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Pharnabazus, fl.413-373

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Pharnabazus, fl.413-373

Pharnabazus (c.413-373 BC) was a successful Persian military commander who fought against the Greeks and Egyptians during the reigns of Darius II and Artaxerxes II.

Pharnabazus was the hereditary satrap of Dascylium in Asia Minor, ruling Hellespontine Phrygia. He succeeded his father to the post in about 413. His family had ruled the area for around 90 years by the time Pharnabazus inherited the satrapy.

In 413 Persia entered the Great Peloponnese War, supporting Sparta against Athens. Pharnabazus operated in support of the Spartans in the Hellespont. At first his main role was the help the Spartans avoid the worst consequences of a series of naval defeats. In 411 he sent his cavalry into the sea to help rescue the Spartan survivors of their defeat at Abydos. In 410 he led the Persian contingent during successful siege of the Athenian-held city of Cyzicus, but then had to help the Spartan survivors of their defeat at sea in the battle of Cyzicus. The Spartans were in a rare state of despair after this battle, as revealed in a letter from their second-in-command 'Timbers gone, Mindarus gone, men starving, we know not what to do'. Pharnabazus revived their spirits, providing them with funds to repair some of the damage. This didn't prevent a Spartan army raiding his satrapy during the winter of 410/9 and defeating him in battle.

At first he had been working alongside Tissaphernes, a fellow satrap and rival, but in 407 Tissaphernes was replaced by Cyrus the Younger, Darius's younger son. After this the war effort was better coordinated. The Persian support allowed the Spartans to come back from their defeats, and eventually they destroyed the last Athenian fleet at Aegospotami in 405 BC, effectively winning the war.

In 404 Pharnabazus was probably responsible for the death of the Athenian leader Alcibiades, either because of Spartan pressure, or because he learnt that Alcibiades was going to warn Artaxerxes that his brother Cyrus was planning to revolt, and Pharabazus wanted to take the credit for bringing that news to court. If the second version is true Pharnabazus waited too long, and his local rival Tissaphernes brought the new to court just in time to allow Artaxerxes to raise and army and defeat his brother at Cunaxa.

In 400 war broke out between Sparta and Persia, after the Spartans supported the rebel Cyrus the Younger. At first the Spartans concentrated their efforts against the satrap Tissaphernes, but their first commander was replaced. The new commander, Dercylidas, arranged a truce with Tissaphernes and spent the next two campaigning seasons operating against Pharnabazus. Dercylidas had a grudge against Pharnabazus that came from the period when he had been serving as harmost of Abydos under Lysander, and had been forced to stand guard after Pharnabazus complained about some of his actions. This didn't stop the campaign from being punctuated by truces between Pharnabazus and Dercylidas.

In 397 the Spartan government ordered Dercylidas to move south to campaign in Caria. Tissaphernes have been made overall commander in Asia Minor, and he was able to summon Pharnabazus and his army to held defeat the Spartans. The combined Persian armies and the Greeks came face to face on the road to Ephesus, and a battle seemed likely. Pharnabazus wanted to fight, but Tissaphernes didn't want to risk another defeat at the hands of Greek hoplites, and peace negotiations began. The Spartans demanded that the Persians leave the Greek cities alone. The two satraps demanded that the Spartans leave Asia Minor. A truce was arranged while the two sides considered these demands. Pharbabazus decided to take his case to Susa, where he was able to convince Artaxerxes II to construct a new fleet.

When the news reached Sparta that the Persians were preparing 300 triremes in Phoenicia the peace talks ended, and early in 396 a new Spartan army under King Agesilaus crossed to Asia Minor. His first action was to arrange a truce with Tissaphernes. When this ended he pretended that he was planned to attack Caria, but then turned north and raided Pharnbazus's lands instead.

