Artabanus of Persia


Artabanus of Persia

Artabanus the Hyrcanian was a Persian political figure during the Achaemenid Dynasty who was reportedly Regent of Persia for a few months (465 BC - 464 BC).

Artabanus probably originated from the province of Hyrcania and reportedly served as the chief official of Xerxes I. He is considered to have served either as his vizier or as his head bodyguard.

According to Aristotle, Artabanus was responsible for the death of Crown Prince Darius. He then became afraid that Xerxes would seek revenge and proceeded to assassinate the King. On the other hand Junianus Justinus reported that Artabanus had personal ambitions for the throne. He first secretly murdered Xerxes and then accused Darius of parricide, resulting in his execution. The order of events remain uncertain but Xerxes and Darius certainly left the throne vacant.

Artabanus' course of action is also uncertain. Some accounts have him usurping the throne for himself. Others consider him to have named young Artaxerxes I as King and to have acted as Regent and power behind the throne. This state of affairs would not last more than a few months. Artaxerxes reportedly slew him with his own sword, either in battle or by surprise. Artabanus is occasionally listed among the Kings of the Achaemenid dynasty though he was not related to them. As Artaxerxes is believed to be the inspiration for King Ahasuerus in the story of Purim, Artabanus may have been the inspiration for Haman in the same story.

Classical sources

*Aristotle, "Politics" 5.131Ib
*Diodorus Siculus, "Historical Library" 11.69 [http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0084]
*Justin, "Epitome of Philipic Histories of Pompeius Trogus" III 1 [http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/justinus_03_books01to10.htm] [http://www.forumromanum.org/literature/justin/english/trans3.html]
*Photius, "Epitome of Persica of Ctesias" 20 [http://www.livius.org/ct-cz/ctesias/photius_persica.html]
*Plutarch, "Life of Themistocles" 27


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