Pharnabazus II

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Baaltars on a throne (obverse) and head of Ares (reverse), on a double shekel of Pharnabazus (380-375 BC).
Silver stater of Pharnabazus as Satrap of Phrygia (379-374 BC). British Museum.

Pharnabazus II was a Persian soldier and statesman. He was the son of Pharnaces II of Phrygia and grandson of Pharnabazus I of Phrygia, and great-grandson of Artabazus I. He and his male ancestors had governed the satrapy of Phrygia on the Hellespont from its headquarters at Dascylium since 478 BC. He married Apama, daughter of Artaxerxes II of Persia, and their son Artabazus was a satrap of Phrygia.

According to research by Theodor Nöldeke, he was descended from Otanes, one of the associates of Darius in the murder of Smerdis.

Pharnabazus II is first recorded as satrap of this province in 413 BC, when, having received orders from Darius II of Persia to send in the outstanding tribute of the Greek cities on the Ionian coast, he, like Tissaphernes of Caria, entered into negotiations with Sparta and began a war with Athens. The conduct of the war was much hindered by the rivalry between the two satraps, of whom Pharnabazus was by far the more energetic and upright. Although Pharnabazus initially fought with the Spartans against the Athenians during the Peloponnesian war, he eventually came into conflict with the Spartan king, Agesilaus [1] and went on to aid the Athenians against the Spartans in the Corinthian War. During this period, Pharnabazus is notable for his command of the Achaemenid fleet at the Battle of Cnidus in which the Persians, allied with the former Athenian admiral and then commissioned Persian admiral, Conon, annihilated the Spartan fleet, ending their brief status as the dominant Greek naval power.[2] Pharnabazus followed up this victory by capturing several Spartan-allied cities in Ionia. Abydus and Sestus were the only cities to refuse to expel the Lacedaemonians despite threats from Pharnabazus to make war on them. He attempted to force these into submission by ravaging the surrounding territory, but this proved fruitless, leading him to leave Conon in charge of winning over the cities in the Hellespont. From there, Pharnabazus sailed with his fleet to Melos and established a base there. He proceeded to take revenge on the Spartans by invading Lacedaemon were he laid waste to Pherae and proceeded to raid along the coast but eventually left due to scarce resources and few harbors for his fleet in the area as well as the looming possibility of Lacedaemonian relief forces being dispatched. He then beseiged and captured Cythera, proceeding to install an Athenian governor and a garrison to cripple Sparta's offensive military capabilities. He also gave Sparta's rivals funds to further threaten the Lacedaemonians. After being convinced by Conon that allowing him to rebuild the walls around Piraeus would be a major blow to the Lacedaemonians, Pharnabazus eagerly gave Conon a fleet and additional funds to accomplish this task. As a reward for his success, Pharnabazus was allowed to marry the king's daughter. He was then reassigned to help command a military expedition into Egypt, having proven his ability against the Spartans.[3][4]


  1. ^ Xenophon Hellenica, 4.1
  2. ^ Xenophon Hellenica, 4.3
  3. ^ Xenophon Hellenica, 4.8
  4. ^ Ruzicka, Stephen (2012). Trouble in the West: Egypt and the Persian Empire, 525-332 BC. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. pp. 55–62. ISBN 978-0-19-976662-8.