ARIAEUS, Latinized form (from Greek Ariaîos) of an Old Persian name compounded of arya- “Iranian” with a suffix -ai- (cf. Gk. Mitraios, Tiraios, Bagaios), probably used hypocoristically for a name such as Ariyaramana, Ariobarzanes, etc. (Th. Nöldeke, “Persische Studien,” Sb. der kön. Akademie der Wiss., hist.-philos. K1., 116, 1888, pp. 413f.). The most celebrated bearer of the name was a military commander of Darius II who after the accession of Artaxerxes II and the rebellion of Cyrus the Younger sided with the latter and led his Asiatic contingents (Xenophon, Anabasis 1.8.5, 9.31; Diodorus 14.22.5, 24.1). At the battle of Cunaxa, Ariaeus commanded the left wing of Cyrus’ army (Xenophon, 1.8.5; Diodorus, loc. cit.) allegedly composed of 70,000 (Diodorus 14.19.7) or 100,000 (Xenophon, Anabasis 1.7.10) footsoldiers; but such Greek estimates for Persian forces are exaggerations (C. Hignett, Xerxes’ Invasion of Greece, Oxford, 1963, p. 151). Since Cyrus relied mainly on his right wing, composed of 13,000 Greek mercenaries, his left wing under Ariaeus could not have numbered more than 10,000 men (A. Sh. Shahbazi, Yak šāhzāda-ye haḵāmanešī, Tehran, 1350 Š./1971, p. 123). These consisted of infantry supported by 1,000 horsemen on the left (Diodorus 14.22.5). The battle was mainly conducted by the Greeks engaging and defeating the forces of Artaxerxes, but Cyrus was killed when attacking his brother in person; by then Ariaeus was leading his horsemen (Xenophon, Anabasis 1.9.31). These were attacked by Artaxerxes’ troops; Ariaeus was wounded and forced to flee to his camp (ibid., 1.10.1; 2.2.14). He offered to lead the Greeks back to Ionia, but regarding themselves as victors, the mercenary leaders—now under the Spartan Clearchus—tried to induce Ariaeus to take up Cyrus’ cause and promised to serve him in a bid for the Achaemenid throne (ibid., 2.1.1-4). Refusing, Ariaeus argued that “there were many Persians of higher rank than himself and they would not tolerate his being king” (ibid., 2.2.1 ). But the fact that he was not of the royal blood must have contributed to his refusal of the Greek offer of aid. On his part, in a council of war with Clearchus and other senior Greek leaders, he proposed a hasty retreat through the fertile provinces of Asia Minor, where provisions were plentiful. His plan was adopted and so began the famous anabasis “the march upland” of the Ten Thousand (ibid., 2.2.1-18; Diodorus 14.24.6).

Artaxerxes soon offered amnesty to Cyrus’ troops, promising his generals rich rewards if they joined him; many did, including Ariaeus, who even helped Tissaphernes—the victor of Cunaxa—to trap and destroy Clearchus and some of the mercenary leaders (Xenophon, Anabasis 2.4.1ff., 5.27f., 35-42; Oeconomicus 4.19; Diodorus 14.26.3-7; cf. Ctesias apud Plutarch, Artoxares 18). As a reward, Ariaeus appears to have received the governorship of a region, perhaps Phrygia (Judeich in Pauly-Wissowa, II/1, col. 811). We next hear of him in connection with the murder of Tissaphernes: having fallen out of favor, he was executed by Tithraustes, commander of the royal bodyguard sent for the purpose, and Ariaeus in 395 at Colossae (Diodorus 14.80.3; Polyaenus 7.16.1). The Ariaeus who rose against Artaxerxes at Sardis a year later (Xenophon, Hellenica 4.1.27; Plutarch, Agesilaeus 11.4) is evidently the same general who served Cyrus and Artaxerxes (Judeich, loc. cit.); possibly he had become disappointed in seeing Artaxerxes’ ablest and most faithful commander destroyed in so contemptible a manner.

Ariaeus is mainly known through Xenophon’s account of the battle of Cunaxa, but the Greek disliked him and judged him harshly. That he “was most highly honored by Cyrus” (Xenophon, Anabasis 3.2.5) suggests a decisive and militarily experienced man. His going over to Artaxerxes did not constitute treachery, because Cyrus’ cause was lost and there was no Persian opposition to Artaxerxes.

Bibliography: Given in the text.

(A. Sh. Shahbazi)

Originally Published: December 15, 1986

Last Updated: August 12, 2011

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Vol. II, Fasc. 4, pp. 405-406