Photius' Excerpt of Ctesias' Persica

Ctesias was a Greek physician who stayed at the court of the Persian king Artaxerxes II Mnemon from 404 to 398/397. He wrote several books about Persia and India. They are now lost but were quoted by ancient authors; consequently, we are able to judge their value as history (low) and as works of art (entertaining).

The following text is the first part of an excerpt from the Persica by the Byzantine scholar Photius (c.815-897). The translation was made by J.H. Freese and was found at Tertullian.Org.       


Photius' Excerpt of Ctesias' Persica

[Pr] Read the Persica of Ctesias of Cnidus in twenty-three books.

In the first six he treats of Assyrian affairs and of events before the foundation of the Persian empire, and only begins to treat of Persian affairs in the seventh book.

In books 7-13 he gives an account of Cyrus, Cambyses, the Magian,note Darius, and Xerxes, in which he differs almost entirely from Herodotus, whom he accuses of falsehood in many passages and calls an inventor of fables. Ctesias is later than Herodotus, and says that he was an eyewitness of most of what he describes, and that, where this was not the case, he obtained his information directly from Persians, and in this manner he composed his history. He not only disagrees with Herodotus, but also in some respects with Xenophon the son of Gryllus. Ctesias flourished in the time of Cyrus, son of Dariusnote and Parysatis, brother of Artaxerxesnote who succeeded to the throne.       

[1] He begins by stating that Astyages (whom he also calls Astyigas) was not related to Cyrus; that he fled from him to Ecbatana and hid himself in the vaults of the royal palace with the aid of his daughter Amytis and her husband Spitamas; that Cyrus, when he came to the throne, gave orders that not only Spitamas and Amytis, but also their sons Spitaces and Megabernes should be put to the torture for assisting Astyigas; that the latter, to save his grandchildren from being tortured on his account, gave himself up and was taken and loaded with chains by Oebares; that shortly afterwards he was set free by Cyrus and honored as his father; that his daughter Amytis was treated by him as a mother and afterwards became his wife. Her husband Spitamas, however, was put to death, because, when asked, he had falsely declared that he did not know where Astyigas was. In his account of these events Ctesias differs from Herodotus.

[2] He adds that Cyrus made war upon the Bactrians, without obtaining a decisive victory; but that when they learnt that Astyigas had been adopted by Cyrus as his father, and Amytis as his mother and wife, they voluntarily submitted to Amytis and Cyrus.

[3] He also relates how Cyrus made war on the Sacae, and took prisoner their king Amorges, the husband of Sparethra, who after her husband was captured collected an army of 300,000 men and 200,000 women, made war upon Cyrus and defeated him. Amongst the large number of prisoners taken by the Sacae were Parmises, the brother of Amytis, and his three sons, who were subsequently released in exchange for Amorges.

[4] Cyrus, assisted by Amorges, marched against Croesus and the city of Sardes. By the advice of Oebaras he set up wooden figures representing Persians round the walls, the sight of which so terrified the inhabitants that the city was easily taken.

Before this, the son of Croesus was handed over as a hostage, the king himself having been deceived by a divine vision. Since Croesus was evidently meditating treachery, his son was put to death before his eyes; his mother, who was a witness of his execution, committed suicide by throwing herself from the walls.       

[5] After the city was taken Croesus fled for refuge to the temple of Apollo; he was three times put in chains, and three times loosed invisibly from his bonds, although the temple was shut and sealed, and Oebaras was on guard. Those who had been prisoners with Croesus had their heads cut off, on suspicion of having conspired to release him. He was subsequently taken to the palace and bound more securely, but was again loosed by thunder and lightning sent from heaven. Finally Cyrus, against his will, set him free, treated him kindly from that time, and bestowed upon him a large city near Ecbatana, named Barene, in which there were 5000 horsemen and 10,000 peltasts, javelin-throwers, and archers.

[6] Cyrus then sent Petisacas the eunuch, who had great influence with him, to Persia to fetch Astyigas from the Barcanians, he and his daughter Amytis being anxious to see him. Oebaras then advised Petisacas to leave Astyigas in some lonely spot, to perish of hunger and thirst; which he did. But the crime was revealed in a dream, and Petisacas, at the urgent request of Amytis, was handed over to her by Cyrus for punishment. She ordered his eyes to be dug out, had him flayed alive, and then crucified. Oebaras, afraid of suffering the same punishment, although Cyrus assured him that he would not allow it, starved himself to death by fasting for ten days. Astyigas was accorded a splendid funeral; his body had remained untouched by wild beasts in the wilder-ness, some lions having guarded it until it was removed by Petisacas.