In 395 Agesilaus inflicted a damaging defeat on Tissaphernes at Sardis. The two men then agreed to a truce, and the Spartans moved to attack Pharnabazus. Soon afterwards Tissaphernes was killed on the orders of Artaxerxes. In the meantime Pharnabazus was the victim of a fresh attack. He had already lost the support of Spithridates, one of his noblemen. He now lost control of Mysia, in the north-west of his province, and the Spartans also won over the ruler of Paphlagonia. Pharnabazus was driven out of his own capital at Dascylium, and his camp was successfully plundered by some of Agesilaus's men. However this was the low point of the war for Pharnbazus. In the aftermath of this victory the Spartans fell out with their allies over the division of the plunder. Spithridates and the Paphlagonians both changed sides again, although tellingly they sided with the new ruler at Sardis, one Ariaeus. In the spring of the next year Agesilaus was forced to return to Greece after Lysander was killed in the first major battle of the Corinthian War, at Haliartus, lifting the pressure on Pharnabazus.

In 394 command of the Persian fleet was shared between Pharnabazus and the Athenian Conon, after Conon managed to convince Artaxerxes to provide enough money to support it. The new naval policy paid off when the Persian fleet, under their joint command, destroyed the Spartan fleet at Cnidus (394), ending Spartan naval power. Conon commanded the first line of the Persian fleet, made up of Greek ships, and was responsible for seeing off an initial Spartan threat, but Pharnabazus with his Phoenician and Cilician ships played a part in the final victory. In the aftermath of their victory Pharnabazus and Conon cruised around the coast of Asia Minor, where a whole series of cities changed sides (possibly because of the poor quality of Spartan rule over the previous few years). Sparta's brief period of naval domination was over.

In 393 Pharnabazus and Conon appeared in Greek waters, raiding along the coast of the Peloponnese. They captured the island of Cythera, off the southern tip of the peninsula, to use as a naval base, and then visited the Greek allies at the Isthmus of Corinth and Athens. At Athens they helped fund the rebuilding of the walls of Piraeus and the Long Walls linking the city to the port. Persian money also allowed Corinth to raise a fleet with which she temporarily gained control of the Gulf of Corinth.

In 388 Persia changed sides, supporting Sparta against the revived power of Athens, helping to produce the King's Peace (387/6). Pharnabazus was now too closely connected to the anti-Spartan policy and was moved from Asia Minor. In c.387/6 Xenophon reports that he had moved 'up country' to marry a daughter of Artaxerxes II.

Pharnabazus was given the task of trying to restore Persian control over Egypt but this time he was less successful. He led two invasions of Egypt, in 385 and 373, but both ended in failure. The second attack came closest to success, but Pharnabazus argued with Iphicrates, the commander of his Greek troops and was forced to retreat by an inundation of the Nile.

Pharnabazus (1)

Pharnabazus (second quarter fifth century BCE): Persian nobleman, after 455 (?) satrap of Hellespontine Phrygia.

Pharnabazus was the son of a Persian nobleman named Artabazus, who was satrap of Hellespontine Phrygia, i.e., the northwest of what is now Turkey. The family of Artabazus belonged to the highest Persian elite: his father Pharnaces had been mayor of the palace of his nephew, king Darius I the Great.

To us, Artabazus' son Pharnabazus is just a name. We do not even know when he became satrap, although 455 is likely. About his acts, we are ignorant. He had already been succeeded by his son Pharnaces II in the winter of 430/429.

So little is known about Pharnabazus, that it has been assumed that he was in fact never satrap. His father may still have been serving the king in 450/449 and several scholars have assumed that the son served his father, and never became satrap. In this reconstructrion, Pharnabazus' father was directly succeeded by Pharnaces.


Pharnabazus, Satrap of Phrygia (fl. 413 –繵 BCE), son of Pharnaces of Phrygia, is indicated to have shared his rule and territories with his brothers in the late 5th century BCE when Pharnabazos had recently succeeded to the position. Mithradates, Satrap of Cappadocia, might have been one of such brothers. Ariobarzanes of Cius might have also been one of those brothers.

The classical source Appianus relates that Ariobarzanes was of a cadet line of the family of the Persian Great King Dareios (Darius the Great).

