Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Not to be going barefoot

With the two modes of dress went two types of shoe.  The one worn with the robe appears to have buttoned up the instep with three straps, which hung down both sides of the shoe in long, thin triangles.  It had a visible tongue.  In early art (at Persepolis) this shoe's sole, if it had one, is not shown.

The one worn with the cavalry costume was also ankle-high, but otherwise entirely different; it was tied with a strap around the ankle.  It seems straightforward except for an odd feature:  a strap that branched off the one around the ankle and passed under the heel.  It also lacked a visible sole.  The same basic type is seen as late as the Alexander Sarcophagus, minus the under-heel strap, but with a sole clearly illustrated.

This shoe has no visible seams on the toe or outer side, though it could have been seamed at the back or the inner side.  I don't know if Persian shoes were turnshoes or not; of course this wouldn't be possible if their soles were as heavy as modern leather soles.  A good match for the ankle-strapped shoe is the Viking-period Haithabu or Hedeby shoe, which is available from several makers - Bohemond in Albuquerque, New Mexico makes three styles.  I've finally hunted up a pattern and intend to make my own sooner or later.

Another option is to get a pair of short boots from Minnetonka (obtainable from many distributors).  Cut off the fringe and perhaps file down the heels.  These are comfortable, quicker than homemade and cheaper than Viking repros, but they have several flaws:  The crepe sole wears quickly, the suede picks up dust and can't be wiped clean, and the side openings, apart from being ahistorical, let in sand readily (keep in mind that the Marathon battle reenactments are held on the beach).

If you're not used to wearing flat-soled slippers all day, all these options will require supportive insoles.  I increased the arch support of my Minnetonkas by molding wet tissues under the hollow arches of orthotic inserts.

Parthians and some Scythians wore tall boots in this period; I know of no evidence that Medes or Persians wore them.

Next up:  Society, society...

Friday, March 23, 2012

Baga vazraka Auramazdâ

The Achaemenid dynasty existed during a dynamic period in Iranian religion.  Prehistoric Iranians were polytheists like their proto-Indo-European predecessors.  They revered ancient gods such as Mithra, Anahita and Verethragna, who have counterparts in Hinduism.

Some time prior to the Achaemenid period, a priest named Zoroaster (Zarathustra) in eastern Iran or Afghanistan began to preach that there was only one true uncreated God, whom he called Ahura Mazda, the "Wise Spirit," and denounced many of the daevas (divinities) as malevolent beings unworthy of worship (roughly like demons in Christianity), such that this is what daeva came to mean.  He described his beliefs in a series of hymns and teachings which form the core of the Zoroastrian scriptures, the Avesta.

Today, Zoroastrianism is definitely monotheistic, though acknowledging lesser spirits or angels worthy of devotion (yazatas, from the root yaz-, "to worship/venerate"), among them many proto-Iranian former gods.  In the absence of such subtle distinctions in Achaemenid-period primary sources, it's not easy to judge whether Persians at that time were monotheists or polytheists.

Cyrus claimed in the Cyrus Cylinder to have been made king by Marduk, the patron god of Babylon.  But this is a political document addressing the adherents of Marduk, and can't necessarily be taken as expressing Cyrus' personal beliefs.

Baga vazraka Auramazdâ hya avam asmânam adâ hya imâm bum im adâ hya martiyam adâ hya šiyâtim adâ martiyahyâ hya Dârayavaum XŠyam...
"A great god is Ahuramazda, who created this Earth, who created yonder sky, who created man, who created happiness for man, who made Darius king..."
- Darius the Great, whenever he had the chance to say so

From Darius onward, Achaemenid royal inscriptions generally venerate Ahura Mazda, creator of the universe.  Artaxerxes II in a Susa inscription also mentions Anahita and Mithra, but merely to attribute his personal success.

The Histories document instances of Persian worship of foreign gods, such as the Assyrian Mylitta (Ishtar) and Arabian Alilat (both of whom Herodotus regards as alternate names for Aphrodite), and Apollo.  It's difficult to say whether what we have here is confusion by the Greeks (the Iranians' own Anahita, a female yazata of water and fertility, might be confused with the Semitic goddesses - for his part, Herodotus somehow wound up calling the Persian equivalent "Mitra," who is and always was male and of Indo-Iranian origin), conflation on the Persians' part (Jona Lendering has posited that they saw Apollo as Ahura Mazda, and Anahita did indeed pick up certain attributes from Ishtar), or just worship of new gods distinct from their old ones.

