eastern satrapies of the Empire. For almost two decades the minor Argead Alexander Indikos had been the de facto King of all these lands, containing some of the Empire’s most precious mineral resources. Had the opponent been a foreign king diplomatic accommodation might have been more likely, but Alexander Indikos was considered a rebel and he could not be tolerated.

The preparations were time consuming, as with any anabasis of the Argead Kings. The navy of Persia was assembled, along with Argead loyalists from the Indus navy. Both were expanded with new warships, built by Greek and Phoenician shipwrights. The timber for this operation alone was apparently enough to leave entire hillsides bare of trees. The military settlers in Mesopotamia were assembled, along with professional contingents of phalangites. Arabian tribes that were bound to the Argeads by alliance were called upon, given their experience with mountainous arid conditions. These preparations took three years to complete, and resulted in an enormous wave of minting across the Empire.

In 202 BC, Alexander was now ready. His forces were divided into three the majority of the navy was to capture the important ports of the coastline with the help of marines another portion of the navy would use the monsoon currents to cross to the Indus delta and capture Alexandria on the Indus, a vital port and major centre of the Indo-Greek Empire the army would march directly into Arachosia, then Margiana, then Bactria. All indications show that Alexander knew this expedition would take multiple years to complete, and he was to be entirely correct.

The army moved into Arachosia and began its work. Resistance was low many of the defenders of the territory had been settled in India, and the decision to secede from the Empire had been taken by the satraps and not necessarily agreed with. Many ethnic groups and cities surrendered as soon as Alexander showed up, in stark contrast to the difficult reconquest of Arachosia of eras past. By the end of the year, much of Arachosia had been recovered. The expedition was timed well, as both Margiana and Arachosia had rebelled against the Indo-Greeks. Even divided they proved a significant challenge, however the Alexandrias of both Margiana and Arachosia were closed to him. By the end of 201 BC, only Alexandria in Aria had surrendered to him of the major cities in the region. His fleets had been more successful, however, and almost the entire coastline up to the Indus delta had been captured.

In 199 BC, Margiana and the rest of Arachosia were back in Argead hands, but it had taken 2 years to besiege the important cities of the region and his men were tired. Alexander now founded new towns and fortresses in the region, settling veterans in the same manner that his ancestors had done. He had not yet been able to bring the war to a conclusion, but some measure of victory had been secured. The majority of the army was sent home, with the promise of fresh troops come 198 BC. The expedition then resumed, and this time the intention was to engage the Indo-Greeks directly. The war then moved into the Indus valley, where the royal army of the Argeads directly met the royal army of the Indo-Greeks. Initially Alexander had great success in defeating the enemy, forcing all Indo-Greek presence beyond the eastern bank of the Indus. But the monsoon season caused the advance to grind to a halt, and no decisive engagement had caused the destruction of Alexander Indikos’ armies. The silver lining on the monsoon clouds was that Alexandria on the Indus had finally been recaptured.

Alexander VII was not a man to push his luck too far. He had recaptured all of the rebellious Argead territory bar Bactria and Sogdiana, and it was prudent to treat his namesake as a successor to the Mauryan Empire rather than drive their Empires apart with a war that could last decades. Accordingly, he came to terms with his nemesis the Treaty of Taxila definitely established the border between the two Empires as the Indus river, with the exception of Alexandria on the Indus which was to remain an Argead possession. Alexander Indikos was recognised as King of India, and the two realms were bound in alliance. In practice, this was an agreement for the two Empires to leave one another alone for the time being. This was treated as a great victory for Alexander VII, and he returned to Babylonia in 197 BC a victorious defender of the Empire. He had been away campaigning for 5 years. He had been intending to launch another campaign into Bactria, but during the struggle with the Indo-Greeks the satrapy had been occupied by Scythian tribes and Alexander lacked the resources to face this level of opposition.

The Argead Emperor was also the High Priest of Alexander, ever since Alexander VI’s reign. Alexander VII took this role somewhat more seriously than his two predecessors, and began the construction of a large temple city upon his return from campaigning. Controversially, this manifested as a refoundation of the ancient city of Uruk. Several other cities in Mesopotamia had petitioned the king for this honour, and Babylon in particular protested they saw this as a relocation of the Empire’s capital. Alexander VII was at first greatly displeased with the Babylonians, and it is alleged that he and the High Priest of Esagila had almost come to blows with one another. This seems to have been mollified by a grand temple reconstruction project in the city, attested to by the Alexander Cylinder. The extant text is here reproduced.

