Darius III of Persia
Learn more about Darius III of Persia
|c.380 BCE - 330 BCE|
| Image:Battle of Issus.jpg|
Darius III (near middle) battling Alexander the Great
|Place of birth||Persia|
|Place of death||Bactria, Persia|
After the ambitious chiliarch Bagoas murdered King Artaxerxes III of Persia in 338 BCE, and his son King Arses in 336 BCE, he sought to install a new monarch who would be easier to control. He chose Codomannus, a distant relative of the royal house who had distinguished himself in a combat of champions in a war against the Cadusii <ref>Justin 10.3; cf. Diod. 17.6.1-2</ref> and was serving at the time as a royal courier <ref>Plutarch, Life of Alexander 18.7-8, First Oration On the Fortune or the Virtue of Alexander 326.D</ref>. Codomannus was the son of Arsames son of Ostanes, one of Artaxerxes's brothers and Sisygambis, daughter of Artaxerxes II Memnon.
Codomannus took the regnal name Darius III, and quickly demonstrated his independence from his assassin benefactor. Bagoas then tried to poison Darius as well, but Darius was warned and forced Bagoas to drink the poison himself <ref>Diodorus 17.5.6</ref>. The new king found himself in control of an unstable empire, large portions of which were governed by jealous and unreliable satraps and inhabited by disaffected and rebellious subjects.
In 336 BC Philip II of Macedon was authorized by the League of Corinth as its Hegemon to initiate a sacred war of vengeance against the Persians for desecrating and burning the Athenian temples during the Second Persian War. He sent an advance force into Asia Minor under the command of his generals Parmenion and Attalus to "liberate" the Greeks living under Persian control. After they took the Greek cities of Asia from Troy to the Maiandros river, Philip was assassinated and his campaign was suspended while his heir consolidated his control of Macedonia and the rest of Greece.
In the spring of 334 BC Philip's heir, Alexander the Great, who had himself been confirmed as Hegemon by the League of Corinth, invaded Asia Minor at the head of a combined Greek army and almost immediately faced and defeated a Persian force at the Battle of the Granicus. In 333 BC Darius himself took the field against the Greek king, but his much larger army was outflanked and defeated at the Battle of Issus and Darius was forced to flee, leaving behind his chariot, his camp, and his family, all of which were captured by Alexander. In 331 BC, Darius' sister-wife Statira, who had otherwise been well-treated <ref>Plutarch, Life of Alexander 21.2-5</ref>, died in captivity, reputedly during childbirth <ref>Plutarch, Life of Alexander, 30.1</ref>. In September of that year, after rejecting the Great King's peace overtures, Alexander again defeated Darius at the Battle of Gaugamela, when his chariot driver was killed and the Great King was knocked off his feet, which set off a general Persian rout, as his troops panicked at what they believed was the death of their king. Darius then fled to Ecbatana to begin raising a third army, while Alexander took possession of Babylon, Susa and the Persian capital at Persepolis.
Darius was deposed by his satrap Bessus, who took the regnal name Artaxerxes V, and was assassinated at Bessus' order in July 330 BC, in order to slow Alexander's pursuit, and reportedly against Alexander's express wish that Darius be caught alive. Alexander gave Darius a magnificent funeral and eventually married his daughter Statira at Opis in 324 BC. According to historian Plutarch, Alexander also took on one of Darius' catamites, the eunuch Bagoas. <ref>Curtius, VI.5.23.</ref>
 In Popular Media
- Darius was portrayed by actor Raz Degan in the 2004 film Alexander
- In some computer games, such as Rise of Nations: Thrones and Patriots and Rome: Total War Alexander, Darius is portrayed as a general unit usually controlled by the computer player.
- Darius' defeat by Alexander is mentioned in the song Alexander the Great by heavy metal band Iron Maiden.
- Darius was voiced by Carlos Ferro in the anime Alexander Senki, released in the United States as Reign: The Conqueror.
 External links
| Achaemenid dynasty|
Born: c. 380; Died: 330
Artaxerses IV Arses
|Great King (Shah) of Persia|
Alexander the Great
|Pharaoh of Egypt|
<references />ar:داريوش الثالث bg:Дарий III ca:Darios III de Pèrsia de:Dareios III. et:Dareios III es:Darío III eo:Dario la 3-a (Persio) fa:داریوش سوم fr:Darius III gl:Darío III it:Dario III di Persia he:דריווש השלישי ka:დარიოს III lt:Darijus III nl:Darius III ja:ダレイオス3世 no:Dareios III av Persia pl:Dariusz III pt:Dario III da Pérsia ru:Дарий III Кодоман sr:Дарије III fi:Dareios III sv:Dareios III ur:دارا سوم