Achaemenid Dynasty Rulers: Artaxerxes III to Darius III

Many of the rulers of the Achaemenid Dynasty faced betrayal, attempts on their life, and misguidance. In this article, you will learn how some of the kings of the Persian Empire came into power, such as Artaxerxes III and Darius III.

Artaxerxes III (Ochus) [359-338 BC] , As the son of Artaxerxes II, Artaxerxes III was the successor of his father, and ruled during the same time as Philip II of Macedon and Nectabebo II of Egypt. Before he took to the throne, he was a satrap and commander of his father’s army. Before he was named successor, it seemed that Artaxerxes had a long time to wait before he could rule the empire. However, one of his brothers was executed. Another took his own life. The last brother was murdered. So when his father died at the age of 86, Artaxerxes was the next in line because he was simply the only son left.

Soon after becoming king, Artaxerxes III went about securing his position. He started by murdering all of the royal family so that no one in his bloodline could oppose his rule. His next move was to initiate two major campaigns against Egypt. The first efforts were a failure. To make matters worse, rebellion throughout the western empire started to erupt. However, in 343 BC, Artaxerxes was successful in defeating Nectanebo II, who was the Pharaoh of Egypt. He drove the ruler out of his country and stopped a revolt in Phoenicia around the same time. The end for Artaxerxes came in 338 BC when Bagoas (a powerful vizier in Persia who fell out of favor with Artzxerxes) used the help of a doctor to poison the king.

Artaxerxes IV (Arses) [338-336 BC] , As the youngest son of Artaxerxes III, the fourth in line was not expected to rule Persia. Despite his father being murdered and most of his family extinguished by Bagoas, he still unexpectedly ascended to power in 338 BC. Bagoas played a role in helping the son reach the throne, as he believed he’d be easier to control. Arses served as a puppet during his two years of ruling Persia with Bagoas pulling the strings. Little did Bagoas know that the king was not pleased with the state of affairs.

With the possible help of nobles of the Royal Court, Arses began planning out the murder of Bagoas. Before he could realize his plans, Arses was poisoned. Bagoas went about established a cousin of Arses to the throne , King Darius III.

Darius III [336-330 BC] , Darius  (also known as Codomannus) came to power in the midst of restless western borders. In Macedonia, King Philip II and Alexander the Great became great opposition for Persia. Eventually, the two states started warring. After ruling from 336 BC to 330 BC, Darius III was the last king of the Achaemenid Empire.