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Ancient Tyranny$
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Sian Lewis

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780748621255

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748621255.001.0001

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The politics of Persian autocracy, 424–334 BC

The politics of Persian autocracy, 424–334 BC

(p.224) Chapter 16 The politics of Persian autocracy, 424–334 BC
Ancient Tyranny

Stephen Ruzicka

Edinburgh University Press

Is there a story of Persian politics in the fourth century BC that can be reconstructed? If so, how does it illuminate other events? Another way to put this is to ask: does Persian autocracy have a history? More specifically, does it have a distinctive fourth-century history? We may be encouraged that we are dealing only with the equivalent of two and a half kingships in the fourth century; subtract the ephemeral reign of Arses/Artaxerxes IV and the brief, beleaguered reign of Darius III, and we are down to just two — those of Artaxerxes II and his son Artaxerxes III. This chapter looks at the kings of Persia, the ultimate autocrats of antiquity, from Darius II to Artaxerxes III and exposes the limitations of their power, identifying a cycle whereby the king's insecurity led to a dearth of trustworthy commanders. Kings thus turned to non-Persians to command their military campaigns, weakening their own power.

Keywords:   Persia, politics, autocracy, history, kings, Darius II, Artaxerxes III, commanders, military campaigns

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