It is highly probable he is the same Ariobarzanes who, around 407 BCE, was the Persian envoy to the Greek city-states and cultivated the friendship of Athens and Sparta. Ariobarzanes conducted the Athenian ambassadors, in 405 BCE, to his sea-town of Cius in Mysia, after they had been detained three years by order of Cyrus the Younger. ΐ]

Ariobarzanes was mentioned as under-satrap in Anatolia in late 5th century BCE. He then apparently succeeded his presumed kinsman (possibly elder brother) Pharnabazus (fl. 413 –繵 BCE) as satrap of Phrygia and Lydia, assigned by Pharnabazos himself when he departed to the Persian court to marry Apama, daughter of the Persian king. Thus Ariobarzanes became the satrap of Hellespontine Phrygia, in what is now the northwest of Turkey. Pharnabazos lived well into the 370s BCE, having obtained higher positions in the Persian monarchy than merely the Phrygian satrapship.

Ariobarzanes assisted Antalcidas in 388 BCE. Α]

References [ edit | edit source ]

  • Aristotle, Politics, H. Rackham (translator), Cambridge, MA - London, (1944)
  • Demosthenes, Speeches, C. A. Vince & J. H. Vince (translators), Cambridge—London, (1926)
  • Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca, C. H. Oldfather (translator), Cambridge, MA - London, (1989)
  • McGing, Brian C. (1986) "The Kings of Pontus: Some Problems of Identity and Date,". Rheinisches Museum für Philologie, vol. 129 (1986), pp 248..259.
  • Nepos, Cornetlius (1866) Lives of Eminent Commanders, John Selby Watson (translator), (1886)
  • Smith, William (editor) Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, "Ariobarzanes I", Boston, (1867) , Cyropaedia, Cambridge, MA - London, (1979–83)
  • Xenophon, Hellenica, Cambridge, MA—London, (1985–86)

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain:  Smith, William, ed (1870). " article name needed ". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.  

Pharnabazus, fl.413-373 - History

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Talk:Pharnabazus II

  • Ancient Egypt portal

We should have an article on every pyramid and every nome in Ancient Egypt. I'm sure the rest of us can think of other articles we should have.

To start with, most of the general history articles badly need attention. And I'm told that at least some of the dynasty articles need work. Any other candidates?

A boring task, but the benefit of doing it is that you can set the dates !(e.g., why say Khufu lived 2589-2566? As long as you keep the length of his reign correct, or cite a respected source, you can date it 2590-2567 or 2585-2563)

Anyone? I consider this probably the most unimportant of tasks on Wikipedia, but if you believe it needs to be done . . .

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1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Pharnabazus

PHARNABAZUS, Persian soldier and statesman, the son of Pharnaces, belonged to a family which from 478 governed the satrapy of Phrygia on the Hellespont, from its headquarters at Dascyhum, and, according to a discovery by Th. Nöldeke, was descended from Otanes, one of the associates of Darius in the murder of Smerdis. Pharnabazus first appears as satrap of this province in 413, when, having received orders from Darius II. to send in the outstanding tribute of the Greek cities on the coast, he, like Tissaphernes of Caria, entered into negotiations with Sparta and began war with Athens. The conduct of the war was much hindered by the rivalry between the two satraps, of whom Pharnabazus was by far the more energetic and upright. After the war he came into conflict with Lysander (q.v.: see also Peloponnesian War ), who tried to keep the Greek cities under his own dominion, and became one of the causes of his overthrow, by a letter which he sent to the ephors at Sparta (Plut. Lys. 19 Nepos, Lys. 4 Polyaen. vii. 19). He received Alcibiades at his court and promised him means to go up to the king to reveal the intrigues of Cyrus, but when the Spartans insisted on his death he yielded to their demand for his assassination (Plut. Alcib. 37 sqq. Diod. xiv. 11). When in 399 the war with Sparta broke out he again tried to conduct it strenuously with the help of Conon and Evagoras of Salamis he organized the Persian fleet, and while he was hard pressed on land by Agesilaus he prepared the decisive sea-battle, which was fought in August 394 at Cnidus under his and Conon's command, and completely destroyed the Spartan fleet. He sent support to the allies in Greece, by which the walls of the Peiraeus were rebuilt. But in the war on land he struggled in vain against the lethargy and disorganization of the Persian Empire and when at last, in 387, in consequence of the embassy of Antalcidas to Susa, the king decided to conclude peace with Sparta and to enter again into close alliance with her, Pharnabazus, the principal opponent of Sparta, was recalled from his command in high honours, to marry Apame, a daughter of the king (Plut. Artax. 27). In 385 he was one of the generals sent against Egypt, and in 377 he was ordered to prepare a new expedition against the valley of the Nile. The gathering of the army took years, and when in 373 all was ready, his attempt to force the passage of the Nile failed. A conflict with Iphicrates, the leader of the Greek mercenaries, increased the difficulties, at last Pharnabazus led the army back to Asia. From these campaigns date the silver coins with the name of Pharnabazus in Aramaic writing. When he died is not known.

