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Inaros (II), also known as Inarus, (fl. ca. 460 BC) was an Egyptian rebel ruler who was the son of a Libyan prince named Psamtik, presumably of the old Saite line. In 460 BC, he revolted against the Persians with the help of his Athenian allies, and defeated the Persian army commanded by satrap Achaemenes. The Persians retreated to Memphis, but the Athenians were finally defeated in 454 BC by the Persian army led by Megabyzus after a two-year siege. Inaros was captured and carried away to Susa where he was reportedly crucified in 454 BC.
Revolt and aftermath
He held a kingship over the Libyans from Mareia (above Pharos) and the part of the Nile Delta around Sais. With help from Amyrtaeus, also from Sais, who took the northern marshes, Inarus drove out the tax-collectors and collected mercenaries, thus starting a revolt in Egypt during the reign of King Artaxerxes I of Persia after the assassination of king Xerxes I. The Athenian allies from whom he was paid 100 triers, sent troops and an army of more than 200 ships led by Charitimides to aid him in 460 BC. The rebel army had confronted the Persian army of around 400,000 infantry and eighty ships led by the brother of Artaxerxes, the satrap Achaemenes. The satrap Achaemenes, together with 100,000 of his 400,000 men was defeated and killed at Pampremis and the Persians retreated to Memphis. The commanders of the Athenian fleet, Charitimides and Cimon fought a naval battle with the Persians, in which forty Greek ships engaged fifty Persians ships, of which twenty were captured with their crews, and the remaining thirty sunk. To show that their victory was complete, the rebels sent the dead body of satrap Achaemenes to the Persian king.
But the victory was short lived. Charitimides was killed and Inarus was wounded in the thigh by the Persian force and retreated to Byblus, his stronghold and the only Egyptian city that did not submit to Megabyzus. After fighting for a year and a half in the marshes, Inaros, together with the Greeks, were taken captive away to Susa after being defeated by Megabyzus.
Megabyzus promised Inaros and his rebel Greeks that they would not be executed once they arrived at Susa. The Queen wanted them punished and killed because they were responsible for the death of her son, the satrap Achaemenes, and asked for his death. Artaxerxes I kept this promise but after five years of pleading handed Inaros and fifty Greeks to Queen Mother Amestris.
There are two versions of his death. According to the first he was crucified, and according to the other, impaled. A fragment of Ctesias handed down to us by Photius tells us "Inaros was executed on three stakes, fifty of the Greeks, all that she could lay hands on, were decapitated." The Greek word anestaurothe, used to describe and name the method of his execution in the texts could either mean impalement or crucifixion on a single stake, or crucifixion on a true cross, but there is not enough evidence and information in the historical records to give a definitive answer.
Thucydides tells us a slightly different story. He records no truces and Professor J M Bigwood argues that Thucydides should be interpreted as saying that Inaros was both captured and executed in the same year, 454 BC.
His revolt, although unsuccessful in the end, left a big mark in Egyptian history. Herodotus also tells us that Inaros did more damage to the Persians than any man before him.
Inaros I and II
- Thucydides. History of the Peloponnesian War. Richard Crawley (trans.). 1.104. Retrieved 10 September 2010.
- Diodorus Siculus (1946). Library of History. 4. C. H. Oldfather (trans.). Loeb Classical Library. 11.71.3-6. ISBN 978-0-674-99413-3. Retrieved 10 September 2010.
- Photius' excerpt of Ctesias' Persica (§ 14.37-39) http://www.livius.org/ct-cz/ctesias/photius_persica2.html
- Bigwood, J.M. (Spring 1976). "Ctesias' Account of the Revolt of Inarus". Phoenix (Classical Association of Canada). Classical Association of Canada. 30 (1): 1–25. JSTOR 1088018.
- Herodotus. ""BOOK III. THE THIRD BOOK OF THE HISTORIES, CALLED THALEIA.". The Histories Vol 1.
Of this, namely that it is their established rule to act so, one may judge by many instances besides and especially by the case of Thannyras the son of Inaros, who received back the power which his father had, and by that of Pausiris the son of Amyrtaios, for he too received back the power of his father: yet it is certain that no men ever up to this time did more evil to the Persians than Inaros and Amyrtaios.
- Ryholt, K. ‘The Assyrian Invasion of Egypt in Egyptian Literary Tradition’, Assyria and Beyond: Studies Presented to Mogens Trolle Larsen, edited by J.G. Dercksen, Leiden, Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten, 2004, pp. 384–511.