Alexandros, seventh great king of this name,
The almighty king, lord of the four quarters, king of Babylon, king of the world,
The son of Eurydike, great Queen, brother of Alexandros, great Queen, scion of Alexandros great King, scion of Phillipos King of Makedon,
I raised again the mighty temples of loving Bel and Nabu,
I moulded clay,
Gathered from barbarian India where the world ends,
With fine oils I crafted the first brick for the laying of Esagila’s foundation.
In the month of Tišritum, on the eleventh day of the 145th year,
I laid the foundation of Esagila,
Great temple of Marduk the Great Lord, which is in Babylon.
Great Marduk, Guardian of the Four Quarters, Overseer who is good, Shepherd of the Stars,
I am at your command, my triumphs are ordained by your will,
I ask of you that you gift kingship of wisdom and strength,
The full enjoyment of old age to myself,
The memory of the scions of Argos and their deeds to
Live forever in song and scroll.
The inscription in the name of king Cyrus I found and did not alter. I
anointed it with oil, performed a sacrifice, placed it with my own
inscription, and returned it to its place.
As for Nabu the [. ] (extant text ends here)

In addition to the temple complex, Uruk was also granted a new and mighty temple for the benefit of Anu. Uruk had been petitioning the Achaemenid and Argead kings for Anu to dethrone Marduk as the recognised chief god of Mesopotamia for many years, and they saw this gesture as a welcome measure to ensuring this eventuality. This was another reason that Babylon had been so offended by the choice of Uruk. It became clear that Uruk would not have things all its own way, however. A new cadre of priests for Alexander was installed in the city, and the High Priest of Alexander in the city would have equal status with the High Priest of Anu. Few Alexander cultists of the city were included in the new priesthood attached to the temple, only a very few families of tested loyalty were granted this privilege. Uruk would earn significant dividends from the new arrangement, but it had also brought the Argeads right into the city and dissent was to become almost impossible.

The death of Alexander’s mother Eurydike was a hard blow to the Empire and to the Emperor. She had been a well respected monarch in her own right, and a faithful ward to her son. 194 BC was a watershed year for Alexander VII, his behaviour as a monarch significantly altered after this. Rather than launching a single massive campaign, he spend the next seven campaign seasons in different theatres of the Empire he defeated an incursion of Arabian tribes into the Sealands, he displaced a pirate infestation in the Black Sea, he fought back an attempted Scythian invasion of Colchis. This period too came to an end in 186 BC, when construction of the Uruk temple complex was completed. His last act as King was the consecration of the city, as he then abdicated in favour of his son Cyrus. His estate was alleged to have been in Persia, surrounded by a magnificent garden to rival that of the Achaemenid kings.

Before moving on, it is worth discussing his choice of name for his son and successor. By calling his son Cyrus, he was doing two things he was signalling the removal of that name as a bogeyman in Greek identity, but he was also signalling the degree to which the two identities had become inseparable. The Iranian foundations of the Alexander Cult’s officialized form show that Alexander VI’s generation were already highly Persified, and from inscriptions we know that the Persians were now highly Hellenised. A generation had gone by and this fusion had only strengthened. By choosing to name the monarch of a Greek-identifying dynasty Cyrus, this situation was now openly acknowledged if not universally accepted. A consequence of this action was that fault lines were now being opened up between different interpretations of Greek identity. The Greeks of the East had accepted Persian influences over time, intermarried with them, and worshipped at Iranian sites as frequently as at Hellenic ones. The Greeks of the West remained staunchly opposed to this idea of ‘Greekness’, in particular the Greeks of Macedon and of the Hellenic League. Macedon was about the only area left with an actual Macedonian identity elsewhere, Macedonians and other Greek ethnic groups had become indistinguishable. Macedon was now inexorably drifting apart from the Argead Empire, for the Argeads were now almost strangers in their own homeland. The Hellenic League had developed a healthy respect for the Argead monarchs themselves, but they had always steadfastly rejected Argead cultural trends like the Alexander cult and Iranian divinities. The simple act of naming a child now hastened the division that was to emerge. ​





[Generally speaking, all of the updates have been from the POV of the timeline and through a 'historical lens', but for an additional bit of interest I'm reproducing two private letters that wouldn't have survived into later periods. These letters are both involving 'Celtic' kings, but are written in Greek this is considered the international language of diplomacy even as far as Gaul.]

