The sufferings that fate inflicts on us should be borne with patience, what enemies inflict with manly courage. — Thucydides

Tissaphernes

d. 395 BC
Civilization: Greek — Persia
   Field of Renown:  statesman — Satrap
Era:  Decline

Cunaxa
THE GREEKS AFTER CUNAXA
Tissaphernes was a Persian Satrap, son of Hydarnes. In 413 B.C. he was satrap of Lydia and Caria, and commander in chief of the Persian army in Asia Minor. When Darius II. ordered the collection of the outstanding tribute of the Greek cities, he entered into an alliance with Sparta against Athens, which in 412 led to the conquest of the greater part of Ionia. But Tissaphernes was unwilling to take action and tried to achieve his aim by astute and often perfidious negotiations; Alcibiades persuaded him that Persia's best policy was to keep the balance between Athens and Sparta, and rivalry with his neighbour Pharnabazus still further lessened his energy. When, therefore, in 408 B.C. the king decided to support Sparta strenuously, Tissaphernes was removed from the generalship and limited to the satrapy of Caria, whereas Lydia and the conduct of the war were entrusted to Cyrus the Younger.

On the downfall of Athens, Cyrus and Tissaphernes both claimed jurisdiction over the Ionian cities, most of which acknowledged Cyrus as their ruler; but Tissaphernes took possession of Miletus, where he was attacked by Cyrus, who gathered an army under this pretence with the purpose of using it against his brother Artaxerxes II. The king was warned by Tissaphernes, who took part in the Battle of Cunaxa, and afterwards tried to destroy the Greek mercenaries of Cyrus by treachery. He was then sent back to Asia Minor to his old position as general in chief and satrap of Lydia and Caria. He now attacked the Greek cities, to punish them for their allegiance to Cyrus. This led to the war with Sparta in 399. Tissaphernes, who once again had recourse to subtle diplomacy, was beaten by Agesilaus near Sardis in 395 B.C.. At last the Artaxerxes II yielded to the complaints of Pharnabazus and the queen-mother Parysatis, both of whom hated Tissaphernes, and had him treacherously slain.

—Adapted from the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica.


Key events during the life of Tissaphernes:


Year
Event
412 BC
Entered into an alliance with Sparta against Athens during the Peloponnnesian War.
408 BC
Removed from Satrapy of Lydia, left as Satrap of Caria only.
401 BC
Warned Artaxerxes of Cyrus's rebellion. Fought at Cunaxa.
399 BC
Warred with Sparta over colonies in Asia Minor.
395 BC
Defeated by Agesilaus in Asia Minor. Then murdered by his enemy Tithraustes.

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Other Resources


Story Links
Book Links
The Diary in  Callias—The Fall of Athens  by  Alfred J. Church
Lion's Cub  in  Pictures from Greek Life and Story  by  Alfred J. Church
Alcibiades Returns to Athens  in  The Story of Greece  by  Mary Macgregor
Fall of Athens  in  The Story of the Greek People  by  Eva March Tappan
Harassed by Tissaphernes  in  The Retreat of the Ten Thousand  by  Frances Younghusband


Contemporary
Short Biography
Alcibiades Controversial statesman and general of Athens, who betrayed the city, then returned as hero.
Agesilaus Leader of Sparta after the Peloponnesian War. Campaigned in Asia Minor and warred with Thebes.
Cyrus the Younger Plotted to kill his brother Artaxerxes, and assume the Persian throne.
Artaxerxes Mnemon King of Persia during the retreat of the Ten Thousand.
Pharnabazus Persian Satrap of Phrygia. Allied with Sparta near end of Peloponnesian War.