In the time of Alexander we meet with a Persian general Pharnabazus, son of Artabazus (Arrian ii. 1 seq.), who probably was the grandson of the older Pharnabazus.

Pharnabazus, fl.413-373 - History

Charles Hilbert

The 3rd century BC in Greece was an age of military innovation. The lessons learned in the Peloponnesian War (431-404) led to the increased use of lightly armed troops and cavalry. The Theban leader Epaminondas developed the oblique order of battle, and the century’s closing decades saw the emergence of the Macedonian phalanx. The reforms of Iphicrates contributed greatly to the creation of this famous formation.

The Peltasts of General Iphicrates

Iphicrates first enters the pages of history during the Corinthian War (394-386 bc). The Spartan king, Agesilaus, had just taken several fortified positions and a great amount of booty from the Corinthians and their allies, the Athenians and the Argives. He was camped some miles to the east of Corinth, having left a garrison in the coastal city of Lekhaion to keep an eye on his enemies.

It was the custom of the Spartans’ allies, the Amyklaions, wherever they were, to go home for the holiday called the Hyakinthia, to sing paeans to Apollo. The Amyklaion contingent of the Spartan army was posted in Lekhaion, and in order to get back to Amyklai, which was located a little south of Sparta, they had to pass by Corinth. The Spartan commander in charge of the garrison at Lekhaion ordered the rest of the Spartan allies to guard the walls while he escorted the Amyklaions safely past Corinth with a contingent of Spartan hoplites and cavalry.

Twenty miles outside of Sikyon, the Spartan commander ordered the cavalry to accompany the Army klaions as far as they wanted to go and then to catch up with the hoplites. This left the hoplites without any cavalry support. Since hoplites could not run far in their armor, all good hoplite commanders made it a point to have cavalry guarding their flanks in case of attacks by the enemy’s cavalry and light infantry. The Spartan commander, perhaps overconfident after his countrymen’s recent victories, began to march back to Lekhaion, past Corinth, which just happened to be full of Athenian soldiers under the command of Iphicrates.

Iphicrates and Callias, the commander of the Athenian hoplites, wasted no time. With the Athenian hoplites drawn up close to the city walls, Iphicrates’s peltasts (light infantry) ran up to the Spartans and let fly with their javelins, killing and wounding several of the Spartan hoplites. The Spartan commander had the shield-bearers, servants who carried the hoplites’ equipment, take the wounded back to Lekhaion. Then he sent out the youngest hoplites in pursuit of the peltasts. It was an impossible task. The peltasts had a head start, and they dashed away as soon as they threw their weapons. When the pursuing hoplites ran out of steam, the peltasts turned back and threw still more javelins. Some ran around to the hoplites’ unshielded right sides and launched their javelins from there, killing several more hoplites.

The furious Spartan leader ordered another pursuit. The peltasts killed more Spartans. By the time the cavalry caught up with the Spartans, they had lost most of the younger, stronger hoplites, who had outdistanced the others and run, literally, into trouble. The return of the cavalry did not help. For some reason they stayed close to the hoplites and did not pursue the peltasts far enough or fast enough. This made the peltasts even bolder. Finally, at a loss, the Spartans made a last stand on a small hill outside Lekhaion.

