Pharnacid Dynasty > Artabazus



Artabazus, also known in Greek as Αρτάβαζος was a Phrygian satrap of the Achaemenid Empire between 389 BCE and 329 BCE. He was the son of the previous satrap of Phyrgia named Pharnabazus and was also the brother or nephew of Ariobarzanes II of Cius who was responsible for causing a revolt against Artaxerxes II Mnemnon around 366 BCE.

In 362 BCE Artabazus was sent by Artaxerxes II to capture the satrap of Cappadocia named Datames who had rebelled against Persian rule. However Artabaxus was defeated by Datames who had allied with his brother Ariobarzanes in a revolution against the Achaemenids. Following the capture and death of his brother Artabazus was made the satrap of Phrygia until 356 BCE.

Artabazus was a prominent Persian noble and military commander who served the Achaemenid Empire during the 5th and 4th centuries BCE. Known for his loyalty to the Persian kings and his significant military and political roles, Artabazus' career spanned several key conflicts and transitions within the empire. Artabazus belonged to the prestigious Pharnacid family, which held significant influence within the Achaemenid Empire. The Pharnacids were known for their loyalty and service to the Persian throne. He was the son of Pharnaces, an earlier satrap of Hellespontine Phrygia, a strategically important region in northwestern Asia Minor.

Artabazus is first prominently mentioned during the reign of Xerxes I. He played a crucial role in the Greco-Persian Wars, particularly during the Persian invasion of Greece. He commanded a contingent of Persian troops at the Battle of Plataea in 479 BCE, a decisive conflict in which the Greek forces secured a significant victory against the Persians. Following the defeat, Artabazus successfully led his troops in a strategic retreat back to Asia Minor, demonstrating his military acumen.

Satrap of Hellespontine Phrygia:

After the Greco-Persian Wars, Artabazus succeeded his father as the satrap of Hellespontine Phrygia. This region was critical for controlling the passage between Asia and Europe and for maintaining Persian influence over the Greek city-states on the western coast of Asia Minor. As satrap, Artabazus oversaw administrative duties, collected tribute, and maintained order in his satrapy. His tenure was marked by efforts to strengthen Persian control and influence in the area.

Rebellion against Artaxerxes II:

In the early 4th century BCE, during the reign of Artaxerxes II, Artabazus participated in the satraps' revolt (366-360 BCE), a significant rebellion by several Persian satraps against the central authority of the king. This rebellion was driven by dissatisfaction with the central government's policies and a desire for greater autonomy. Despite initial successes, the rebellion ultimately failed, and Artabazus was forced to flee. He sought refuge with Philip II of Macedon, indicating his willingness to engage with emerging powers to secure his position.

Artabazus later reconciled with Artaxerxes II and was restored to favor. His ability to navigate the complex political landscape of the Achaemenid Empire and regain his position reflects his diplomatic skill and resilience. He continued to serve the Persian Empire under Artaxerxes III and played a role in subsequent military campaigns.


Artabazus' legacy includes his role in significant military and political events of his time. His actions during the Greco-Persian Wars and the satraps' revolt were notable episodes in the history of the Achaemenid Empire. He was the father of several prominent children, including Pharnabazus III, who continued the family's tradition of service to the Persian Empire, and Barsine, who was notably involved with Alexander the Great.

Artabazus is remembered for his strategic military leadership, administrative capabilities, and his role in the political dynamics of the Achaemenid Empire. His career illustrates the challenges and complexities faced by Persian nobles during a period of significant transition and conflict. His interactions with both Persian and emerging Macedonian powers highlight the broader geopolitical shifts occurring during his lifetime.

In summary, Artabazus was a key Persian noble and military commander whose career spanned several critical periods in the Achaemenid Empire. His military prowess, political maneuvers, and the legacy of his descendants underscore his importance in the history of the Persian Empire and its interactions with the Greek world.

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