Everything You Wanted to Know about Darius III – The King of Persia

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The last emperor of the Achaemenid empire, Darius III reigned from 336 – 330 BC both as the King of Persia and the Pharaoh of Egypt until he was defeated by Alexander the Great. Here’s let us know everything about the last Persian king of the empire whose foundation was laid by none other than Cyrus the great.

Luis García [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Darius Belonged to the Collateral Branch of the Royal Family of Persia

Son of Arsames and Sisygambis, the daughter of Artaxerxes II, Darius III was born as Artashata and widely known as Codomannus. During his early days, he served as the satrapy of Armenia and was later appointed as a royal general. It was during his time as the royal general that he distinguished himself in a sole combat against a Cadusian chief in a battle against them in 358BC. This action under the reign of Artaxerxes III gave him the path to the throne as the king of Persia.

So, how did the Persian General Codomannus Became Persian King Darius III?

In 338 BC Artaxerxes III, the then ruling king was poisoned by his vizier Bagoas with the help of a physician. After his death, his youngest son Arses (Artaxerxes IV) succeeded the throne and Bagoas found him easy to control in his two-year reign. However, just when Arses was planning to murder Bagoas, the powerful vizier sensed at the right time and murdered Arses. Next, he raised a cousin of Arses to the throne. This cousin was none other than Persian General Codomannus who later named himself as King Darius III of Persia. When Darius ascended the throne, he was already 43 years old.

His Life as a King – Initial Days

When the vizier Bagoas learnt that it wasn’t easy to control Darius, he tried to poison him. However, now that Darius was warned, he forced the vizier to drink the poison, killing the evil vizier once and for all. However, Darius by now was a king of an unstable empire where a lot of satraps were not reliable at all. Besides, a lot of the empire were inhabited by inhabited by rebellious subjects including the Khabash in Egypt.

Now that Darius had a lack of experience, he turned out to be just an average ruler as he did not have the qualities and talents required to administer a vast empire required especially during that period of crisis.

The End of Darius III and the Persian Empire at the hands of Alexander the Great

In the year 334, Philip II’s son Alexander III commonly known as Alexander the Great crossed the Hellespont – a narrow strait in northwestern Turkey that separates Europe and Asia. Now that the Persian king had made no preparations to counterattack his army, Alexander could defeat his army at various points and have won most of the Asia minor within a year. When he reached Cilicia, Darius decided to fight back only to be defeated at Issus in 333. Next, he fled from the battlefield, leaving his family – wife, mother, and children.

Also Read: Indian History: Was Malayketu the Son of Porus? 

Next, he sent two letters of friendship to Alexander. In his last letter, Darius III also offered the hand of his daughter as a political alliance, huge ransom to rescue his family and also the Achaemenid empire in the west of the Euphrates river. However, Alexander rejected the offer. Soon there was a battle at the east of modern Mosul in Gaugamela and Darius was defeated. He fled yet again through his subordinates continued to fight.

When Alexander approached him, he retired towards Bactria but was killed by Bessus, the Bactrian satrap. Later, Alexander married his daughter Stateira II in 324 along with her cousin Parysatis, the daughter of Arses (Artaxerxes IV) in a mass wedding ceremony called the Susa wedding. However, when Alexander died his first wife Roxanne killed Stateira II.

In the upcoming serial Porus on Sony TV, the role of Darius III will be played by Praneet Bhatt.

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