DARIUS vi. Achaemenid Princes




Darius was the name of two Achaemenid princes in addition to the emperors who bore it.

Eldest son of Xerxes I (486-65 B.C.E.). This Darius was born of Amestris and was thus the brother of Hystaspes, Artaxerxes I, Amytis, and Rhodogune (Ctesias, in Jacoby, Fragmente III.C, p. 462 frag. 13 par. 24; Diodorus, 11.69.2). After the battle of Mycale in 479 B.C.E. Xerxes married Darius to Artaynte, daughter of his brother Masistes and his wife, whom he loved himself (Herodotus 9.108.1-2). In 465-64 Darius was linked to the assassination of Xerxes and also himself fell a victim in the ensuing events, though details of this court revolution are not entirely clear from the sources. According to contemporary opinion, as represented by Ctesias (in Jacoby, Fragmente III.C, p. 464 frags. 13-14 pars. 33-34), Diodorus Siculus (11.69.1-5), and Justin (3.1.1-5), who differed only slightly in their accounts, Xerxes was murdered by Artabanus (2; Ctesias: Artapanus, probably the correct form), the chief of his bodyguards, and some other confidants, whose identities vary in the sources. Artapanus then went to the king’s younger son Artaxerxes and accused Darius of the murder; Artaxerxes decided to kill Darius before he could seize the throne. Artapanus’ plan to take power for himself failed, however, as the truth came to light at last. A totally different version of these events was given by Aristotle (Politica 1311b.36 ff.), who reported that Artapanes (sic) first killed Darius without royal orders, then murdered Xerxes for fear of the king’s vengeance.


T. Nöldeke, Aufsätze zur persischen Geschichte, Leipzig, 1887, p. 49.

[H.] Swoboda, “Dareios 4,” in Pauly-Wissowa IV/2, col. 2211.


Son of Artaxerxes II (405-359 B.C.E.). Artaxerxes II designated Darius, his son by Stateira (Plutarch, Artoxerxes 26.1) and already fifty years old, as coruler and successor, in order to avoid riot and war between his legitimate sons, comparable to the quarrels at his own accession. Artaxerxes’ second wife, Atossa, however, favored Darius’ younger brother Ochus, who was of a brutal and impetuous character (Plutarch, Artoxerxes 26.2-4; cf. Justin 10.1.2-3). On the occasion of his appointment Darius asked his father for the gift of Aspasia, a beautiful woman of Phocean birth, who had come into the harem of Cyrus the Younger and then of Artaxerxes, who esteemed and loved her greatly (Plutarch, Artoxerxes 26.5-27.3; Justin, 10.2.1-6). According to an ancient custom, the king was required to give her to his son, but not much later he appointed her priestess of Anaitis (see ANĀHĪD ii) in Ecbatana, thus effectively taking her away from him (Plutarch, Artoxerxes 27.4). In his irritation and fear of a change in the succession and incited by a certain Tiribazus (perhaps the famous satrap of Armenia and then of Lydia), Darius plotted against his father (Plutarch, Artoxerxes 27.5-28.5; cf. Justin 10.2.5). The conspiracy was exposed by a eunuch, and Darius was unanimously sentenced to death by the royal judges and executed (Plutarch, Artoxerxes 29.1, 29.8-10). The chronology of these events cannot be ascertained precisely; they are commonly dated to 362 or 361 B.C.E. (on the basis of which Darius’ birth date is given as ca. 412 B.C.E.), but this date is far from convincing. It is not even certain that the events unfolded in immediate succession. Darius’ son Arbupales was one of the Persian leaders killed at the battle of Granicus in 334 B.C.E.


A. T. Olmstead, History of the Persian Empire, Chicago, 1948, p. 424.

[H.] Swoboda, “Darius 5,” in Pauly-Wissowa IV/2, col. 2211.

(Rudiger Schmitt)

Originally Published: December 15, 1994

Last Updated: November 17, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. VI, Fasc. 1, pp. 54-55

Cite this entry:

Rudiger Schmitt, “DARIUS vi. Achaemenid Princes,” Encyclopaedia Iranica, VI/1, pp. 54-55, available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/darius-vi (accessed on 30 December 2012).