Arses of Persia

Jump to navigation Jump to search
Another similar coin. Mazaios, Satrap of Cilicia, 361/0-334 BC
Another similar coin. Mazaios, Satrap of Cilicia, 361/0-334 BC

Artaxerxes (Artaxšacā) IV Arses (/ˌɑːrtəˈzɜːrksz/; Old Persian: 𐎠𐎼𐎫𐎧𐏁𐏂 Artaxšaçā), was Great King of Persia between 338 BC and 336 BC. He is known as Arses in Greek sources and that seems to have been his real name but the Xanthus trilingue and potsherds from Samaria report that he took the royal name of Artaxerxes IV, following his father and grandfather.

Elevation and reign[edit]

As the youngest son of King Artaxerxes III and Atossa, Arses was not expected to succeed to the throne of Persia. His unexpected rise to the throne came in 338 BC as a result of the murder of his father and most of his family by Bagoas, the powerful Vizier of Persia who had recently fallen into disfavor with Artaxerxes. Bagoas sought to remain in office by replacing Artaxerxes with his son Arses (Artaxerxes IV), whom he thought easier to control. Arses remained little more than a puppet-king during the two years of his reign, while Bagoas acted as the real power behind the throne. A major concern for Persia during this King's short reign were hostilities on the western borders with Macedonia under Kings Philip II of Macedon and Alexander the Great. This became a war of conquest by Alexander during the reign of Arses' successor Darius III.


According to Greek sources, Arses eventually started planning Bagoas' murder, disgruntled by his dependence on the Vizier and possibly influenced by the nobles of the Royal Court, who generally held Bagoas in contempt. The Vizier again acted first in order to protect himself and managed to poison Arses. Bagoas then raised a cousin of Arses to the throne as Darius III. However, a cuneiform tablet in the British Museum (BM 71537) suggests that Arses died from natural causes.[2]


Arses is a Greek rendering of an old Persian name. The Iranian form is attested in Avestan Aršan- (etymologically related to Greek arsēn "male, manly") and in old Persian it is preserved in Aršaka and Aršāma.[3]


  1. ^ CNG: CILICIA, Myriandros. Mazaios. Satrap of Cilicia, 361/0-334 BC. AR Obol (10mm, 0.64 g).
  2. ^ "Artaxerxes IV Arses". Retrieved 2017-05-16.
  3. ^ Lecoq, P. "Arses". Encyclopedia Iranica. p. 548.

External links[edit]

Arses of Persia
Born: ?? Died: 336 BC
Preceded by
Artaxerxes III
Great King (Shah) of Persia
338 BC – 336 BC
Succeeded by
Darius III
Pharaoh of Egypt
XXXI Dynasty
338 BC – 336 BC