[7] Cyrus marched against the Derbices, whose king was Amoraeus. The Derbices suddenly brought up some elephants which had been kept in ambush, and put Cyrus' cavalry to flight. Cyrus himself fell from his horse, and an Indian wounded him mortally with a javelin under the thigh. The Indians fought on the side of the Derbices and supplied them with elephants. Cyrus' friends took him up while he was still alive and returned to camp. Many Persians and Derbices were slain, to the number of 10,000 on each side.

Amorges, when he heard of what had happened to Cyrus, in great haste went to the assistance of the Persians with 20,000 Sacan cavalry. In a subsequent engagement, the Persians and Sacae gained a brilliant victory, Amoraeus, the king of the Derbices, and his two sons being slain. Thirty thousand Derbicans and 9,000 Persians fell in the battle. The country then submitted to Cyrus.       

[8] Cyrus, when near his death, declared his elder son Cambyses king, his younger son Tanyoxarces governor of Bactria, Chorasmia, Parthia, and Carmania, free from tribute. Of the children of Spitamas, he appointed Spitaces satrap of the Derbices, Megabernes of the Barcanians, bidding them obey their mother in everything. He also endeavored to make them friends with Amorges, bestowing his blessing on those who should remain on friendly terms with one another, and a curse upon those who first did wrong. With these words he died, three days after he had been wounded, after a reign of thirty years. This is the end of the eleventh book.

[9] The twelfth book begins with the reign of Cambyses. Immediately after his accession he sent his father's body by the eunuch Bagapates to Persia for burial, and in all other respects carried out his father's wishes. The men who had the greatest influence with him were Artasyras the Hyrcanian, and the eunuchs Izabates, Aspadates, and Bagapates, who had been his father's favorite after the death of Petisacas.

[10] Bagapates was in command of the expedition against Egypt and its king Amyrtaeus, whom he defeated, through the treachery of his chief counselor Combaphis the eunuch, who betrayed the bridges and other important secrets, on condition that Cambyses made him governor of Egypt. Cambyses first made this arrangement with him through Izabates, the cousin of Combaphis, and afterwards confirmed it by his personal promise. Having taken Amyrtaeus alive he did him no harm, but merely removed him to Susa with 6000 Egyptians chosen by himself. The whole of Egypt then became subject to Cambyses. The Egyptians lost 50,000 men in the battle, the Persians 7000.

[11] In the meantime a certain Magian called Sphendadates, who had been flogged by Tanyoxarces for some offense, went to Cambyses and informed him that his brother was plotting against him. In proof of this he declared that Tanyoxarces would refuse to come if summoned. Cambyses thereupon summoned his brother, who, being engaged on another matter, put off coming. The Magian thereupon accused him more freely. His mother Amytis, who suspected the Magian, advised Cambyses not to listen to him. Cambyses pretended not to believe him, while in reality he did. Being summoned by Cambyses a third time, Tanyoxarces obeyed the summons. His brother embraced him, but nevertheless determined to put him to death, and, unknown to his mother Amytis, took measures to carry out his plan.

[12] The Magian made the following suggestion. Being himself very like Tanyoxarces, he advised the king publicly to order that his head should be cut off as having falsely accused the king's brother; that in the meantime Tanyoxarces should secretly be put to death, and henote should be dressed in his clothes, so that Tanyoxarces should be thought alive. Cambyses agreed to this. Tanyoxarces was put to death by being forced to drink bull's blood; the Magian put on his clothes and was mistaken for him by the people. The fraud was not known for a long time except to Artasyras, Bagapates, and Izabates, to whom alone Cambyses had entrusted the secret.

[13] Then Cambyses, having summoned Labyzus, the chief of Tanyoxarces' eunuchs, and the other eunuchs, showed them the Magian seated and dressed in the guise of his brother, and asked them whether they thought he was Tanyoxarces. Labyzus, in astonishment, replied, "Whom else should we think him to be?" the likeness being so great that he was deceived. The Magian was accordingly sent to Bactria, where he played the part of Tanyoxarces. Five years later Amytis, having learnt the truth from the eunuch Tibethis, whom the Magian had flogged, demanded that Cambyses should hand over Sphendadates to her, but he refused. Whereupon Amytis, after heaping curses upon him, drank poison and died.

[14] On a certain occasion, while Cambyses was offering sacrifice, no blood flowed from the slaughtered victims. This greatly alarmed him, and the birth of a son without a head by Roxana increased this alarm. This portent was interpreted by the wise men to mean that he would leave no successor. His mother also appeared to him in a dream, threatening retribution for the murder he had committed, which alarmed him still more. At Babylon, while carving a piece of wood with a knife for his amusement, he accidentally wounded himself in the thigh, and died eleven days afterwards, in the eighteenth year of his reign.

