DARIUS iv. Darius II




Darius II was the sixth Achaemenid king of kings (r. February 423- March 403 B.C.E.). He had been satrap of Hyrcania. Darius was his throne name; his given name is reported in classical sources as Ochus (Babylonian Ú-ma-kušor Ú-ma-su; Stolper, p. 115). The Old Persian name may have been either *Vauka (Schmitt, 1977, pp. 422-23; idem, 1982, p. 84) or *Va(h)uš (cf. Stolper, p. 115). His father was Artaxerxes I (465-25 B.C.E.), his mother a Babylonian. Greek authors therefore considered him a bastard (Gk. nóthos), though this epithet appeared rather late (Pausanias, 6.5.7). According to Ctesias (Jacoby, Fragmente 688 frag. 15.47-51), Darius II ascended the throne after the short reigns of two of his half-brothers, Xerxes II (425-24) and Sogdianus (or Sekyndianus; 424). In the dating formulas of the Babylonian business documents, however, these kings are not mentioned, and Darius II directly succeeds Artaxerxes I. The struggle for the throne probably took place during the first years of Darius’ reign, rather than before it, as Greek authors have it (cf. Ctesias, in Jacoby, Fragmente 688 frag. 15.47-49; Diodorus, 11.69.6, 12.7.1, 12.64.1). Its effects appear to be reflected in the archive of the Babylonian banking family the Murašūs: In the second year of the reign of Darius II Ochus there was an increase in the number of mortgages, possibly resulting from the fiscal and military demands of his first year (Stolper, pp. 122-23). The names of those who supported Sogdianus and Darius given by Ctesias are confirmed in these cuneiform documents (Stolper, p. 116); these names include that of Parysatis, Darius’ wife and half-sister. In discussionss of her presumed pernicious influence at court (e.g., Olmstead, pp. 356, 364; Cook, p. 135) little account is taken of her wealth and landholdings, as they appear in the Murašū tablets.

Iranian evidence for the rule of Darius II is scarce; all his inscriptions refer to building activities. He built at Susa (cf. Kent, Old Persian, p. 154, D2Sa, D2Sb, both fragmentary; but cf. Lewis, p. 78, for mention of an unpublished inscription, presumably from Hamadān), and one of the three anepigraphic tombs at Naqš-e Rostam is ascribed to him; he was the last Achaemenid to be buried there.

Darius’ reign was conspicuous for frequent revolts, led partly by satraps who had acquired a power base in regions where their families had ruled for generations. Ctesias mentioned a revolt by Darius’ full brother Arsites, assisted by Artyphios, son of the satrap Megabyzus, who had mounted a revolt during Artaxerxes’ reign. The revolt of the satrap Pissoúthnēs at Sardis was crushed by Tissaphernes (see ČIΘRAFARNAH), probably in 422 (cf. Ctesias, in Jacoby, Fragmente 688 frag. 15.53), who bribed Pissoúthnēs’ Greek mercenary troops to abandon their commander. Tissaphernes’ sojourn in Asia Minor signaled the start of intensified Persian interference in Greek affairs during the Peloponnesian war. The Paphlagonian eunuch Artoxares, who had once helped Darius to become king, also attempted a coup at an uncertain date (Ctesias, in Jacoby, Fragmente 688 frag. 15.54). In addition, the novelistic tale of the insubordination of Teritouchmes, married to a daughter of Darius II, may well mask a more serious threat to the throne (Ctesias, in Jacoby, Fragmente 688 frag. 15.55-56). There is evidence of trouble in Egypt in 410 B.C.E., prelude to a successful revolt in 404 (on its origins, cf. Briant, pp. 138 ff.; Ray, 1987; idem, 1988). Finally, in the heart of the empire the crushing of a Median revolt (Xenophon, Hellenica 1.11.19) was followed by a campaign against the Cadusii

(Gk. Kadoúsioi).

Darius II died in 404 in Babylon (Ctesias, in Jacoby, Fragmente 688 frag. 16.57). He was survived by Parysatis, who supported her younger son, Cyrus the Younger (see CYRUS vi), in his well-known rebellion against his full brother Artaxerxes II (405-359), reported by Xenophon in the first book of his Anabasis. Dependence on Greek sources, notably Ctesias (Sancisi-Weerdenburg, pp. 34 ff.), and the virtual absence of Near Eastern documentation seriously biases current views on the reign of Darius II.



P. Briant, “Ethno-classe dominante et populations soumises dans l’empire achéménide. Le cas d’Égypte,” in A. Kuhrt and H. Sancisi-Weerdenburg, eds., Achaemenid History III. Method and Theory, Leiden, 1988, pp. 137-74.

J. M. Cook, The Persian Empire, London, 1983.

M. A. Dandamaev (Dandamayev), A Political History of the Achaemenid Empire, tr. W. J. Vogelsang, Leiden, 1989, pp. 258-73.

Idem, Iranians in Achaemenid Babylonia, Costa Mesa, Calif., 1992, pp. 115-16.

A. Kuhrt, “Survey of Written Sources Available for the History of Babylonia under the Later Achaemenids,” in H. Sancisi-Weerdenburg, ed., Achaemenid History I. Sources, Structures and Synthesis, Leiden, 1987, pp. 147-58.

D. M. Lewis, Sparta and Persia, Leiden, 1977.

A. T. Olmstead, The History of the Persian Empire, Chicago, 1948.

J. D. Ray, “Egypt. Dependence and Independence (425-343 B.C.),” in H. Sancisi-Weerdenburg, ed., Achaemenid History I. Sources, Structures and Synthesis, Leiden, 1987, pp. 79-95.

Idem, “Egypt 525-404 B.C.,” in CAH2 IV, pp. 254-86.

A. Sachs, “Achaemenid Royal Names in Babylonian Astronomical Texts,” American Journal of Ancient History 2, 1977, pp. 129-47.

H. Sancisi-Weerdenburg, “Decadence in the Empire or Decadence in the Sources? From Source to Synthesis: Ctesias,” in H. Sancisi-Weerdenburg, ed., Achae-menid History I. Sources, Structures and Synthesis, Leiden, 1987, pp. 33-45.

R. Schmitt, “Thronnamen bei den Achaimeniden,” BNF, N.F. 12, 1977, pp. 422-25.

Idem, “Achaemenid Throne-names,” AION 42, 1982, pp. 85-95.

M. W. Stolper, Entrepreneurs and Empire. The Murašû Archive, the Murašû Firm and Persian Rule in Babylonia, Leiden, 1985.

(Heleen Sanchisi-Weerdenburg)

Originally Published: December 15, 1994

Last Updated: November 17, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. VII, Fasc. 1, pp. 50-51

Cite this entry:

Heleen Sanchisi-Weerdenburg, “DARIUS iv. Darius II,” Encyclopaedia Iranica, VII/1, pp. 50-51, available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/darius-iv (accessed on 30 December 2012).