Herodotus futher testified that Persians themselves had no idols, temples or altars, but sacrificed on mountaintops.  The iconic fire temples of modern Zoroastrianism were introduced after the Achaemenid period.  Animal sacrifice continued from pre-Zoroastrian days.

He also claims that Persians cover their dead in wax before burial, while the Magi expose them to scavenging animals and then bury them.  Zoroastrian tradition until very recently was to let dead be completely consumed by vultures, so the rotting flesh won't pollute the sacred earth.  While the Achaemenid kings were often interred in freestanding or cliffside tombs, the use of stone tombs in Iran today stems mainly from urbanization and pressure from the Muslim majority, who found ritual exposure disturbing.  (Indian Zoroastrians may soon go a similar way, as vultures there are almost extinct.)

These facts do not necessarily indicate that Zoroastrianism was not dominant in Achaemenid Persia - for a given value of Zoroastrianism.  The lack of sources from the Persians themselves in this period leaves the distinction between gods and yazatas ambiguous.  The discarding of animal sacrifice has a parallel in Judaism, which also practiced it in this time period but today does not.  The point indeed is not whether ancient Persians were Zoroastrian, but that one cannot look exclusively to modern Zoroastrianism when attempting to describe the religion of the ancients.

Believe it or not, I have seen people do just this, when justifying, for example, the idea that there were no slaves in the Persian empire (there were) or that Jews and Zoroastrians saw each other as fellow monotheists (questionable on several levels).  As when studying the history of any religion, current practice should be seen as a product of development and not a surefire indicator of what that religion was like in the distant past.

Next time:  I will take you shoe-shopping.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Belt one out!

Update 12/10/13:  This post contains information that is probably incorrect.  Please see here.

Several ornate belt buckles are known from the Achaemenid period, but they're rare in art.  For the period of Darius the Great, a particular buckle is well-represented in reliefs at Persepolis.  Unfortunately, that doesn't put us much closer to understanding it.  It appears to be a large, round, sometimes flower-shaped button, which would be easy enough to replicate (although it would unfortunately mean the belt's tightness couldn't be adjusted).  The only problem is that the end of the belt always hangs straight down below the button, which should only work if the belt were made of very flimsy material, which it clearly isn't since it's used to suspend heavy objects, like weapons, or else if the belt were tied in a certain way.

The end of the belt was rounded, with a small round tassel.  When a sword or bowcase is worn, it's attached by a loop through an additional strap which in turn is attached to the belt at the button and the back.

I'd like to note right now that if and when someone figures out how this worked, I believe it should become the standard for reenactors of our period.

A simpler belt appears on a statuette dated to the time of Artaxerxes I, a narrow belt knotted in front with two hanging ends.  While I've seen many live and artistic reconstructions using this method, I have yet to see evidence of its use in conjunction with cavalry costume during the first few decades of the 5th century.

A similar front-knotted belt was worn with the court robe early on.  It was made of fabric and a bit wider, and ended in small round knots.  A small dagger was often tucked behind it, but I have never seen images of heavy objects being suspended from this kind of sash.  A detailed carving exists on the Egyptian statue of Darius the Great.

Still later, on the Alexander Sarcophagus, we see Persians wearing narrow belts with a round hole in the middle where the buckle should be.  Eureka!  What we have here is a simple ring belt.  While I can't say for sure that it's correct for the Graeco-Persian Wars, a ring belt is very easy to make at home.

A good leather belt should be around 8-ounce thickness.  An inch to an inch and a quarter in width is plenty.  If you're in the United States, I can recommend Tandy Leather Factory's blanks.  Use a metal ring of about 1/8 inch/3mm thickness and slightly wider than the belt.

Assembly is easy:  Fold about an inch and a half of one end of the blank through the ring.  Soaking it in water makes it more bendable, and you can weight it while it's drying so it'll stay put.  Next, either drill or punch large holes for rivets, or small holes to sew the end down.  I would guess that stitching is "safer" from an historical perspective, but won't object to rivets (ask for guidelines if you join a local group).  If you have real or artificial sinew, use that, but common dental floss is fine for leatherworking.  Stitch in several rows (or a square) for strength.  Once that's done, tie the belt around your waist and trim off the excess.