[15] Bagapates and Artasyras, before the death of Cambyses, conspired to raise the Magian to the throne, as they afterwards did. Izabates, who had gone to convey the body of Cambyses to Persia, finding on his return that the Magian was reigning under the name of Tanyoxarces, disclosed the truth to the army and exposed the Magian. After this he took refuge in a temple, where he was seized and put to death.

[16] Then seven distinguished Persians conspired against the Magian. Their names were Onophas, Idernes, Norondabates, Mardonius, Barisses, Ataphernes, and Darius [son of] Hystaspes. After they had given and taken the most solemn pledges, they admitted to their counsels Artasyras and Bagapates, who kept all the keys of the palace. The seven, having been admitted into the palace by Bagapates, found the Magian asleep. At the sight of them he jumped up, but finding no weapon ready to hand (for Bagapates had secretly removed them all) he smashed a chair made of gold and defended himself with one of the legs, but was finally stabbed to death by the seven. He had reigned seven months.

[17] Darius was chosen king from the seven conspirators in accordance with a test agreed upon, his horse being the first to neigh after the sun had risen, the result of a cunning stratagem.

[18] The Persians celebrate the day on which the Magian was put to death by a festival called Magophonia.

[19] Darius ordered a tomb to be built for himself in a two-peaked mountain, but when he desired to go and see it he was dissuaded by the soothsayers and his parents. The latter, however, were anxious to make the ascent to it, but the priests who were dragging them up, being frightened at the sight of some snakes, let go the ropes and they fell and were dashed to pieces. Darius was greatly grieved and ordered the heads of the forty men who were responsible to be cut off.

[20] Darius ordered Ariaramnes, satrap of Cappadocia, to cross over into Scythia, and carry off a number of prisoners, male and female. He went over in thirty penteconters, and among others took captive Marsagetes, the Scythian king's brother, who had been imprisoned by his own brother for certain offenses. The ruler of the Scythians, being enraged, wrote an abusive letter to Darius, who replied in the same tone.

[21] Darius then collected an army of 800,000 men and crossed the Bosphorus and the Isternote by a bridge of boats into Scythian territory in fifteen days. The two kings sent each other a bow in turn. Darius, seeing that the bow of the Scythians was stronger, turned back and fled across the bridges, destroying some of them in his haste before the entire army had crossed. Eighty thousand of his men, who had been left behind in Europe, were put to death by the ruler of the Scythians. Darius, after he had crossed the bridge, set fire to the houses and temples of the Chalcedonians, because they had attempted to break down the bridges which he had made near their city and had also destroyed the altar erected by him, when crossing, in honor of Zeus Diabaterios.

[22] Datis, the commander of the Persian fleet, on his return from Pontus, ravaged Greece and the islands. At Marathon he was met by Miltiades; the barbarians were defeated and Datis himself slain, the Athenians afterwards refusing to give up his body at the request of the Persians.

[23] Darius then returned to Persia, where, after having offered sacrifice, he died after an illness of thirty days, in the seventy-second year of his age and the thirty-first of his reign. Artasyras and Bagapates also died, the latter having been for seven years the keeper of the tomb of Darius.

[24] Darius was succeeded by his son Xerxes, over whom. Artapanus the son of Artasyras had as great influence as his father had had over Darius. His other confidential advisers were the aged Mardonius and Matacas the eunuch. Xerxes married Amestris, the daughter of Onophas, who bore him a son, Dariaeus, two years afterwards Hystaspes and Artaxerxes, and two daughters, one named Rhodogyne and another called Amytis after her grandmother.

[25] Xerxes decided to make war upon Greece, because the Chalcedonians had attempted to break down the bridge as already stated and had destroyed the altar which Darius had set up, and because the Athenians had slain Datis and refused to give up his body. But first he visited Babylon, being desirous of seeing the tomb of Belitanes, which Mardonius showed him. But he was unable to fill the vessel of oil, as had been written.

[26] Thence he proceeded to Ecbatana, where he heard of the revolt of the Babylonians and the murder of Zopyrus their satrap. Ctesias' account is different from that of Herodotus. What the latter relates of Zopyrus is attributed by Ctesias, with the exception of his mule giving birth to a foal, to Megabyzus, the son-in-law of Xerxes and the husband of his daughter Amytis. Babylon was taken by Megabyzus, upon whom Xerxes bestowed, amongst other rewards, a golden hand-mill, weighing six talents, the most honorable of the royal gifts.