The Argeads of Asia had always claimed to be legitimate successors to the Achaemenid Empire, both through their virtues and marriage into the previous regime. Cyrus was thus consistently referred to as the ‘third of his name’, acknowledging the two Achaemenid kings of that name as being of equal level to the Argead Emperors. If we are to believe that Alexander genuinely sought a union of Macedonians and Persians, then Cyrus was this dream made flesh. Rather than being a throwback to the past, as Emperor this divisive young man looked to the future.

His father, Alexander VII, had done much to strengthen the Alexander cult’s organisational structure. Cyrus continued this by creating the first official hierarchy of the Empire’s many High Priests of Alexander, with the Argead Emperor at the very top of this pyramid. The most important official in the religion was the Emperor, as the High Priest of Alexander at Babylon and the claimant to the daimon of Alexander. Other important officials now included the High Priests of Uruk, Susa, Damascus and Adana. As of yet, they did not hold any influence over secular affairs the priests of the Alexander cult with the exception of the Emperor were required to abstain from roles in governance and magistracies.

Cyrus did reach back to his Achaemenid legacy for one significant reform, however he reconstituted the Immortals as a fighting unit. These had rather more in common with the Hellenistic hypaspistai than the original Immortals, and replaced the former’s role in the royal army, but the symbolism of their name was key. Their shields were reputed to bear the image of an apple encircled by Ophion, the primordial serpent. Many scholars have become obsessed by the deep symbolism of these soldiers, and neglect to look at the pragmatic value that was had in their creation the hypaspistai had for some time lagged behind developments in warfare and needed a thorough updating for the modern era. They thoroughly reflected their times Greek speaking soldiers armed heavy infantry style steeped in Persian symbolism.

The seven years of Cyrus’ reign are categorised as the last great period of peace that the Argead Empire experienced no enemy had yet emerged to challenge them, Ptolemaic Egypt remained friendly, no satraps rebelled against the King’s authority. In the realm of foreign affairs, he worked tirelessly he maintained alliances with the Epirote kingdom and attempted to repair the connection with Rome by providing them with shipments of foodstuffs in the wake of the Social War. Relations with the Indo-Greeks remained cool, but did not escalate into war and the dynamic between the two states was becoming less fraught.

The times of Cyrus seemed hopeful his first campaign was against the Scythians gathering on the eastern border, and it seemed as though the Scythians might remain pacified for a significant time afterwards as the campaign was successful. Fate it seems has a cruel streak in 179 BC, only seven years after Cyrus’ reign began, he contracted malaria. His eldest son, Archelaus, was not yet a man. Cyrus was at least able to directly state Archelaus as his heir, and provide for an official regency. But his death came, and his untimely demise signalled the end to the Peace of the Argeads for better and worse, war was about to return to the Eastern Mediterranean. It began the very year that he died, when the Kingdom of Macedon declared itself independent of the Argead Empire.


Somewhat symbolic it seems that the Argead Emperor who seemed more Persian than Macedonian would be the last to rule Macedon.

And an interesting tidbit about Gallic relations.


Ever since the death of Alexander the Great, there had been an unwritten rule of the Argead monarchy members of the previous generation did not interfere with court politics once a new King had been appointed. This was essentially enforced with voluntary exile. However, this rule may have first been broken at this time Alexander VII had abdicated as King, and was no longer holder of the daimon of Alexander. However, he was still alive at the time of his son’s untimely death. His grandson’s official regent was the eunuch Parwin, but the situation in the Empire was suddenly unstable and volatile. The tradition that Alexander came out of his seclusion to help his grandson is only passed down from one chronicle, and may be considered dubious for this reason. But after this period, the political relationship between the Argead Emperor and his close relatives is observably different, and it seems possible that the re-inclusion of Alexander in the state’s governance set a precedent. If this did occur, the Argeads certainly kept this notion well hidden Alexander VII did not reappear in any official iconography of the Empire, including coin issues, until after his actual death in the 160s.