The fact that the buckle is visible as a hole means that the ring belt isn't tied in the usual way, with the end passing through the ring and tying around the base where the ring is attached (as demonstrated here and on countless other sites).  Presumably the end instead loops around the ring and ties back on itself.

Next time:  the God of kings.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Who's near you?

The following reenactment groups have agreed to be published here as contacts for prospective Persian empire reenactors.  More groups will be posted as I'm able to get in contact with them.  If you know of one that's not listed here, there's rarely any harm in asking them if they'll take you on.

Ancient Hoplitikon
Melbourne, Australia

Toronto, Canada
Hoplologia has members across eastern North America.  It's led by Christian Cameron, one of the chief organizers of Marathon 2011, and is the parent group of Taxeis Plataia.

Athens, Greece

Spartiatikes Mores
Athens, Greece
This group is preparing to change its name (to Leonidas) and website.  New contact information as soon as I get it.

Last but not least:
The umbrella group formed by participants of Marathon 2011, Amphictyonia exists to provide unified planning and representation when multiple groups come together to stage major events.  Additional links to groups around the world may be found here.

Other useful links:

Sword Forum International
Two great sites for the discussion of arms and armor.

Roman Army Talk
While the main site is focused on Rome, RAT is one of the big Internet hubs for reenactors of all ancient periods.

Hellenic Armors
The exclusive armorer for Koryvantes (above).  Greek-style armor is appropriate for Iranians at least some of the time, and of course Ionians and Greek mercenaries in Persian service.

Next up:  Belts.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Put on some pants!

Sadly, I know of no physical finds of ancient Persian legwear, but that doesn't mean we have to rely on guesswork.

Some of the most important period illustrations come from Persepolis, where Medes and Scythians carry trousers as tribute to Darius the Great.  What makes these images interesting is that they demonstrate that at least some trousers had attached feet, and some reenactors have taken to calling them hose.  This accounts for the unrumpled closeness of trousers at the ankles of anyone wearing Medo-Persian costume, the legs passing into the boots without hanging over the boot tops.

This portrayal is not consistent; there are Greek potteries out of the war period showing trousers that open wide at the ankle.  But in these instances, there's often other differences that often indicate the wearer is not a Mede or Persian:  The famous kylix, that Wikipedia uses to illustrate its Greco-Persian Wars article, shows a hoplite fighting a man in a tall hat with a curled peak and open-fronted jacket, suggesting that he is in fact a Scythian, and the Negro Alabastron group shows two black soldiers in Iranian dress and Greek corselets, presumably Kushite levies, and a white soldier in a Scythian hat.

Most artistic portrayals agree that the trousers should be very close-fitting.  Baggy trousers saw limited use in the Achaemenid period, such as among certain Scythians.  They didn't become the norm in the Middle East until much later.  Unfortunately, I don't know of evidence of knitted fabric (which could account for the snug fit) in this period.

For the time being, XMFM won't require that trousers be footed.  However, if you're portraying a Persian or Mede, they should be as close-fitting as you can make them.  Pending historical evidence, it's up to you what sort of closure to use on your trousers - but if you use something modern, do keep it hidden under your tunic.  Drawstrings are a good simple way to go.  If you join a group near you, they'll probably have standards of their own that may differ from XMFM and will probably be higher.

Next up:  Who's near you?  (first draft)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Addendum - Ancient army numbers

You'll note that in the preceding histories, I've mentioned few specifics about the numbers of soldiers engaged in a given battle or campaign.  That's because the topic remains a matter of long and intense debate where the only thing clear is that nothing is clear. We can say with relative certainty that there were about 6,400 deaths on the Persian side at Marathon because the Greeks counted them before burial. But what fraction of the  army is that? Modern estimates vary just as wildly as ancient ones.

For these reasons, I caution against speaking with certitude, even about the saw that Greeks tended to exaggerate the size of Persian armies.  You can say that such-and-such traditional number is wrong, but all that's left is educated guesses.  It's less exciting this way, but my preference in all cases is to just be honest about how little we know for sure.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

618 (3/3)

Alexander the Great
The same year of Darius III's accession, 336 BC, Philip of Macedon was assassinated.  His son Alexander reestablished control over Greece, before being able to invade Anatolia in 334.  Around the end of May, a group of satraps confronted him in the northwest at Granicus River.  Most of them died attacking Alexander in a cavalry charge; their infantry retreated and Greek mercenaries surrendered only to be executed by Alexander.