[27] Then Xerxes, having collected a Persian army, 800,000 men and 1000 triremes without reckoning the chariots, set out against Greece, having first thrown a bridge across at Abydus. Demaratus the Spartan, who arrived there first and accompanied Xerxes across, dissuaded him from invading Sparta. His general Artapanus, with 10,000 men, fought an engagement with Leonidas, the Spartan general, at Thermopylae; the Persian host was cut to pieces, while only two or three of the Spartans were slain. The king then ordered an attack with 20,000, but these were defeated, and although flogged to the battle, were routed again. The next day he ordered an attack with 50,000, but without success, and accordingly ceased operations. Thorax the Thessalian and Calliades and Timaphernes, the leaders of the Trachinians, who were present with their forces, were summoned by Xerxes together with Demaratus and Hegias the Ephesian, who told him that the Spartans could never be defeated unless they were surrounded. A Persian army of 40,000 men was conducted by the two leaders of the Trachinians over an almost inaccessible mountain-path to the rear of the Lacedaemonians, who were surrounded and died bravely to a man.

[28] Xerxes sent another army of 120,000 men against Plataea under the command of Mardonius, at the instigation of the Thebans. He was opposed by Pausanias the Spartan, with only 300 Spartiates, 1000 perioeci, and 6000 from the other cities. The Persians suffered a severe defeat, Mardonius being wounded and obliged to take to flight.

[29] He was afterwards sent by Xerxes to plunder the temple of Apollo, where he is said to have died from injuries received during a terrible hailstorm, to the great grief of Xerxes.

[30] Xerxes then advanced against Athens itself, the inhabitants of which manned 110 triremes and took refuge in Salamis; Xerxes took possession of the empty city and set fire to it, with the exception of the Acropolis, which was defended by a small band of men who had remained; at last, they also made their escape by night, and the Acropolis was fired. After this, Xerxes proceeded to a narrow strip of land in Attica called Heracleum, and began to construct an embankment in the direction of Salamis, intending to cross over on foot. By the advice of the Athenians Themistocles and Aristides archers were summoned from Crete. Then a naval engagement took place between the Greeks with 700 ships and the Persians with more than 1000 under Onophas. The Athenians were victorious, thanks to the advice and clever strategy of Aristides and Themistocles; the Persians lost 500 ships, and Xerxes took to flight. In the remaining battles 12,000 Persians were killed.

[31] Xerxes, having crossed over into Asia and advanced towards Sardes, dispatched Megabyzus to plunder the temple at Delphi. On his refusing to go, the eunuch Matacas was sent in his place, to insult Apollo and plunder the temple.

[32] Having carried out his orders he returned to Xerxes, who in the meantime had arrived in Persis from Babylon.

[33] Here Megabyzus accused his wife Amytis (the daughter of Xerxes) of having committed adultery. Xerxes severely reprimanded her, but she declared that she was not guilty. Artapanus and Aspamitres the eunuch, the confidential advisers of Xerxes, resolved to kill their master. Having done so, they persuaded Artaxerxesnote that his brother Dariaeus had murdered him. Dariaeus was taken to the palace of Artaxerxes, and, although he vehemently denied the accusation, he was put to death.

[34] Thus Artaxerxes became king, thanks to Artapanus, who entered into a conspiracy against him with Megabyzus (who was bitterly aggrieved at the suspicion of adultery against his wife), each taking an oath to remain loyal to the other. Nevertheless, Megabyzus revealed the plot, the guilty conduct of Artapanus came to light, and he met the death which he had intended for Artaxerxes. Aspamitres, who had taken part in the murders of Xerxes and Dariaeus was cruelly put to death, being exposed in the trough. After the death of Artapanus there was a battle between his fellow-conspirators and the other Persians, in which the three sons of Artapanus were killed and Megabyzus severely wounded. Artaxerxes, Amytis, and Rhodogyne, and their mother Amestris were deeply grieved, and his life was only saved by the skill and attention of Apollonides, a physician of Cos.

[35] Bactra and its satrap, another Artapanus, revolted from Artaxerxes. The first battle was indecisive, but in a second, the Bactrians were defeated because the wind blew in their faces, and the whole of Bactria submitted.

