Thursday, 12 May 2011
The Persian Kings tend to be seen through the eyes of the Greek historians - generally as rather effete and luxury loving despots. Yet Xenophon praises many achievements and habits of the Persians which shows the rather ambivalent attitude which existed.
There were various revolts by territories of the Empire against the central authority - the most successful being the Egyptians who maintained their independence through much of the century. One of Artaxerxes's attempts to regain control was led by Pharnabazus supported by the Greek Iphikrates, though the campaign failed due partly to disagreement by the two men.
Artaxerxes III regained control of Egypt, taking two campaigns to do so. Diodorus says that he and most of his sons were murdered by the eunuch Bagoas. The sole survivor was elevated to the throne as Artaxerxes IV but he too was removed and replaced by the man who assumed the name Darius III.
Darius was probably a case of a man having greatness thrust upon him and he doesn't seem to have been up to the job. Perhaps if he'd had time he might have made a better showing but he was up against Alexander the Great.
It was traditional for Persian kings to be depicted in a chariot, such as this seal. Note the position of the axle. Some other depictions seem to indicate a further forward axle though there has been a lot of online discussion about this.
The studs on the wheels are very noticeable though the 'Alexander Mosaic' may overexaggerate them, producing what this blog terms the marshmallow wheels.
The studs doubtless help traction but also help to fix the tyre in place. Sections of tyre have been found, including the nails, and could be bronze shaped around the wheel in a U shape rather than a shrunk on iron tyre.