Arcesilaus III of Cyrene

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This article is about sixth Greek king of Cyrenaica. For other uses, see Arcesilaus (disambiguation).

Arcesilaus III of Cyrene or Arcesilaus III (Greek: ο Αρκεσίλαος, flourished 6th century BC) was the sixth Greek Cyrenaean King and was a member of the Battiad dynasty.


Arcesilaus was the son of the fifth Cyrenaean King Battus III and Cyrenaean Queen Pheretima. His sister was the Cyrenaean Princess Ladice who married the Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Amasis II. Although his maternal grandparents are unknown, his paternal grandparents were the Cyrenaean Queen Eryxo and Cyrenaean King Arcesilaus II

Persian Alliance[edit]

When his father died in 530 BC, Arcesilaus became the new king. In 525 BC, Arcesilaus made an alliance with the King Cambyses II of Persia and they became friends. Cambyses had recently conquered Egypt and adding the country to his empire.

Civil Strife and Flight[edit]

Herodotus describes his character as a ‘great rumpus‘. About 518 BC, Arcesilaus could no longer accept the Cyrenaean constitution changes introduced by his late father and Demonax and demanded the restoration of his ancestral rights. He was supported by his mother. After civil struggles that followed, Arcesilaus was defeated and fled to the Greek island of Samos, while his mother fled to the court of Greek King Euelthon in Salamis, Cyprus seeking troops from the king, which the king refused to do.

Delphic Divination[edit]

Arcesilaus was in Samos recruiting men for his army, in return promising the men to grant them land in Cyrenaica. Once he got his army together, he travelled to the oracle at Delphi to consult about his future in Cyrene. The priestess stated to him, that you will have a kingship in Cyrene for eight generations under four rulers named Battus and four rulers named Arcesilaus. She advised him to have no attempt to keep power beyond that period. She also advised him to be careful how to treat the Cyrenaean citizens and if he is cruel to them, they will go against him. Arcesilaus ignored this advice from the priestess.


Arcesilaus returned to Cyrenaica with his army and regained his power. He had driven his political opponents out of Cyrene into exile. His supporters received their land, however out of fear of a back lash (also ignoring the oracle’s advice), Arcesilaus left Cyrene and went to the Cyrenaean town of Barca.


While in the market place in Barca with his father-in-law, some Cyrenaean exiles recognised him. The Cyrenaean exiles went up to the two men and killed them. His father-in-law, was a Libyan man called Alazir, who was the governor of Barca. Herodotus states that Arcesilaus was related to Alazir. Arcesilaus married his daughter (whose name is unknown) and they had a son and only child called Battus IV. Battus IV became king in late 515 BC after Pheretima died in Egypt who ruled Cyrenaica for a while. Arcesilaus was buried near his paternal ancestors in Cyrene.

See also[edit]


Arcesilaus III of Cyrene
Battiad Dynasty
Died: 515 BC
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Battus III
King of Cyrene
530 BC – 515 BC
Succeeded by
Battus IV