BMCR 2004.03.10

Darius dans l’ombre d’Alexandre

, Darius dans l'ombre d'Alexandre. Paris: Fayard, 2003. 666 p. -[8] p. de plates : illustrations ; 22 cm. ISBN 2213609012. EUR 28.00.

Though the Achaemenid Empire has been one of the important forces of the ancient world, its role and achievements have been generally rather underexposed and undervalued. Partly this may be explained by the fact that the majority of sources on the Achaemenid Empire we know best have been written by non-Persians, notably by Greeks, i.e. people who considered the Persians as barbarians and, almost by definition, inferior to Greeks, and Romans. The same observation is valid for the Achaemenid kings as well. Apart from Cyrus I the Great and Darius I few Achaemenid kings have aroused the interest of historians and biographers, ancient or modern.1 Probably the least illuminated king of all is Darius III.2 Whenever he figures in a history, he is dwarfed by his formidable adversary, the Macedonian king Alexander the Great.

Briant’s (henceforth B for Briant) book may be regarded as an attempt to assess the position of Darius. However, ‘this book is no biography’ (p. 15). The aim of the book is, rather, ‘to outline the most important aspects of a historical phenomenon which can not be reduced to the mere person of Alexander, no matter the acknowledged importance of the personal element’ (p. 15). B describes the positions of Darius and Alexander in an elaborate introduction and twelve chapters, covering six main themes: between memory and oblivion (introduction); the impossible biography (chapters 1 and 2); crossed portraits (chapters 3, 4, 5, and 6); the constraint and the élan (chapters 7, 8, and 9); Darius and Da-ra-3 (chapters 10 and 11); balance and some propositions (chapter 12). The 7th section contains the ‘documentary files’: additional notes, abbreviations, the written sources which were used, general bibliography, indexes, and a list of illustrations.

Because practically all information on Darius has to be extracted from texts actually focusing on other subjects (predominantly Alexander), extracting it requires a strict methodological approach, executed with extreme precision. This process explains that writing on Darius, one necessarily has to write on Alexander as well: the story of Darius lies hidden in the shadow of Alexander. So far, only a few names and battles are all we really know of Darius.

In the first chapter, “Une ombre parmi les siens” (pp. 27-84), B investigates the tangible evidence regarding Darius in Achaemenid written, iconographic, archaeological, and numismatic sources. As for the archaeological record B concludes that no remains have been left which may be, with any degree of certainty, ascribed to Darius. Also the physical appearance of Darius is unknown. Suggestions that Achaemenid coins would represent identifiable features of different kings are untenable: what can be stated is that the representation of the kings’ faces on Achaemenid coins changes over time, but also that these changes do not coincide with the succession of rulers. As for the portrait of Darius on the Naples mosaic: that is a work of art by a Greek artist and not an Achaemenid document.

In the written (contemporary) sources Darius’ name occasionally appears, or may be inferred, as a dating tool. This evidence proves that Darius succeeded to the throne in 335 BC, when his predecessor (Arsès = Artaxerxes IV) died during his 2nd year of kingship. On some Babylonian astronomical tablets Darius’ name appears, too. They reveal that his personal name (before accession) had been Artashata. Though Egyptian documentary evidence might be used to claim some activity of (or rather on behalf of) Darius there as well, this evidence is too fragmentary and too insecure to be convincing. B points to the importance of the name the king chose for himself. By choosing for the name of “Darius” he outlined his program: he planned to restore the Achaemenid Empire after a troublesome period, like his predecessors Darius I (after the “Smerdis-affair”) and Darius II (after the assassination of Xerxes and the short but bitter fight between several pretenders to the throne).

