Artaxerxes Mnemon II, Achaemenid king of Persia, son of Darius II.
Born 452 BC, Died 358 BC

Artaxerxes, originally named Arsicas, took his throne and name in 404 BC soon after the Peloponnesian war. The power of Athens was broken and the Greek lands in Ionia were again under the rule of Persia. Artaxerxes' reign started with immediate trouble as Egypt rebelled from the Persian empire and his brother, Cyrus the Younger, satrap of Lydia, made plans for a rebellion. Cyrus was killed in 401 at the hand of Artaxerxes himself and the rebellion was suppressed but its effects had already reached far and wide. The Greeks believed Persia to be vulnerable after this brief internal conflict. Sparta broke away from the Persians and its armies had a very successful campaign throughout Anatolia over the next 5 years (see Corinthian War).

In 394, the Spartan navy was obliterated at Cnidus with the assistance of a Persian-funded Athenian force, giving Artaxerxes control of the Aegean Sea. Thebes, Athens, Argos, and Corinth were still allied with Persia and continued the war against Sparta. Artaxerxes could see, as the war dragged on, that only Athens would gain from the victory and so decided to make peace with Sparta. The King's Peace, or Peace of Antalcidas, was declared in 386. Artaxerxes decreed that the Asiatic mainland and Cyprus would be his, the Athenians would give up all conquests except Lemnos, Imbros, and Scyros, and all other Greek states would be autonomous.

With that situation seemingly cleared up, Artaxerxes led two campaigns to reclaim Egypt, one from 385-383 and one in 374. Although armed with three hundred thousand men, they were ill equipped for the overland travel through the desolate Egyptian desert. Both excursions met with failure and Artaxerxes was forced to spread his forces to deal with continuous unrest in Anatolia as well as occasional battles against the mountain tribes of Armenia and Iran. During the years after the King's Peace, Persia became arbiters of Greece and settled various disputes between the independent states.

An old alliance with Thebes was reformed in 371 as relations with the Greeks began to sour. Many began to realize that the rule of Persia was not based upon its might but on the internal conflicts of the Greeks themselves. A rebellion of the satraps (governors) of Anatolia began simmering in 366. They were backed by Athens, Sparta and Egypt, but were unable to get over their mutual distrust and thus, fell to the Persians when the movement started about 4 years later.

Artaxerxes then focused on his homelands and renovated various cities and temples. In particular, many statues of goddesses were erected. It is believed that up until that time, the Persians did not worship images of gods. They had paid homage primarily to Ahura Mazda, but Artaxerxes popularized the worship of Anahita and Mithra, previously Iranian goddesses.

The remainder of Artaxerxes' rule was relatively quiet with the exception of dealing with the discord of his potential heirs. Artaxerxes planned to pass the crown to his eldest son Darius by right of age and gave right to rule to his heir apparent. All went smoothly until Darius requested Artaxerxes' most favored concubine and Artaxerxes, who was not quick to anger, found Darius' behavior increasingly impetuous. Eventually, Artaxerxes offered the crown to his youngest son, Ochus, causing much hostility between them. Ochus, however, did not accept immediately. Being torn between being a free citizen and perhaps a general under Darius' rule or losing his freedom while gaining a kingdom. Darius frustration grew until, under the advice of his friend, he formed a plot kill Artaxerxes and Ochus. The king heard of the conspiracy and secretly had a hidden door installed behind his bed. His informant had given him the very date and time that the assassins intended to strike. At the appointed time, Artaxerxes was wide-awake when the would-be murderers, Darius' friend among them, entered, Artaxerxes made good his escape. The royal guard quickly slew the conspirators and Darius was brought to trial, convicted, and executed rather expediently. Ochus gained confidence but now only feared the machinations of Ariaspes, now the oldest and well liked by the people, and Arsames, Ariaspes' son. Ochus used the king's servants to relate rumors to Ariaspes that the king plotted to have him killed. Eventually, this distressed Ariaspes to the point of suicide. Ariaspes died in a horrible fit of convulsions from poison in his own bed. Artaxerxes was saddened by the loss of another son and showed began to show Arsames much attention. When Artaxerxes was on his deathbed, Ochus killed Arsames with his own hands and upon hearing of this, Artaxerxes was crushed with grief and died at the age of ninety-four.

Artaxerxes was thus succeeded by his son Ochus, who became Artaxerxes III and outdid all his predecessors in bloodthirstiness and cruelty.

Sources: Encyclopedia Britannica, encyclopedia.com, and about.com.
Some sources gave conflicting dates, I have done my best to properly intepret this information. If you feel my chronology is incorrect, please /msg me

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