Artabazus (fl.362-328 BC)

Artabazus (fl.362-328) BC was a Persian satrap who rebelled against Artaxerxes III but was pardoned, served Darius III loyally and was taken into the service of Alexander the Great.

In the 350s Artabazus rebelled against the new Persian emperor, Artaxerxes III, in the fourth and final stage of the Satrap's Revolt, possibly because the new Emperor had ordered the satraps to disband their mercenary armies. The success of his revolt seems to have depended almost entirely on Greek mercenaries. First he hired Chares, an Athenian commander during the Social War. Chares found himself very short of money, and so agreed to support Artabazus in return for a large payment.

The combined forces of Chares and Artabazus defeated a force sent by the loyal satraps, said by Diodorus to have been 70,000 strong. According to Plutarch Chares wrote to Athens claiming that his victory was 'sister to that at Marathon'. Soon afterwards Artaxerxes III sent ambassadors to Athens to denounce Chares and threatened to provide support for Athens's opponents in the Social War. The Athenian Assembly decided not to take the risk, recalled Chares and ended the Social War.

After Chares was withdrawn Artabazus turned to Thebes for assistance. The Thebans, who were then engaged in a costly war with Phocis (Third Sacred War, 355-346 BC) decided to send a force under Pammenes. Pammenes won two battles over the loyal satraps, but Artabazus then suspected him of entering into communications with the loyalists, and had him killed. Soon afterwards Artabazus was forced to flee into exile in Macedon.

Artabazus was eventually pardoned. His sister married the Greek mercenary Mentor of Rhodes (brother of the more famous Memnon of Rhodes). Mentor eventually won his way back into favour, and convinced Artaxerxes III to pardon Memnon and Mentor as well. According to Diodorus Artabazus and his wife had produced eleven sons and ten daughters, and the sons were given commands by Mentor.  Amongst his sons were Pharnabazus, who commanded in the Aegean after the death of Memnon, Cophen, who Darius trusted with part of his treasury after Issus, Ariobarzanes and Arsames, who are recorded when their father surrendered to Alexander.

When Darius fled into the east of his empire after suffering a second defeat at Guagamela, Artabazus and his sons accompanied him. When Bessus took Darius prisoner Artabazus and his party stayed loyal, and left Bessus's small army. After the murder of Darius, Artabazus and three of his sons surrendered to Alexander at Zadracarta, just to the south-east of the Caspian Sea. Alexander rewarded them for their loyalty to Darius and high rank by keeping them in a position of honour with his army.

Alexander almost immediately made use of his services, sending him to take the surrender of 1,500 Greek mercenaries who had been serving with the Persians. He was then given command of an expedition against the Areians. As part of his efforts to win over the Persian nobility he made Artabazus satrap of Bactria. During the pursuit of the rebel leader Spitamenes he was given joint command of one of the five columns used to isolate him, and sent into Scythia in pursuit. Soon afterwards Artabazus asked to be allowed to retire because of his age.

Artabazus's daughters were married into the Macedonian high command. His daughter Artacama was married to Ptolemy and Artonis was married to Eumenes, his royal secretary. Alexander himself probably married Barsine, the daughter of Artabazus and a Royal princess. They may have had a son, Heracles, who first appears in the records twelve years after Alexander's death, casting some doubt on the legitimacy of his claim.   

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (3 September 2015), Artabazus (fl.362-328 BC) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/people_artabazus.html

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