In the second chapter, “Darius d’hier et d’aujourd’hui” (pp. 85-130) B guides us through modern and recent literature in which Darius figures. The point of departure is a minor work of Boccaccio, “De casibus virorum illustrium”, in which Darius figures as a tragic figure in the chapter “De Dario Persarum rege”. That Darius is mentioned by name in a more or less historical study is a rarity. Most frequently the last king of the Achaemenid Empire is only alluded to in modern and recent historiography and often in combination with concepts of effeminacy, luxury, decadence. Remarkably, this label is attached to the Achaemenid Empire as a whole rather than to Darius personally: he is, quite often, given the benefit of the doubt (or anonymity).

The verdict on Darius (whether presented by name or only hinted at) appears, to a large extent, to depend on the value writers attribute to the extant classical sources. The more Arrian is followed as prime source, the less favourable the picture of Darius and, conversely, the more, e.g., Diodorus of Sicily is credited, the more positively Darius emerges.

In the last quarter of a century there appears to be a slight tendency to draw a more balanced picture of Darius in historiography. One generally acknowledges the fact that, at Issos and at Gaugamela, as well as between these battles, Darius followed a conscious strategic scheme and made no real practical mistakes. He only had the bad luck to have a formidable and at the convenient moment lucky opponent. Though differences in appreciation remain, the overall picture tends to show more shades of grey than the long-time black and white one.

In the third chapter, “Le dernier Darius, celui qui fut vaincu par Alexandre” (pp. 133-159), B starts his exploration of the evidence with the genre of ‘biography’ as example for present and future generations. Elaborate collections of “exempla” were produced and transmitted, instructing what to do and especially what to avoid doing in different fields. Some “exempla” teach how and why empires collapse. Abuse of luxury and the good life are frequently pointed to and, in this respect, the Persian kings (but not ‘our’ Darius!) figure prominently. Such notions, true or not4, were the basis on which the historians describing Alexander’s ‘res gestae’ construed their works. Of these writers Quintus Curtius Rufus, Justin, Diodorus, and, to some extent, Plutarch belong to a tradition, known as the “Vulgate”, which was probably based on the works of Clitarch. Rightly or not, the “Vulgate” tradition has been considered for a long time to be less condescending regarding Darius than Arrian’s views. Though Arrian’s methods did in fact not differ essentially from Clitarch’s, or those writing in the “Vulgate’s” tradition, he has, nevertheless, been considered to be the more serious and trustworthy author(ity). A different case is the “Roman d’Alexandre”, likely to have been composed in the third century AD and little less than a quite uncritical eulogy on Alexander in which Darius is, more or less, the captive of developments. This genre is of no value for a realistic picture of Darius.

The fourth chapter treats “Le Darius d’Arrien” (pp. 161-190). In the “Anabasis Alexandri” Arrian practically follows Alexander’s every movement, without any attention to Darius. Darius is never introduced and appears almost out of the blue when he is said to have led his army to Cilicia and meets the Macedonian forces at Issos. Only after his death (330 BC) a short, and distorted or at least very simplified, review of his life is presented (Arr., An. Alex., III.xxii.2-6). In the words of B: “Il est clair qu’Arrien n’entend concéder à Darius aucune vertu” (p. 163). Wrong as they were, Arrian’s words fitted in (and reinforced) an existing Hellenophonic tradition.

B underlines that Arrian’s ‘biographies’ have nothing to do with what we consider history. Arrian’s work was aimed at “mimesis” of the proper example, not at revealing and analyzing “what really happened”. An identical method is also discernable in Roman historiography which derived its models from Greek examples. Arrian’s sources were Aristobulus and Ptolemaeus, both participants in Alexander’s expedition: that, however, offers no guarantee whatsoever for the final result of his own work. Moreover, Arrian closely follows his own great example, the “Anabasis” of Xenophon. Herodotus and, especially, Homer also contributed to Arrian’s style and themes.

In the stories of Alexander’s expedition after Arrian, the figure of Darius, disfigured as it is, is even more downsized by the descriptions presented by the various authors of the Indian king Poros. He emerges as the true and, above all, noble adversary of Alexander: in short: a real king like Alexander and as such acknowledged by the Macedonian. Certainly in Arrian one may notice the difference in attitude towards the Persian and the Indian kings.