Those in Lekhaion, seeing the Spartans in trouble, sailed out in small boats until they were opposite the hill. By this time it was all over for the Spartan hoplites. While the Athenian hoplites advanced on them from the front, the unrelenting peltasts struck them down from afar with their sharp javelins. The hoplites broke formation, some managing to reach the sea or get back to Lekhaion. About 250 did not make it at all.

The Peace of Antalcidas

The next year, the Athenians managed to bring Byzantium under their wing. Byzantium controlled the grain route to the Black Sea, and the Athenians taxed every ship that sailed through the Bosporus. The Spartans sent Anaxibias to deal with this matter. The Athenians sent Iphicrates to deal with Anaxibias.

After some initial success, Anaxibias carelessly led his army into an ambush arranged by Iphicrates. His force of mercenaries and allies was marching in column down a long slope when Iphicrates and his peltasts, many of whom had been in the action at Corinth the year before, came out of nowhere. Realizing that his army was about to be destroyed, Anaxibias took his shield from his servant and said that it was all his fault and that the soldiers should save themselves as best they could. His only recourse was to die with honor. Twelve Spartans who stayed with him went down fighting as well.

The Peace of Antalcidas (386 bc) ended the Corinthian War after the king of Persia bankrolled a Spartan fleet, which threatened to blockade Athens into submission. By 375 bc, King Artaxerxes, intending to make war on the Egyptians, decided to help end the Greek civil wars. In this way, Artaxerxes hoped that the Greeks, freed from the civil war at home, would be available to serve him as mercenaries. He sent ambassadors to Greece calling on the cities to put together a common peace. The Greeks, worn out by the unrelenting wars, were glad to cooperate.

Iphicrates Begins His Egyptian Campaign

In the spring of 374, the Persian king set in motion his plan to recapture Egypt. Iphicrates arrived in Asia Minor, where the muster of troops was being held. Persian general Pharnabazus, who had fought Agesilaus during his Asian campaign some 20 years before, was appointed to command the Egyptian expedition. The preparations took more than a year to complete and included the muster of 20,000 Greek mercenaries and 500 ships under the command of Iphicrates. There was also a huge crowd of camp followers accompanying the soldiers.

Athenian general Iphicrates modified the battle gear of his peltasts, shown here wearing lightweight linen instead of bronze armor andcarrying half-moon shields, swords, and javelins.

Iphicrates was impatient over the delay and complained to Pharnabazus, saying that Pharnabazus was quick to speak but slow to act. Pharnabazus responded that he was master of his own words but that the king of Persia was master of his deeds. Finally, at the beginning of the next summer, the expedition set out to re-conquer Egypt. While the huge army marched south, the fleet kept pace, sailing along the coast.

Iphicrates Returns in Disgrace

As they arrived near the Nile delta, they could see that the Egyptians had put to good use the time afforded them by the Persians’ lengthy preparations. The king of Egypt, Nectanebus, learning of the Persian approach, had made great efforts to see that his country was well fortified. Each of the seven mouths of the Nile was protected by a fortified city or town, with towers commanding the harbor entrances. The Pelousion mouth was especially well fortified because it was the first to be encountered by those coming from Syria, and this was the logical approach for the Persian army. Nectanebus had his men fence off the Pelousion with a ditch and wall off the harbors and the landward approaches with earthen embankments.

The Persian generals took one look at the fortifications around Pelousion and decided to try landing somewhere else. The fleet put farther out to sea, sailing out of sight of land so that their movements and direction would not be seen by the enemy. At the Nile mouth, they found a beach large enough to effect a landing. Pharnabazus and Iphicrates disembarked with 3,000 men and made for the walled town at the river’s mouth. The Egyptians met them with an equal number of horse and foot soldiers, and soon a fierce battle was raging. The Persians, reinforced by men from their ships, encircled the Egyptians. Once the battle was truly joined, the Persians landed more men behind the Egyptians to take them in the rear. Many Egyptians were killed or captured, and those left behind were pursued into the town of Memphis.