The revolt in Macedonia did not go unanswered loyalist forces in Macedon resisted the initial coup, and then were able to retreat across the Epirote border after their defeat where they were given refuge. But the Empire was in significant trouble when Alexander IV had inherited the throne during his childhood, he had been surrounded by the companions of Alexander who were in themselves effective generals and leaders. But in the period since then, the state had steadily become more reliant upon the energy and acumen of the Emperor to provide military strategy. The descendants of the generals had become satraps, priests, and landowners, no longer quasi kings as their forefathers had been. This had only become more the case since Alexander VI had made the monarch the spiritual leader of the Empire as well. Parwin was reputed to be extremely competent, but he could not be be the Emperor.

The Aegean fleet of the Argeads responded to the revolt, but in 178 BC the fleet was ambushed and destroyed by a Macedonian fleet inflated with mercenaries from several Greek city states. This was not followed up by the royal army, and this then caused the revolt to escalate. Anatolian satraps across the entire region began to declare independence as well, and the Cilician gates were closed. However, some control was restored by the defeat of an attempted Armenian revolt, and the reoccupation of the Cilician gates in 176 BC. Archelaus was still a ‘boy’ of fifteen when he began properly exercising his rule in 175 BC, but he was desperately needed.

He first gained success by recapturing the entirety of Cilicia from the rebels in an energetic campaign. In that year he also recaptured the coast of Pontus, and large parts of Cappadocia. The next year the coast of Lycia was also recovered. However, this gain was only temporary and it was reoccupied by the rebellious state of Halikarnassos. The key issue was that the naval forces of the various rebellious satrapies were acting in concert and were a match for the Argead naval forces that could be mustered. In addition, not enough forces could be brought to bear without dangerously reducing security in other volatile satrapies and along the Empire’s borders. Egypt could not be persuaded to intervene, or the Hellenic League. The conflict was attracting enough of the Empire’s resources for very little gain that continued warfare seemed of little use. Anatolia was a valuable possession, and not let go lightly Archelaus campaigned for another two years before bowing to the inevitable and negotiating. However, in their giddy fever at having broken away from the Argead Empire the rebels made a fatal mistake in allowing Archelaus’ version of the treaty to be ratified he recognised the Kingships of certain states, including Macedon, but he had failed to attach recognition to individuals or dynasties. The alliance between the Anatolian states and Macedon quickly broke down, and by the beginning of the 160s BC most of them were in open conflict. Several kingdoms rose and fell in this period, and dynasties quickly transitioned. This should have been the opportunity that Archelaus sought, but he was unable to press his advantage due to an even more serious matter.

The new monarch of the Indo-Greek Empire chose to abandon the peace his father had created with the Argeads, seeking to regain both the entirety of the Indus region and the fertile Swat valley. He launched the war in 168 BC, and this was a much larger threat than the squabbles of Anatolia because it threatened Argead control over the Iranian plateau. An anabasis was duly launched to meet this incursion later that same year. The two forces met openly in the field at Alexandria in Arachosia, meeting the Indo-Greek Emperor as he attempted to besiege the city. The battle was particularly bloody, but the Argeads had the advantage of numbers and the Indo-Greeks had been fighting Indian-style armies that fought quite differently to modern Hellenistic opponents. By 166 BC, the first Indo-Greek campaign had been decisively repelled. This was followed up in 165 BC with occupations along the Indo-Greek side of the Indus river, and in the north as far as the important city of Taxila.

Undeterred, the Indo-Greek Emperor launched a new assault in 164 BC. The Argeads withdrew from several cities, taking as booty not just gold and jewels but intellectuals and artisans. The Indo-Greek armies were able to besiege and recover many of these cities, but this took time, money and manpower that bogged down the campaign. By 162 BC, the borders were almost exactly the same as they had been six years ago and the failure to prosecute the campaign had greatly destabilised the Indo-Greek Empire. A white peace was drawn up, and Archelaus’ prestige was greatly enhanced. During the campaign, he had been able to bring more of the Black Sea Greek colonies into the Argead sphere of influence by careful diplomacy. Upon his return to Mesopotamia, he was also able to negotiate a new treaty of friendship with Epirus.

