Artoxares

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Artoxares (/ˌɑrtəˈzɛrz/; Old Persian *Artaxšara) (c. 465 BC - after 419 BC) was a Paphlagonian eunuch, who played a central role during the reigns of Artaxerxes I and Darius II of Persia.

According to Ctesias, when he was twenty years old, he participated in an embassy to the rebel satrap Megabyzus. King Artaxerxes I and the rebel reconciled c. 445 BC. Nevertheless, Megabyzus fell again in disgrace and was exiled to a Persian Gulf town. Artoxares, who had helped Megabyzus to get the favour of the king, was expelled from the court to Armenia. It has been argued that he actually was appointed to the charge of satrap of Armenia, but it is not explicitly stated by Ctesias.

When Artaxerxes died (424 BC), his sons Xerxes II, Sogdianus and Darius II Ochus started a civil war. As well as Arbarius, cavalry commander, and Arsames, satrap of Egypt, Artoxares followed Darius. When Darius defeated his brothers, Artoxares became one of the most powerful members of the court. Nevertheless, after a short time he plotted against the new king, and was executed by the order of queen Parysatis. Artoxares' plot took place just after the revolts of Arsites and Artyphius, and of the satrap Pissuthnes.

From the Murashu family archives from Nippur, we know a certain Artahshar (Artahŝar), who has been identified with the Artoxares of the classical sources. According to this archives, the domains of Manuštånu (identified with Menostanes, a follower of Sogdianus) passed to Artahŝar after Darius' coronation.

Artoxares could have inspired the Greek playwright Aristophanes for the Plaphagonian character in his play The Knights.

References[edit]

  • Bowie, Aristophanes: Myth, Ritual and Comedy (1995 [1993]), Cambridge U. Press.
  • Clay, A.: The Babylonian Expedition of the University of Pennsylvania. Series A: Cuneiform Texts vol. X, Business Documents of the Marashu Sons of Nippur (1904). [1]
  • Dandamayev, M.: "Artoxares", in the Encyclopaedia Iranica
  • Lendering, J.: "Xerxes II and Sogdianus", in http://www.livius.org.