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

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