Arcesilaus III of Cyrene
Arcesilaus was the son of the fifth Cyrenaean King, Battus III and queen Pheretima. His sister was Ladice, who married the Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Amasis II. Although his maternal grandparents are unknown, his paternal grandparents were the queen Eryxo and king Arcesilaus II.
First reign and exile
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 added the country to his empire.
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 king Euelthon in Salamis, Cyprus. Pheretima sought troops from the king, but he refused to comply.
In Samos, Arcesilaus recruited men for his army by promising 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 his family would have a kingship in Cyrene for eight generations under four rulers named Battus and four rulers named Arcesilaus. She advised him to make no attempt to keep power beyond that period. She also advised him to be careful in how he treated the Cyrenaean citizens and that if he were cruel to them, they would go against him. Arcesilaus ignored this advice from the priestess.
Restoration and death
Arcesilaus returned to Cyrenaica with his army and regained his power, driving his political opponents out of Cyrene into exile. His supporters received their land, but out of fear of a backlash (also ignoring the oracle’s advice), Arcesilaus left Cyrene and went to the Cyrenaean town of Barca, whose governor was his father-in-law, a Libyan man called Alazir.
While in the market place in Barca with his father-in-law, some Cyrenaean exiles recognised him. The exiles went up to the two men and killed them. Arcesilaus was buried near his paternal ancestors in Cyrene. Arcesilaus was succeeded by his mother, who ruled Cyrenaica until her death in late 515 BC, and after that by his only son, Battus IV.
- Herodotus, The Histories, Book 4.
Arcesilaus III of Cyrene
Battiad DynastyDied: 515 BC
|King of Cyrene
530 BC – 515 BC