People > Oxyathres of Persia

Oxyathres of Persia


Oxyathres (in Greek Oξυαθρης; in Old Persian Vaxšuvarda; lived 4th century BC) was a brother of the Persian king Darius III Codomannus. He was distinguished for his bravery, and in the battle of Issus, 333 BC, took a prominent part in the combat in defence of the king, when attacked by the Macedonian cavalry under Alexander himself, as shown in the celebrated Alexander Mosaic found in Pompeii. He afterwards accompanied Darius on his flight into Bactria, and fell into the hands of Alexander during the pursuit, but was treated with the utmost distinction by the conqueror, who even assigned him an honourable post about his own person; and subsequently devolved upon him the task of punishing Bessus for the murder of Darius. He was the father of Amastris queen of Heraclea.

Oxyathres, also spelled as Oxathres, was a notable figure in the Achaemenid Persian Empire during the 4th century BCE. He was a member of the ruling Achaemenid dynasty and played a significant role in the political and military affairs of the empire. Oxyathres was a member of the Achaemenid royal family, which ruled over the Persian Empire from approximately 550 BCE to 330 BCE. The Achaemenids were one of the most influential dynasties in ancient history, known for their vast territorial holdings and centralized administration.

Oxyathres is perhaps best known for being the brother of Darius III, who ascended to the Persian throne in 336 BCE following the death of Artaxerxes III.As the brother of the king, Oxyathres held a position of considerable influence within the Achaemenid court and likely played a role in advising and supporting his brother's rule. Oxyathres participated in the military campaigns against Alexander the Great, who launched his invasion of the Persian Empire in 334 BCE.He fought alongside his brother Darius III in several key battles, including the Battle of Issus in 333 BCE and the Battle of Gaugamela in 331 BCE, where Alexander decisively defeated the Persian forces.

Following the defeat of Darius III and the collapse of Persian resistance against Alexander's army, Oxyathres and his brother found themselves on the losing side of the conflict. Despite their efforts, they were unable to prevent the disintegration of the Achaemenid Empire under Alexander's conquests. After the Battle of Gaugamela, Oxyathres and Darius III were pursued by Alexander's forces. Eventually, they were captured, and Darius III was assassinated by one of his own satraps. Oxyathres surrendered to Alexander and was subsequently treated with relative leniency compared to other Persian nobles.

Oxyathres's participation in the final stages of the Persian resistance against Alexander the Great symbolizes the decline and fall of the Achaemenid Empire.His surrender marked the end of Persian rule and paved the way for the establishment of Alexander's empire, which would reshape the geopolitical landscape of the ancient world.

Oxyathres, as a member of the Achaemenid royal family and the brother of Darius III, played a significant role in the final years of the Persian Empire. His involvement in the military campaigns against Alexander the Great and his subsequent surrender to the Macedonian conqueror reflect the tumultuous period of transition from Persian to Hellenistic rule in the Near East. While his individual actions may not have altered the course of history, Oxyathres remains a notable figure in the narrative of the Achaemenid Empire's decline and the rise of Alexander's empire.

Battle of Issus

A description of Oxyathres at the Battle of Issus:

His brother, Oxyathres, saw Alexander bearing down on Darius and moved the cavalry under his command right in front of the king's chariot. Oxyathres far surpassed his comrades in the splendour of his arms and in physical strength, and very few could match his courage and devotion to Darius. In that engagement especially he won distinction by cutting down some Macedonians who were recklessly thrusting ahead and putting others to flight.

— Quintius Curtius Rufus, 3.11.8


Primary Sources

Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca, xvii. 34; Curtius Rufus, Historiae Alexandri Magni, iii. 11

Diodorus, xvii. 77; Curtius, vi. 2, vii. 5; Plutarch, Parallel Lives, "Alexander", 43

Memnon, History of Heracleia, 4; Arrian, Anabasis Alexandri, vii. 4; Strabo, Geography, xii. 3; Stephanus of Byzantium, Ethnica, s.v. "Amastris"

Secondary Sources

Smith, William (editor); Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, "Oxathres (2)", Boston, (1867)

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