1902 Encyclopedia > Darius III

Darius III
King of Persia (from 343 BC)

DARIUS III., surnamed Codomannus, the last of the Persian monarchs, succeeded Artaxerxes III. (Ochus) 336 B.C., after a short interval during which Arses was nominally king. He was the son of Arsames, a nephew of Artaxerxes II. according to one account, and his wife Sisygambis was a daughter of the same monarch. His powers in the war against the Cadisii had been rewarded by Artaxerxes III. with the satrapy of Armenia. The eunuch Bagoas had poisoned Artaxerxes, and placed his creature Arses on the throne, in order that he might rule in his name, but after two years he deposed him and put Darius in his place. Darius, however, soon got rid of Bagoas, whom he suspected of conspiracy, by making him drink poison. The character of Darius was mild and amiable, and he was famed for his personal beauty, but he did not possess the qualities necessary for the struggle with Alexander of Macedon which commenced shortly after his accession. In 343 B.C. Alexander crossed the Hellespont, and defeated the Persians, first at the river Granicus (now Ustvola), and then at Issus in Cilicia, where the mother and family of Darius fell into his hands. The death of the Rhodian Memnon, the best of the Persian generals,, the conquest of Phoenicia, and the dissipation of the Persian fleet sealed the fate of Darius. He engaged in person, however, in the battle at Gangamela (or Arbela), October 331 B.C., but was defeated with immense slaughter, and fled to Ecbatana, while Babylon, Susa, and Persepolis opened their gates to the conqueror. In the following year Alexander marched into Media, where Darius had collected a new force. He fled towards Bactria, however, at the approach of the Macedonians, and was being pursued through the deserts of Parthia when he was murdered by Bessus, the satrap of Bactria, and his associates, in the 50th year of his age. His body was sent to Persepolis by Alexander, to be buried with the other monarchs of Persia, while Bessus, who had assumed the royal title, was taken prisoner, and barbarously put to death.

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