Chapter five (pp. 191-247) discusses the problem “Un autre Darius, ou la même?”. In no work belonging to the “Vulgate” tradition do we find a proper obituary on the last king of the Achaemenids. However, whereas Arrian follows Alexander closely, Quintus Curtius Rufus (occasionally) also pays attention to the Persian side of the occurrences. The practice is especially clear in his fifth book, where he relates the conspiracy against and murder of Darius. Nevertheless, also for Quintus Curtius Rufus the “exempla” are more important than telling what actually happened at any given moment. His main concern remains to construct a play around the eternal themes of treason and the turn of fortune (pp. 198-9).

It is quite surprising that both Diodorus and Justin pay some attention to a display of exceptional courage by Darius in his dealing with Bagoas (who had murdered Artaxerxes III and IV and had selected Darius as his next royal puppet). In the days of Artaxerxes III, Darius already had distinguished himself by personal courage during a war against the Cadusians, fighting a duel against one of their most notorious champions (D.S. Almost an identical story is preserved by Justin, epitomizing part of a history by Pompeius Trogus. This source also credits Darius for the way he fought Alexander (Just. X.iii.3). From the late 17th century onward this picture found followers in one of the streams of European historiography. As a matter of fact, the duel, whether or not in front of the armies, is a recurring theme in Greek and Roman historiography and, probably, also real warfare [B omits here the challenge of Goliath by David, also strikingly similar]. It also frequently serves to identify a person as either a potential or already a legitimate king. For Darius it would have been a more auspicious start than to be picked by a eunuch as a suitable puppet.

B concludes that it is often difficult to draw firm conclusions on the basis of a confrontation between Arrian (and his followers) and those following the “Vulgate’s” tradition other than that the traditions are generally conflicting. Other sources are, as a rule, of little or no help. We are left with a single image of Alexander but two completely different views of Darius, even by the same author. However, in all accounts it is made clear almost from the beginning that Darius stood no chance of winning against Alexander. The view is echoed in the “Roman d’Alexandre” and the “Itinéraire d’Alexandre”, written in the 2nd part of the first half of the 4th century AD. It appears, moreover, to be the same message shown by the famous Naples mosaic, damaged as it is, though that view is not unchallenged (p. 242 sq.). B convincingly links the Naples mosaic with the description of the battle of Issos by Quintus Curtius Rufus and Diodorus but doubts whether the contest between the two kings is more than an illustration of an institutionalized account. It is, however, very likely that Darius showed himself in his chariot to the troops before the battle started. It was a propagandistic if not political statement. What happened afterwards remains guesswork.

Chapter six (pp. 249-284) is entitled “Darius entre la Grèce et Rome”. B starts with the assessment that the negative image of Darius was caused by the way Alexander succeeded him as the ruler of the empire. The so-called “orientalisation d’Alexandre” made Alexander an oriental ruler and the legitimate heir of the structures of the Achaemenid empire. For many of his fellow Greeks this policy of orientalizing was experienced as yielding to un-Greek conduct. Others conceded that, politically and strategically, it was the only way to secure both the position he had at the time and future plans. The controversy between the opposing views was fierce and continuous and lasted well into the Roman period and was especially hotly debated by Roman authors, many of whom despised the abandonment of the mores maiorum.

In Roman historiography Alexander often has become a Great King, in fact another Darius, a degenerate ruler. A striking example of this attitude is the caricature Livy draws of the Achaemenid Empire under Darius is a mere caricature. A comparable negative picture is drawn by Diodorus and Justin. Even Arrian, regarding the punishment of Bessos (the man who had murdered Darius) occasionally permits himself some critical remarks on Alexander.

Some Romans considered the Roman state as the culmination of a series of previous empires: Assyrians, Medes, Persians, Macedonians (though Roman knowledge of at least the Achaemenid past was quite limited). