king of Persia
, son of Artaxerxes II
, Queen of Persia.
Died 338 BC
Artaxerxes III was originally named Ochus and ascended to the throne in 358 BC by killing off his older brother and his family just days before Artaxerxes II died. Artaxerxes III primary goal was to re-assert the will of Persia and let no man, commoner or noble, say otherwise. In 356, he ordered all satraps to dismiss their mercenaries to have them replaced with standard Persian military. The next year he used intimidation to force Athens to make peace with their rebellious states and declared them autonomous.
In 351, Artaxerxes led a campaign against Egypt, which had been independent since the start of his father's reign. This met with horrible failure and Artaxerxes returned home with little more than his injured pride. He spent the next decade or so building up his army and navy. The Persian army took the Phoenician city of Sidon with the help of Mentor of Rhodes in 345 and from there mounted a second invasion of Egypt two years later.
Artaxerxes brought an incredible force on land and sea and defeated Netanebo II at Pelusium on the Nile River delta. A Persian satrap was installed and Artaxerxes assumed the title of Pharaoh of Egypt. Temples were looted, militias were disbanded, and city walls were torn down. It is said that in a temple to Ptah, Artaxerxes killed the sacred Apis bull with his bare hands.
Upon returning to Susa, Artaxerxes placed his most trusted minister and advisor, Bagoas, in charge of the upper satrapies and Mentor of Rhodes in charge of the western portion of the kingdom. In 340, Artaxerxes drew the ire of Philip of Macedon when he sent aid to Perinthus and Byzantium during Philip's military campaign. This matter would remain in the air for a few years and come down on the head of Artaxerxes' son.
At this point in his rule, Artaxerxes did nothing without the advice of Bagoas, who had become good friends with Mentor after the fall of Sidon. The two had schemed to overthrow Artaxerxes and in 338, Bagoas poisoned Artaxerxes III and his oldest sons, leaving the youngest, Arses, to take the throne.
Sources: Encyclopedia Britannica, bartleby.com
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