[36] Egypt, under the leadership of Inarus a Libyan, assisted by a native of the country, also revolted, and preparations were made for war. At the request of Inarus the Athenians sent forty ships to his aid. Artaxerxes himself was desirous of taking part in the expedition, but his friends dissuaded him. He therefore sent Achaemenides his brother with 400,000 infantry and eighty ships. Inarus joined battle with Achaemenides, the Egyptians were victorious, Achaemenides being slain by Inarus and his body sent to Artaxerxes. Inarus was also successful at sea. Charitimides, the commander of the forty Athenian ships, covered himself with glory in a naval engagement, in which twenty out of fifty Persian ships were captured with their crews, and the remaining thirty sunk.

[37] The king then sent Megabyzus against Inarus, with an additional army of 200,000 men and 300 ships commanded by Oriscus; so that, not counting the ships' crews, his army consisted of 500,000. For, when Achaemenides fell, 100,000 of his 400,000 men perished. A desperate battle ensued, in which the losses were heavy on both sides, although those of the Egyptians were heavier. Megabyzus wounded Inarus in the thigh, and put him to flight, and the Persians obtained a complete victory. Inarus fled to Byblos, an Egyptian stronghold, accompanied by those of the Greeks who had not been killed in battle. Then all Egypt, except Byblos, submitted to Megabyzus.

[38] But since this stronghold appeared impregnable, he came to terms with Inarus and the Greeks (6000 and more in number), on condition that they should suffer no harm from the king, and that the Greeks should be allowed to return home whenever they pleased.

Having appointed Sarsamas satrap of Egypt, Megabyzus took Inarus and the Greeks to Artaxerxes, who was greatly enraged with Inarus because he had slain his brother Achaemenides. Megabyzus told him what had happened, how he had given his word to Inarus and the Greeks when he occupied Byblos, and earnestly entreated the king to spare their lives. The king consented, and the news that no harm would come to Inarus and the Greeks was immediately reported to the army. 

[39] But Amestris, aggrieved at the idea that Inarus and the Greeks should escape punishment for the death of her son Achaemenides, asked the king [to give them up to her], but he refused ; she then appealed to Megabyzus, who also dismissed her. At last, however, through her constant importunity she obtained her wish from her son, and after five years the king gave up Inarus and the Greeks to her. Inarus was impaled on three stakes; fifty of the Greeks, all that she could lay hands on, were decapitated.

[40] Megabyzus was deeply grieved at this, and asked permission to retire to his satrapy, Syria. Having secretly sent the rest of the Greeks thither in advance, on his arrival he collected a large army (150,000 not including cavalry) and raised the standard of revolt. Usiris with 200,000 men was sent against him; a battle took place, in which Megabyzus and Usiris wounded each other. Usiris inflicted a wound with a spear in Megabyzus' thigh two fingers deep; Megabyzus in turn first wounded Usiris in the thigh and then in the shoulder, so that he fell from his horse. Megabyzus, as he fell, protected him, and ordered that he should be spared. Many Persians were slain in the battle, in which Zopyrus and Artyphius, the sons of Megabyzus, distinguished themselves, and Megabyzus gained a decisive victory. Usiris received the greatest attention and was sent to Artaxerxes at his request.

[41] Another army was sent against him under Menostanes the son of Artarius, satrap of Babylon and brother of Artaxerxes. Another battle took place, in which the Persians were routed; Menostanes was shot by Megabyzus, first in the shoulder and then in the head, but the wound was not mortal. However, he fled with his army and Megabyzus gained a brilliant victory.

[42] Artarius then sent to Megabyzus, advising him to come to terms with the king. Megabyzus replied that he was ready to do so, but on condition that he should not be obliged to appear at court again, and should be allowed to remain in his satrapy. When his answer was reported to the king, the Paphlagonian eunuch Artoxares and Amestris urged him to make peace without delay. Accordingly, Artarius, his wife Amytis, Artoxares (then twenty years of age), and Petisas, the son of Usiris and father of Spitamas, were sent for that purpose to Megabyzus. After many entreaties and solemn promises, with great difficulty they succeeded in persuading Megabyzus to visit the king, who finally pardoned him for all his offenses.

[43] Some time afterwards, while the king was out hunting he was attacked by a lion, which Megabyzus slew as it reared and was preparing to rush upon him. The king, enraged because Megabyzus had slain the animal first, ordered his head to be cut off, but owing to the entreaties of Amestris, Amytis, and others his life was spared and he was banished to Curtae, a town on the Red Sea. Artoxares the eunuch was also banished to Armenia for having often spoken freely to the king in favor of Megabyzus. After having passed five years in exile, Megabyzus escaped by pretending to be a leper, whom no one might approach, and returned home to Amytis, who hardly recognized him. On the intercession of Amestris and Amytis, the king became reconciled to him and admitted him to his table as before. Megabyzus died at the age of seventy-six, deeply mourned by the king.

