When Artaxerxes II. mounted the throne of Persia in 404 B.C., the power of
Athens had been broken by Lysander, and the Greek towns in Asia were again subjects of the Persian
empire. But his whole reign is a time of continuous decay; the original force of the Persians had
been exhausted in luxury and intrigues, and the king, though personally brave and good-natured, was
quite dependent upon his favourites and his harem, and especially upon his mother Parysatis. In the
beginning of his reign falls the rebellion of his brother Cyrus, who was secretly favoured by
Parysatis and by Sparta. Although Cyrus was defeated at Cunaxa, this rebellion was disastrous
inasmuch as it opened to the Greeks the way into the interior of the empire, and demonstrated that
no oriental force was able to withstand a band of well-trained Greek soldiers. Subsequently Greek
mercenaries became indispensable not only to the king but also to the satraps, who thereby gained
the means for attempting successful rebellions, into which they were provoked by the weakness of the
king, and by the continuous intrigues between the Persian magnates. The reign is, therefore, a
continuous succession of rebellions.
|PERSIAN KING HUNTING|
Egypt soon revolted anew and could not be subdued again. When
in 399 war broke out between Sparta and Persia, the Persian troops in Asia Minor were quite unable
to resist the Spartan armies. The active and energetic Persian general Pharnabazus succeeded in
creating a fleet by the help of Evagoras, king of Salamis in Cyprus, and the Athenian commander
Conon, and destroyed the Spartan fleet at Cnidus (August 394). This victory enabled the Greek allies
of Persia (Thebes, Athens, Argos, Corinth) to carry on the Corinthian war against Sparta, and the
Spartans had to give up the war in Asia Minor. But it soon became evident that the only gainers by
the war were the Athenians, who in 389, under Thrasybulus, tried to found their old empire anew.
At the same time Evagoras attempted to conquer the whole of Cyprus, and was soon in
open rebellion. The consequence was that, when in 388 the Spartan admiral Antalcidas came to Susa,
the king was induced to conclude a peace with Sparta by which Asia fell to him and European Greece
to Sparta. By the peace of Antalcidas the Persian supremacy was proclaimed over Greece; and in the following
wars all parties, Spartans, Athenians, Thebans, Argives continually applied to Persia for a decision
in their favour.
After the battle of Leuctra, when the power of Thebes was founded by Epaminondas,
Pelopidas went to Susa (367) and restored the old alliance between Persia and Thebes. The Persian
supremacy, however, was not based upon the power of the empire, but only on the discord of the
Greeks. When the long reign of Artaxerxes II. came to its
close in the autumn of 359 the authority of the empire had been restored almost everywhere.
Artaxerxes himself had done very little to obtain this result. In fact, in the last years of his
reign he had sunk into a perfect dotage. All his time was spent in the pleasures of his harem, the
intrigues of which were further complicated by his falling in love with and marrying his own
daughter Atossa (according to the Persian religion a marriage between the nearest relations is no
incest). At the same time, his sons were quarrelling about the succession; one of them, Ochus,
induced the father by a series of intrigues to condemn to death three of his older brothers, who
stood in his way. Shortly afterwards, Artaxerxes II. died.
—Excerpted from the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica.
Key events during the life of Artaxerxes II:
||Assumed throne of Persia on the death of Darius II.
||Defeats and kills his brother Cyrus at the Battle of Cunaxa.
||Agesilaus sent to Asia Minor to liberate Asian colonies.
||Spartan fleet destroyed at Cnidus. Agesilaus returns to fight Corinthian War.
||Peace of Antalcidas is signed with very favorable terms for Persia.
||Pelopidas travels to Susa to negotiate peace between Persia and Thebes.
||Death of Artaxerxes II.
|Cyrus the Younger
||Plotted to kill his brother Artaxerxes, and assume the Persian throne.
||Persian satrap who fought Agesilaus in Lydia.
||Mother of Cyrus and Artaxerxes.
||Leader of Sparta after the Peloponnesian War. Campaigned in Asia Minor and warred with Thebes.
||Spartan general who negotiated the peace that ended the Corinthian War.
||King of Salamis in Cyprus
||Helped to liberate Thebes. Leader of the "Sacred Band" of Theban Warriors.