Artaxerxes I of Persia  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Artaxerxes I was king of the Persian Empire from 474 BC to 424 BC. He belonged to the Achaemenid dynasty and was the successor of Xerxes I. His surname Longimanus is attributed to, according to Plutarch, "his right hand being longer than his left."[1] The name is mentioned in the Bible, Ezra and Nehemiah. He allowed the Jews to rebuild Jerusalem. He was followed on the throne by his son Xerxes II.

There is some disagreement in historical writings with regard to the reigns of Xerxes and of Artaxerxes. Reference works place Artaxerxes’ accession year in 465 B.C.E. Certain documents give to his father, Xerxes, a reign that continued into the 21st year. Xerxes’ rule is customarily counted from 486 B.C.E., when Darius, his father, died. His own first regnal year is viewed as having started in 485 B.C.E., and his 21st year and the accession year of Artaxerxes are often said to have been 465 B.C.E. As for Artaxerxes, scholars usually say that his last year of rule began in 424 B.C.E. Some documents present that as year 41 of Artaxerxes’ reign. If that were correct, it would mean that his accession year was in 465 B.C.E. and that his first regnal year began in 464 B.C.E.

However, there is strong evidence for calculating the last year of Xerxes and the accession year of Artaxerxes as being 475 B.C.E. This evidence is threefold: from Greek sources, from Persian sources, and from Babylonian sources.

The name as given is the Greek form; the Persian form is Artakhshathra. He was later called Ardeshir.

After Persia had been defeated at Eurymedon, military action between Greece and Persia had come to a standstill. When Artaxerxes I took power, he began a new tradition of drawing off the Athenians by funding their enemies in Greece. This indirectly caused the Athenians to move the treasury of the Delian League from the island of Delos to the Athenian acropolis. This funding practice inevitably prompted renewed fighting in 450 BC, where the Greeks attacked at the Battle of Cyprus. After Cimon's failure to attain much in this expedition, "The Peace of Callias" was agreed between Athens, Argos and Persia in 449.

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