However, the Western Mediterranean was about to become completely destabilised in 161 BC, the Barcid Empire launched the Third Punic War against the Roman Republic and its allies. The Mediterranean sea from the Pillars of Hercules to the Adriatic swiftly became a war zone. This conflict was in itself a consequence of the Argeads neglecting the Western Mediterranean for the past century. The Argeads did ‘lend’ the Epirotes ships and crews, but this was as far as their intervention went, because from the Argead point of view this was far from their biggest priority.

Not for the last time, a great migration was occurring across Eurasia. Many Scythian tribes who had resided in Central Asia were now moving west, north of the Caspian sea. Some, however, moved south the previous dynasty of Scytho-Greek Bactria was toppled and replaced by the newer Scythian arrivals. More pressingly for the Argeads, Scythians were also moving across their borders in Parthia and Margiana. This required immediate attention. Some of the tribes that had moved across the border responded to diplomacy, and were incorporated by the Argeads as military settlers. But a large number of tribes either didn’t trust the Argeads or wanted to retain sovereignty. The occupation of the Iranian Plateau would be disastrous for the security of the core regions of the Empire.

The Scythian Wars lasted for ten long years. Each year an anabasis was launched by Archelaus, and minting increased to unprecedented levels. Notable victories of this period included the complete destruction of a Scythian army that ravaged Media, the submission of the Dahae and the capture of ten Scythian kings at the Battle of Rhagae. But even with all of these victories several satrapies became permanently lost to the Argeads Parthia and Arachosia were overrun, and communication with the Indus satrapies became extremely difficult.

This large period of war had also left the Argeads unable to deal with the increasing instability around their other borders the independent kingdom of Macedon had been partitioned between the Hellenic League and Epirus, and the Hellenic League was now the master of the Aegean sea. Relations with the Ptolemies also degenerated badly in this period, as they began to influence and support the remaining independent Anatolian kingdoms. After such strife for such a long period, the Argeads were unable to prevent the Indus satrapies declaring independence from the Empire. By 149 BC, the Argead Empire only controlled a small number of territories east of the Zagros mountains. All was not lost the Empire’s core territories remained secure, the Scythians had begun fighting amongst themselves, and the Ptolemies remained under thumb. Archelaus does not have the glorious reputation of many of his ancestors, nonetheless he stemmed the tide and preserved the Empire from collapse just yet. But the Argead Empire was bleeding from many wounds, and had lost more than a little territory. Nine of years of peace followed, and one would have been forgiven for thinking that the Argeads were already dead as an Empire. The first of the Late Argeads, Alexander VIII, is the proof that the Argead Empire still had life.

CHAPTER XXXV - Ionic Revolt

H itherto the history of the Asiatic Greeks has flowed in a stream distinct from that of the European Greeks. The present chapter will mark the period of confluence between the two.

At the time when Darius quitted Sardis on his return to Susa, carrying with him the Milesian Histiæus, he left Artaphernês his brother as satrap of Sardis, invested with the supreme command of Western Asia Minor. The Grecian cities on the coast, comprehended under his satrapy, appear to have been chiefly governed by native despots in each and Milêtus especially, in the absence of Histiæus, was ruled by his son-in-law Aristagoras. That city was now in the height of power and prosperity—in every respect the leading city of Ionia. The return of Darius to Susa may be placed seemingly about 512 b.c. , from which time forward the state of things above described continued, without disturbance, for eight or ten years—“ a respite from suffering,” to use the significant phrase of the historian.

It was about the year 506 b.c. that the exiled Athenian despot Hippias, after having been repelled from Sparta by the unanimous refusal of the Lacedæmonian allies to take part in his cause, presented himself from Sigeium as a petitioner to Artaphernês at Sardis.