[44] After his death, his wife Amytis, like her mother Amestris before her, showed great fondness for the society of men. The physician Apollonides of Cos, when Amytis was suffering from a slight illness, being called in to attend her, fell in love with her. For some time they carried on an intrigue, but finally she told her mother. She in turn informed the king, who left her to do as she would with the offender. Apollonides was kept in chains for two months as a punishment, and then buried alive on the same day that Amytis died.

[45] Zopyrus, the son of Megabyzus and Amytis, after the death of his father and mother revolted against the king. He visited Athens, where he was well received owing to the services his mother had rendered to the Athenians. From Athens he sailed with some Athenian troops to Caunus and summoned it to surrender. The inhabitants expressed themselves ready to do so, provided the Athenians who accompanied him were not admitted. While Zopyrus was mounting the wall, a Caunian named Alcides hit him on the head with a stone and killed him. The Caunian was crucified by order of his grandmother Amestris.

[46] Some time afterwards, Amestris died at a great age, and Artaxerxes also died after having reigned forty-two years. Here the seventeenth book ends.

[47] Artaxerxes was succeeded by his son Xerxes,note his only legitimate son by Damaspia, who died on the same day as her husband. The bodies of the king and queen were conveyed by Bagorazus to Persis. Artaxerxes had seventeen illegitimate sons, amongst them Secydianus by Alogyne the Babylonian, Ochus (afterwards king) and Arsites by Cosmartidene, also a Babylonian. Besides these three, he also had a son Bagapaeus and a daughter Parysatis by Andria, also a Babylonian, who became the mother of Artaxerxes and Cyrus. During his father's lifetime, Ochus was made satrap of Hyrcania, and given in marriage to Parysatis, the daughter of Artaxerxes and his own sister.

[48] Secydianus, having won over the eunuch Pharnacyas, who had the greatest influence over Xerxes next to Bagorazus, Menostanes, and some others, entered the palace after a festival, while Xerxes was lying in a drunken sleep and put him to death, forty-five days after the death of his father. The bodies of both father and son were conveyed together to Persis, for the mules which drew the chariot in which was the father's body, refused to move, as if waiting for that of the son; and when it arrived, they at once went on rapidly.

[49] Secydianus thus became king and appointed Menostanes his azabarites.note After Bagorazus returned to court, Secydianus, who cherished a long-standing enmity against him, on the pretext that he had left his father's body in Persis without his permission, ordered him to be stoned to death. The army was greatly grieved, and, although Secydianus distributed large sums amongst the soldiers, they hated him for the murder of his brother Xerxes and now for that of Bagorazus.

[50] Secydianus, then summoned Ochus to court, who promised to present himself but failed to do so. After he had been summoned several times, he collected a large force with the obvious intention of seizing the throne. He was joined by Arbarius, commander of the cavalry, and Arxanes, satrap of Egypt. The eunuch Artoxares also came from Armenia and placed the crown on the head of Ochus against his will.

[51] Thus Ochus became king and changed his name to Dariaeus.note At the suggestion of Parysatis, he endeavored by trickery and solemn promises to win over Secydianus. Menostanes did all he could to prevent Secydianus from putting faith in these promises or coming to terms with those who were trying to deceive him. In spite of this Secydianus allowed himself to be persuaded, was arrested, thrown into the ashes, and died, after a reign of six months and fifteen days.

[52] Ochus (also called Dariaeusnote) thus became sole ruler. Three eunuchs, Artoxares, Artibarzanes, and Athous had the greatest influence with him, but his chief adviser was his wife. By her he had had two children before he became king, a daughter Amestris and a son Arsaces, afterwards called Artaxerxes. After his accession she bore him another son, called Cyrus from the sun.note A third son was named Artostes, who was followed by several others, to the number of thirteen.

The writer says that he obtained these particulars from Parysatis herself.

Most of the children soon died, the only survivors being those just mentioned and a fourth named Oxendras. Arsites, his own brother by the same father and mother, revolted against the king together with Artyphius the son of Megabyzus. Artasyras was sent against them, and, having been defeated in two battles, gained the victory in a third, after he had bribed the Greeks, who were with Artyphius, so that only three Milesians remained faithful to him. At length Artyphius, finding that Arsites did not appear, surrendered to the king, after Artasyras had solemnly promised him that his life should be spared. The king was anxious to put Artyphius to death, but Parysatis advised him not to do so at once, in order to deceive Arsites and induce him also to submit; when both had surrendered, she said they could both be put to death. The plan succeeded, Artyphius and Arsites surrendered, and were thrown into the ashes. The king wished to pardon Arsites, but Parysatis by her importunity persuaded him to put him to death. Pharnacyas, who had assisted Secydianus to kill Xerxes, was stoned to death. Menostanes was also arrested and condemned, but anticipated his fate by suicide. 