He then besieged and captured the Persian-occupied cities.  Meanwhile, Memnon, leader of the Greek mercenaries at Granicus, launched a successful naval campaign against the Macedonians in Greece.  However, in the summer of 333, he fell ill and died.

That fall, Darius recalled his Greeks and assembled a large army.  At Issus in November, Alexander forced Darius to retreat by defeating his cavalry; the infantry retreated with heavy losses.  Alexander's lieutenant Parmenion rode to Damascus and kidnapped Darius' family.  Darius offered ransom for them; Alexander refused.  Over 332, he conquered Phoenicia and thus the Persian naval arm.  Egypt surrendered, its troops having been lost at Issus.

Darius' next army dug in on the bank of the Tigris near Mosul and Alexander attacked on Oct. 1, 331.  It appears that again Alexander's cavalry forced Darius to abandon his army, though another account claims his army abandoned him.

Babylon surrendered in October, Susa in November.  Persepolis put up a difficult fight, but surrendered after the Persian Gate was forced in January, 330.  Alexander refused Darius' concession of the western empire, wishing instead to be recognized as Great King.  Darius headed east, hoping to fight again, but Bessus, satrap of Bactria, arrested him and offered to deliver him to Alexander, perhaps hoping to avoid being deposed himself.  Alexander refused, pursuing Bessus' men, who murdered Darius on the road outside Choara in July.

With Darius dead, Alexander and Bessus both claimed the kingship of Persia.  Alexander buried Darius with honors at Persepolis, then sought the support of the Persians by launching a campaign against Bessus to avenge his dead rival.

Alexander sought continuity with the Achaemenid dynasty in other ways:  He wore Achaemenid regalia, continued the satrapy system, took Iranians into his army and, in 324, married Darius' daughter Barsine (better known as Stateira II), at the same ceremony marrying many of his officers to Iranian princesses.  Historian Pierre Briant even described him as "last of the Achaemenids."  But he failed on some levels, including his understanding of Iranian religion, while alienating the Macedonians by assuming the post of their former enemy.

Fugue state
With Alexander's death in 323, his generals descended into civil war and tore apart his empire.  Ironically, the largest kingdom to emerge from this mess consisted largely of the core territories of the Persian empire, and was ruled by Seleucus, the only one of Alexander's officers who didn't divorce his arranged Iranian wife, Apama; their son Antiochus inherited the throne.

Among the Persians there remained the memory of a great empire, but over the centuries, it became mingled with ancient legends.  During the Sassanid dynasty (AD 224-651) it was said that their ancestor, Sasan, was descended from "Darab, son of Darae" (just as the Safavids in the 17th century would claim descent from Musá ibn Ja‘far al-Kazim, thus connecting them with the legendary Sassanid princess Shahrbānū).  In the Šāhnāmeh (written circa 1000), this Darab is clearly the same as Darius III, but rather than an Achaemenid, he is the last of the Kayanids, mythical kings in the Avestas.  His enemy, Eskandar (Alexander), is a king of Rum (Rome, meaning the Byzantine empire).  Likewise, Persepolis itself came to be called Takht-e Jamshīd ("Throne of Jamshīd"), after another legendary king.  It was, ironically, in the Graeco-Roman histories that some understanding of the Achaemenids survived.

Next up:  Pants.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Getting shirty

Persians are known to have worn two modes of dress during the Achaemenid period.  One is an ankle-length robe or tunic with a poncho-like upper.  The other is a simple shirt-and-pants ensemble like that seen from Greater Iran through Scythia to Western Europe, where it persisted until the Middle Ages.

Herodotus claims that the robe is the native Persian costume, the shirt and pants (sometimes called Median or cavalry costume) being adopted from the Medes.  Some modern historians suggest that rather the Persians adopted the robe from their Elamite neighbors.  At Xerxes I's tomb at Naqsh-e Rustam an Elamite is seen wearing a nearly-identical robe, while all Iranian peoples other than the Persians wear a shirt or short coat and pants.

In any case, the robe appears to have been an item of formalwear.  It is seen at processions in royal iconography and seals depicting the idealized king slaying enemies, but very rarely in Greek battle art.  It's also (so far as I know; I'd very much like further evidence) the only attested form of dress for Achaemenid women.  Unfortunately, its construction is even more unclear than that of other garments.  For example, was the caped top an integral part of the body or a separate piece?  I haven't seen anyone attempt a reconstruction since Iran's 1971 commemoration of the empire's founding.

