Arses of Persia

This article is about a king of Persia. For other uses, see Arses (disambiguation).

Artaxerxes (Artaxšacā) IV Arses (Persian: اردشيرچهارم) (Old Persian: ), was king of Persia between 338 BC and 336 BC. He was the youngest son of King Artaxerxes III and Atossa and was not expected to succeed to the throne of Persia. His unexpected rise to the throne came in 338 BC as a result of the murder of his father and most of his family by Bagoas, the powerful Vizier of Persia who had recently fallen into disfavor with Artaxerxes. Bagoas sought to remain in office by replacing Artaxerxes with his son Arses (Artaxerxes IV), whom he thought easier to control. Arses remained little more than a puppet-king during the two years of his reign, while Bagoas acted as the real power behind the throne. Eventually, disgruntled by this state of affairs and possibly influenced by the nobles of the Royal Court, who generally held Bagoas in contempt, Arses started planning Bagoas' murder. The Vizier again acted first in order to protect himself and managed to poison Arses. Bagoas then raised a cousin of Arses to the throne as King Darius III of Persia. A major concern for Persia during this King's short reign were hostilities on the western borders with Macedonia under Kings Philip II of Macedon and Alexander the Great. This would lead to war between the two states during the reign of Arses' successor.

He is known as Arses in Greek sources and that seems to be his real name but the Xanthus trilingue and potsherds from Samaria report that he had taken the royal name of Artaxerxes IV, following his father and grandfather.


Arses is a Greek rendering of an old Persian name. The Iranian form is attested in Avestan Aršan- (etymologically related to Greek arsēn "male, manly") and in old Persian it is preserved in Aršaka and Aršāma.[1]


  1. Lecoq, P. "Arses". Encyclopedia Iranica. p. 548.

External links

Arses of Persia
Born: ?? Died: 336 BC
Preceded by
Artaxerxes III
Great King (Shah) of Persia
338 BC 336 BC
Succeeded by
Darius III
Pharaoh of Egypt
XXXI Dynasty
338 BC 336 BC
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