At this point, things began to sour for the Persians. Iphicrates, learning from captives that Memphis was undefended, advised an immediate attack on the city. Those around Pharnabazus thought it was necessary to wait for the whole force of Persians to arrive on the scene. Iphicrates asked to be allowed to go ahead with his mercenaries, promising to take Memphis with this force alone. The Persians didn’t like this idea, suspecting that he meant to take Egypt for himself. When Pharnabazus refused his request, Iphicrates warned that the refusal would jeopardize the entire campaign.

The Egyptians wasted no time in sending a suitable guard to Memphis and massing their forces against the beachhead. There they mounted an unrelenting attack against the invaders. As Iphicrates had warned, the Persian attack on Egypt was halted dead in its tracks. The fighting around the mouth of the Nile went on until the river began to flood. Rather than spend the winter on hostile soil, the Persians decided to give up their attempt to conquer Egypt and withdrew in disgrace.

Sometime during the voyage back to Asia, the lingering tension between Pharnabazus and Iphicrates came to a head, and Iphicrates seized a ship under cover of darkness and sailed back to Athens. Pharnabazus sent ambassadors to Athens to denounce Iphicrates as being personally responsible for the failure of the Egyptian expedition. The Athenians answered that if they found that Iphicrates had acted unjustly, they would punish him according to their own laws. In the end, nothing was done to him.

The Innovations of Iphicrates

Iphicrates made several modifications to the hoplite panoply, possibly based on things he had seen during his service in Egypt. He did away with the large, round hoplite shield and replaced it with the familiar pelta, the small, half-moon shaped shield of the peltasts. He increased the spear by half-again its length and nearly doubled the size of the sword, while replacing the peltasts’ heavy bronze armor with lighter-weight linen. The son of a shoemaker, he also designed lightweight boots that were easier to untie—ever afterward they were called “Iphicratids.”

These innovations were tested and their efficacy confirmed by use, Iphicrates bragged, but where and when he does not say. They do, however, bear a certain resemblance to the weapons of the Macedonian phalanx, not to be seen yet for another generation but whose appearance would change the course of world history.

Following the death of her husband, Amyrtas III, Eurydice, the mother of Perdiccas and Philip, fled with her sons to Iphicrates for protection. This Philip was the future Philip II of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great. It was perhaps while he was under Iphicrates’s protection that Philip became acquainted with the military reforms that made his host famous throughout antiquity. Philip also spent time as a hostage in Thebes, where he no doubt saw the deepened phalanx and oblique order developed by Epaminondas and realized how effective this formation could be when used in conjunction with the reforms of Iphicrates. He would combine these innovations to develop the famous and virtually unstoppable Macedonian phalanx.

Iphicrates continued to serve his country for another 20 years, leading an expedition that successfully raised the Lacedaemonian siege of Corcyra in 373 bc and, less successfully, taking part in the Social War (357-355 bc), during which he was accused of failing to attack during a severe storm in the Hellespont. Iphicrates paid a fine for his alleged dereliction of duty and afterward lived to a ripe old age. Since none of the ancient sources mentions his death in battle, it is safe to assume that Iphicrates, in contrast to most of his warrior contemporaries, died in bed.

Pharnabazus and Iphicrates’ Egyptian Campaign, 373

We have enough information to reconstruct the second fourth-century Persian attack on Egypt. As planned, Pharnabazus and Iphicrates ferried mercenary troops beyond the Pelusiac branch to the mouth of the Mendesian branch and after amphibious landings seized the Egyptian fortress there. Wishing to secure this base and transport the whole of the Persian force to it before advancing, Pharnabazus rejected Iphicrates’ insistent demands that he be allowed to make a quick attack upriver on Memphis. Continuing landings by Persian forces met stiff Egyptian opposition, but it was the Etesian winds in combination with rising floodwaters which made further landings impossible and compelled Pharnabazus and Iphicrates to withdraw back to the initial camp east of Pelusium. Continuing friction between Pharnabazus and Iphicrates prompted Iphicrates to abandon the campaign and flee to Athens. Lacking an effective commander for the all-important Greek mercenaries, Pharnabazus had no choice but to terminate the whole campaign—just a few months after it began.

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