Get on with it
The Medo-Persian tunic was knee-length.  It had a round neckline, close-fitting, wrist-length sleeves and fit close in the upper body as well.  Below the waist, it was probably flared for ease of movement.  The hem was straight.

The neckline in period art rarely looks wide enough for the head to fit through, so it probably had some kind of closure.  It is possible, for example, that the neckline was actually a keyhole style, with a short slit running down the front like a polo shirt, the top of which could have been closed with a loop and button, string and button or two strings.

The shirt was boldly decorated with stripes, zigzags and diamonds.  A good source is the so-called Alexander Sarcophagus, which was originally painted and a reproduction of which has been retouched to mimic the original:  It shows two Persian shirts with contrasting cuffs, hems, necklines and single central stripes, and another with two central stripes.

Late in the 1st century BC, Strabo in his Geographica wrote that Persians wore "double tunics."  I've seen it suggested this means they wore one tunic as outerwear and another as an undershirt.  I've yet to try this out, but if the undershirt were made of linen, it seems like it would make wearing a wool outer tunic more comfortable.  Of course, even if correct, this hypothesis may very well be anachronistic for the Achaemenid period.

Since we don't know about the construction, there are several options for making or obtaining your shirt.  Similar European tunics from the late Roman, Migration and Viking periods are available ready-made, but if you get a non-custom one, there's the chance that you might not like the fabric or fit, plus you'll need to find one without decoration.  Making your own (or having one made for you) takes care of these challenges, but keep in mind the alterations necessary for a close fit and freedom of movement.

Next time:  Alexander the Great and the fall of the empire.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

1,126 (2/3)

The Ionian Revolt
The army that failed to take Naxos included Greek contingents and tyrants from Greek Anatolia.  According to Herotodus, Aristagoras kidnapped these tyrants and handed them over to their cities as incentive to join the revolt.

He also asked aid from mainland Greece.  Athens, a new democracy aiming to spread that form of government elsewhere, responded, as did Eretria.  The combined forces invaded Sardis in 498 BC, and (possibly accidentally) burned much of the city.  A Persian army followed the Greeks to their landing place in Ephesus and defeated them.  The Athenians and Eretrians retreated.  The Ionians and Persians fought to a stalemate from 497-95.

Aristagoras left Milesian politics and went to Thrace, where he died fighting the natives.  In 494, the Ionian fleet fell apart during the Battle of Lade off the coast of Miletus, mostly ending the revolt.  The Persians spent 493 flushing out the remaining rebels, and building a more workable system of arbitration and taxes.  In 492, Darius' son-in-law Mardonius (Mardoniye or Marduniya) traveled through Ionia with an army and officially converted the tyrannies to democracies.

The Graeco-Persian Wars
Darius determined to punish the mainlanders who'd aided the rebels.  Mardonius took a fleet and conquered Thrace and Macedon, but turned back after a storm wrecked many ships.  In 491, Darius sought the submission of major cities of mainland Greece.  Most made a show of accepting, but Athens and Sparta killed the ambassadors sent to them.

In 490, an expedition against Eretria and Athens was launched under Artaphernes' son Artaphernes and Datis.  They conquered several islands, besieged Eretria and forcibly resettled the populace to Iran.  Lastly, they landed at the plain of Marathon, to march to Athens.  The Athenian army and a small force of Plataeans blocked the mountain passes from Marathon.  After five-day standoff, the Greeks attacked the Persian camp, according to Herodotus after the Persian cavalry re-embarked.  The phalanx routed the Persian infantry, killing six thousand (possibly a third of the army).  Artaphernes sailed to Athens itself, but the Athenians marched home even faster and Artaphernes gave up.  Darius' attention in the last year of his life, 486, was taken up by another revolt in Egypt.

His son Xerxes I (Xšayarša) assembled a huge army to invade Greece.  He marched to northern Greece in spring 480, then sailed south.  The Greeks split, some submitting to Xerxes and others forming a defensive alliance.  The allied Greeks and Persians fought an indecisive sea battle at Artemesium in August or September, and the Greek army left Thermopylae when outflanked after several days of battle; the Persians then burned the evacuated Athens.  The Greek fleet fled to the bay of Salamis, where they drove back the Persian fleet with heavy losses.

