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Achaemenid Dynasty Rulers: Xerxes & More

While Darius was responsible for significant reforms that took place within the Persian Empire, he was not the only ruler responsible for progress. In this article, you are introduced to Xerxes , the son of Darius, as well as other rulers associated with the Persian Empire.

Under the Rule of Xerxes

As the grandson of Cyrus and the son of Darius, Xerxes was destined to rule over the empire as king. While he was not the first-born son of his father, he was the first son of Darius’ wife Atossa, who was the daughter of Cyrus. This lineage placed him in the succession to become king.

One of the achievements of Xerxes was stopping a revolt that brewed in Egypt. Other highlights during his rule included fighting against the Greeks in the Persian Wars, claiming a victory at Thermopylae, and experiencing a defeat at Salamis.

Following Xerxes’ rule, the following kings took the throne of the Persian Empire:

Artaxerxes I [465-424 BC] , the son of Xerxes I and Amestris, daughter of Otanes. When Artaxerxes I assumed power, he brought to the people a new Persian strategy that successfully weakened the Athenians. He made it a point to fund the Athenian’s enemies located in Greece. Because of this, the Athenians were forced to react. Artaxerxes had indirectly caused the Athenians to shift the treasury of the Delian League from the island of Delos to the Athenian acropolis.

Xerxes II [424-423 BC] , As the son of Artaxerxes I, Xerxes II became the successor to the throne after his father. However, he only ruled over the empire for 45 days. He was assassinated in 424 BC by his own brother Sogdianus, who did, not get a chance to reap any benefits from the act. Darius II, who became the next king killed Sogdianus.  

Darius II (Ochus) [423-404 BC] , Darius II was the illegitimate brother of Sogdianus and held the position of satrap of Hyrcania. Before he rebelled against Sogdianus, he was called Ochus. A fight broke out between the two and Ochus was the victor. Soon after, he adopted the name of Darius. Not much is known about his reign, which is surprising since he was king for 19 years.

Artaxerxes II (Arsaces) [404-359 BC] , As the son of Darius II of Persia and Parysatis, Artaxerxes II had to fight for his position against his brother Cyrus the Younger. When Cyrus was defeated and killed by Mithridates at the Battle of Cunaxa in 401 BC, Artaxerxes was able to assume the throne , ruling from 404 BC until his death. As king, he put an end to a revolt led by the provincial governors (satraps). During his reign, Artaxerxes also became a part of a war with a former ally of Persia , the Spartans.

To distract the Spartans, Artaxerxes decided to shed a light on the Greeks, so he supported their enemies in an attempt to send the Spartans in the direction of the Athenians, Thebans and Corinthians. The battles that followed were called the Corinthian War. It didn’t take Artaxerxes long to make another move to protect his power. He betrayed his allies in 386 BC and made an arrangement with Sparta. The Treaty of Antalcidas also affected Persia’s former allies. In the treaty, control of the Greek cities of Aeolis and Ionia went back to the Persians, while Sparta was allowed to take over the Greek mainland.