[53] Pissuthnes also revolted, and Tissaphernes, Spithradates, and Parmises were sent against him. Pissuthnes set out to meet them with Lycon the Athenian and a body of Greeks, who were bribed by the king's generals to desert him. Pissuthnes then surrendered, and, after having received assurances that his life should be spared, accompanied Tissaphernes to the court. But the king ordered him to be thrown into the ashes and gave his satrapy to Tissaphernes. Lycon also received several towns and districts as the reward of his treachery.

[54] Artoxares the eunuch, who had great influence with the king, desiring to obtain possession of the throne himself, plotted against his master. He ordered his wife to make him a false beard and mustache, that he might look like a man. His wife, however, betrayed him; he was seized, handed over to Parysatis, and put to death.

[55]  Arsaces the king's son, who afterwards changed his name to Artaxerxes, married Statira, daughter of Hydarnes, whose son Terituchmes, who had been appointed to his father's satrapy after his death, married the king's daughter Amestris. Terituchmes had a half-sister Roxana, of great beauty and very skillful in bending the bow and hurling the spear. Terituchmes having fallen in love with her and conceived a hatred of his wife Amestris, in order to get rid of the latter, resolved to put her into a sack, where she was to be stabbed to death by 300 accomplices, with whom he had entered into a conspiracy to raise a revolt. But a certain Udiastes, who had great influence with Terituchmes, having received letters from the king promising to reward him generously if he could save his daughter, attacked and murdered Terituchmes, who courageously defended himself and slew (it is said) thirty-seven of his assailants.

[56] Mitradates, the son of Udiastes, the armor-bearer of Terituchmes, took no part in this affair, and when he learnt what had happened, he cursed his father and seized the city of Zaris to hand over to the son of Terituchmes. Parysatis ordered the mother of Terituchmes, his brothers Mitrostes and Helicus, and his sisters except Statira to be put to death. Roxana was hewn in pieces alive. The king told his wife Parysatis to inflict the same punishment upon the wife of his son Arsaces. But Arsaces by his tears and lamentations appeased the wrath of his father and mother. Parysatis having relented, Ochus spared Statira's life, but at the same time told Parysatis that she would one day greatly regret it.

[57] In the nineteenth book the author relates how Ochus Dariaeus fell sick and died at Babylon, having reigned thirty-five years. Arsaces, who succeeded him, changed his name to Artaxerxes.note

[58] Udiastes had his tongue cut out and torn out by the roots behind; and so he died. His son Mitradates was appointed to his satrapy. This was due to the instigation of Statira, whereat Parysatis was greatly aggrieved.

[59] Cyrus, being accused by Tissaphernes of designs on the life of his brother Artaxerxes, took refuge with his mother, by whose intervention he was cleared of the charge. Disgraced by his brother, he retired to his satrapy and laid his plans for revolt.

[60] Satibarzanes accused Orontes of an intrigue with Parysatis, although her conduct was irreproachable;

[61] Orontes was put to death, and his mother was greatly enraged against the king, because Parysatis had poisoned the son of Terituchmes.

[62] The author also mentions him who cremated his father contrary to the law, Hellanicus and Herodotus being thus convicted of falsehood.

[63] Cyrus having revolted against his brother collected an army composed of both Greeks and barbarians. Clearchus was in command of the Greeks; Syennesis, king of Cilicia, assisted both Cyrus and Artaxerxes.

[64] The author then reports the speeches of the two princes to their troops. Clearchus the Spartan, who was in command of the Greeks, and Menon the Thessalian, who accompanied Cyrus, were always at variance, because Cyrus took the advice of Clearchus in everything, while Menon was disregarded. Large numbers deserted from Artaxerxes to Cyrus, none from Cyrus to Artaxerxes. For this reason Artabarius, who meditated desertion, was accused and thrown into the ashes. Cyrus attacked the king's army and gained the victory,note but lost his life by neglecting the advice of Clearchus. His body was mutilated by Artaxerxes, who ordered his head and the hand with which he had struck him to be cut off, and carried them about in triumph.

[65] Clearchus the Spartan withdrew during the night with his Greeks, and after he had seized one of the cities belonging to Parysatis, the king made peace with him.