For unclear reasons, Xerxes left Greece with most of the army, leaving Mardonius to occupy southern Greece.  In June 479, after months of stalemate and negotiations, the alliance attacked Mardonius outside Plataea, killing him and most of his army.  Simultaneously, their fleet destroyed what remained of the Persian fleet at Mycale in Ionia. Over the next several decades, the empire was driven out of Ionia, which joined the Delian League.

Xerxes was assassinated in August, 465 by a high official, Artabanus, who also caused the death of his son Darius, either murdering him before Xerxes or falsely accusing him of Xerxes' murder.  Artabanus was himself killed by Xerxes' younger son Artaxerxes (Artaxšaça), who took the throne.  Xerxes is believed to have been entombed near Darius I at Naqsh-e Rustam, north of Persepolis.

Artaxerxes is remembered for his support of Jewish nobles Ezra and Nehemiah, who furthered the rebuilding of Jerusalem and promoted religious orthodoxy.  He also, ironically, rendered sanctuary to the Athenian politician Themistocles, leader of the allied Greeks at Salamis, who was driven out of Greece by political enemies.

In 460, a protracted revolt in Egypt broke out, in which the Delian League took part.  The revolt failed, but not until taking the life of Artaxerxes' uncle Achaemenes, satrap of Egypt.  Artaxerxes concluded the Peace of Callias with the League in 449.  He died in Susa in 424, having reigned even longer than Darius the Great, but not longest of the Achaemenids.

More intrigue followed.  Artaxerxes' son Xerxes II was killed after a 45-day reign by half-brother Sogdianus, who was killed by another half-brother, Ochus, who declared himself Darius II.

Darius intervened late in the Peloponnesian War, giving Sparta money and ships to help bring down the Athenian empire.  The year that war ended, 404 BC, Darius died of illness.  He was succeeded by his son Artaxerxes II.  All seemed well until 401, when his other son Cyrus the Younger quietly gathered an army in Sardis to overthrow his brother.  Cyrus got near Babylon before being killed at the Battle of Cunaxa charging his brother's bodyguard.

Artaxerxes II was the longest-reigning Achaemenid king, totalling 45 years.  Early in his reign, the Egyptians finally revolted successfully.  In 399, Tissaphernes, satrap of Lydia, attacked the Greeks in Ionia as retribution for their support of Cyrus.  This provoked Sparta to invade Lydia in 396, which Artaxerxes deflected by funding Sparta's Greek enemies, leading to the Corinthian War (395-387).  When the anti-Spartan alliance started winning, and allied with Egypt and the anti-Persian government of Salamis-in-Cyprus, Artaxerxes switched to supporting Sparta, demanding the Greeks make peace.  The ensuing treaty in 386 handed Ionia back to the Persian empire.

Artaxerxes turned his attention to the Cadusii, a rebellious mountain tribe of northern Iran.  His expedition of 385 ran short on food before taking advantage of Cadusian factionalism to gain the submission of rival chiefs.  He was less successful attempting to retake Egypt in the 370s.

In 372 Datames, satrap of Cappadocia, rebelled.  The neighbouring satrapies failed to retake Cappadocia.  In 366 he was joined by Ariobarzanes of Hellespontine Phrygia and in 364 gained the support of Sparta.  The revolt ultimately failed when Ariobarzanes' son Mithradates assassinated Datames and Ariobarzanes was captured and executed.

A series of plots late in Artaxerxes' reign led to the deaths of all his sons except one, who acceded as Artaxerxes III in 358.  His suppression of the Phoenician rebellion in 346 or 345 resulted in the destruction of Sidon, in between campaigns in Egypt that finally retook the ancient country in 343.  He looted and then taxed Egypt heavily to weaken its ability to rebel again.

Late in Artaxerxes' reign, Philip II of Macedon planned to conquer Greece and launch a full-scale invasion of Persia.  Artaxerxes' reign ended in a bloodbath.  Historian Diodorus reported him poisoned by his minister, Bagoas, who also killed most of his children, including puppet king Artaxerxes IV.  Bagoas' last act was to enthrone Artaxerxes' cousin Codomannus as Darius III in 336.  On attempting to poison Darius, he was caught and forced to drink the poison himself.

To Be Continued