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Datames, the satrap of Cappadocia and a talented military commander, had inherited his satrapy from his father Camissares after 384 BC but later problems with the court led him to revolt in 372 BC. The court commanded the neighboring satraps, Autophradates of Lydia and Artumpara of Lycia, to crush the rebellion but Datames successfully resisted their attacks. Ώ]

Datames was killed in 362 BC after his son in law Mitrobarzanes betrayed him, falsely claiming to be his ally against the Achaemenid king. Ώ]

Major Events

The Persians launched two major invasions against Greece: in 490 under Darius and in 483 under Xerxes. Both expeditions ended in disaster, though it is important to remember that the major source for these events, the historian Herodotus (c. 484–c. 429 BC), was a Greek himself and thus inclined to believe the worst of the invaders and to overstate the moral and tactical superiority of the defenders. It should also be noted that many Greek cities joined the Persians either voluntarily or under compulsion. Darius’s expedition ended at Marathon, where a badly outnumbered force of Athenians and Plataeans drove the invaders out of Attica (the region surrounding the cities of Athens and Plataea) and soon out of Greece altogether. Ten years later, an allied force led by Athens and Sparta nearly stopped the Persian advance at a mountain pass called Thermopylae. Forced to evacuate their city, the Athenians withdrew to the nearby island of Salamis, where their navy trapped and destroyed the Persian fleet. Xerxes sailed immediately back to Asia Minor. The Persian land forces remained in Greece until the following spring, when they were defeated decisively at Plataea.


Pharnabazus, Satrap of Phrygia (fl. 413 – 373 BCE), son of Pharnaces of Phrygia, is indicated to have shared his rule and territories with his brothers in the late 5th century BCE when Pharnabazos had recently succeeded to the position. Mithradates, Satrap of Cappadocia, might have been one of such brothers. Ariobarzanes of Cius might have also been one of those brothers.

The classical source Appianus relates that Ariobarzanes was of a cadet line of the family of the Persian Great King Dareios (Darius the Great).

It is highly probable he is the same Ariobarzanes who, around 407 BCE, was the Persian envoy to the Greek city-states and cultivated the friendship of Athens and Sparta. Ariobarzanes conducted the Athenian ambassadors, in 405 BCE, to his sea-town of Cius in Mysia, after they had been detained three years by order of Cyrus the Younger. [2]

Ariobarzanes was mentioned as under-satrap in Anatolia in late 5th century BCE. He then apparently succeeded his presumed kinsman (possibly elder brother) Pharnabazus (fl. 413 – 373 BCE) as satrap of Phrygia and Lydia, assigned by Pharnabazos himself when he departed to the Persian court to marry Apama, daughter of the Persian king. Thus Ariobarzanes became the satrap of Hellespontine Phrygia, in what is now the northwest of Turkey. Pharnabazos lived well into the 370s BCE, having obtained higher positions in the Persian monarchy than merely the Phrygian satrapship.

Ariobarzanes assisted Antalcidas in 388 BCE. [3]

He appears to have still held some high office in the Persian court in 368 BCE, as we find him, apparently on behalf of the king, sending an embassy led by Philiscus of Abydos to Greece in that year. [4] Both Philiscus and Ariobarzanes, as well as three of his sons, were made citizens of Athens, a remarkable honor suggesting important services rendered to the city-state. [5]

Ariobarzanes, who is called by Diodorus [6] satrap of Phrygia, and by Nepos [7] satrap of Lydia, Ionia, and Phrygia, revolted against Artaxerxes II in 362. Demosthenes speaks of Ariobarzanes and his three sons having been lately made Athenian citizens. [8] He mentions him again [9] in the following year and says, that the Athenians had sent Timotheus to his assistance but that when the Athenian general saw that Ariobarzanes was in open revolt against the king, he refused to assist him.

When Pharnabazos' other son, Artabazos II of Phrygia, wanted to regain the satrapy from his brother, Ariobarzanes refused. Ultimately, in about 366 BCE, Ariobarzanes joined an unsuccessful revolt of the satraps of western Anatolia against the Achamenian King Artaxerxes II (Revolt of the Satraps). Several other satraps sided with Ariobarzanes, including Mausolus of Caria (briefly), Orontes I of Armenia, Autophradates of Lydia and Datames of Cappadocia. The rebel satraps also received support from the pharaoh of Egypt, Teos, as well as from some of the Greek city states, with the Spartan king Agesilaus II coming to their assistance with a mercenary force.

Ariobarzanes withstood a siege at Adramyttium in 366 BC, from Mausolus of Caria and Autophradates of Lydia, until Agesilaus negotiated the besiegers' retreat. [10]

Ariobarzanes was betrayed by his son Mithridates to his overlord, the Persian king, [11] who had Ariobarzanes crucified. [12] [13]