[66] Parysatis set out for Babylon, mourning for the death of Cyrus, and having with difficulty recovered his head and hand sent them to Susa for burial. It was Bagapates who had cut off his head by order of Artaxerxes. Parysatis, when playing at dice with the king, won the game and Bagapates as the prize, and afterwards had him flayed alive and crucified. At length she was persuaded by the entreaties of Artaxerxes to give up mourning for her son.

[67] The king rewarded the soldier who brought him Cyrus' cap, and the Carian who was supposed to have wounded him, whom Parysatis afterwards tortured and put to death. Mitradates having boasted at table of having killed Cyrus, Parysatis demanded that he should be given up to her, and having got him into her hands, put him to death with great cruelty. Such is the contents of the nineteenth and twentieth books.

[68] The twenty-first, twenty-second, and twenty-third books conclude the history. Tissaphernes began to plot against the Greeks, with the assistance of Menon the Thessalian, whom he had won over.

[69] In this manner, by cunning and solemn promises, he got Clearchus and the other generals in his power, although Clearchus suspected and was on his guard against treachery and endeavored to avert it; but the soldiers, being deceived by the words of Menon, compelled the unwilling Clearchus to visit Tissaphernes. Proxenus the Boeotian, who had been already deceived, also advised him to go. Clearchus and the other generals were sent in chains to Artaxerxes at Babylon, where all the people flocked to see Clearchus.

Ctesias himself, Parysatis' physician, bestowed every attention upon Clearchus while he was in prison and did all he could to mitigate his lot. Parysatis would have given him his freedom and let him go, had not Statira persuaded the king to put him to death. After his execution, a marvelous thing happened. A strong wind sprang up and heaped a quantity of earth upon his body, which formed a natural tomb. The other Greeks who had been sent with him were also put to death, with the exception of Menon. 

[70] The author next tells us of the insults heaped by Parysatis on Statira, and the poisoning of Statira, which was brought about in the following manner, although she had long been on her guard against this kind of death. A table knife was smeared with poison on one side. One of the little birds, about the size of an egg, called rhyndace, was cut in half by Parysatis, who herself took and ate the portion which had not been touched by the poison, at the same time offering Statira the poisoned half. Statira, seeing that Parysatis was eating her own portion, had no suspicions, and took the fatal poison. The king, enraged with his mother, ordered her eunuchs to be seized and tortured, including her chief confidant Ginge. The latter, being accused and brought to trial, was acquitted by the judges, but the king condemned her and ordered her to be tortured and put to death, which caused a lasting quarrel between mother and son.

[71] The tomb of Clearchus, eight years afterwards, was found covered with palm trees, which Parysatis had had secretly planted by her eunuchs.

[72] The author next states the cause of the quarrel of Artaxerxes with Euagoras, king of Salamis. The messengers sent by Euagoras to Ctesias about the receiving of letters from Abuletes. The letter of Ctesias to Euagoras concerning reconciliation with Anaxagoras prince of the Cyprians.

[73] The return of the messengers of Euagoras to Cyprus and the delivery of the letters from Ctesias to Euagoras.

[74] The speech of Conon to Euagoras about visiting the king; and the letter of Euagoras on the honors he had received from him. The letter of Conon to Ctesias, the agreement of Euagoras to pay tribute to the king, and the giving of the letters to Ctesias. Speech of Ctesias to the king about Conon and the letter to him. The presents sent by Euagoras delivered to Satibarzanes; the arrival of the messengers in Cyprus. The letters of Conon to the king and Ctesias. The detention of the Spartan ambassadors to the king. Letter from the king to Conon and the Spartans, delivered to them by Ctesias himself. Conon appointed commander of the fleet by Pharnabazus.

[75] The visit of Ctesias to Cnidus, his native city, and to Sparta. Proceedings against the Spartan ambassadors at Rhodes, and their acquittal. The number of stations, days, and parasangs from Ephesus to Bactria and India.

[76] The work concludes with a list of the Assyrian kings from Ninus and Semiramis to Artaxerxes.

This writer's style is clear and very simple, which makes the work agreeable to read. He uses the Ionic dialect, not throughout, as Herodotus does, but only in certain expressions, nor does he, like Herodotus, interrupt the thread of his narrative by ill-timed digressions. Although he reproaches Herodotus for his old wives' tales, he is not free from the same defect, especially in his account of India.

The charm of his history chiefly consists in his manner of relating events, which is strong in the emotional and unexpected, and in his varied use of mythical embellishment. The style is more careless than it should be, and the phraseology often descends to the commonplace, whereas that of Herodotus, both in this and other respects as far as vigor and art are concerned, is the model representative of the Ionic dialect.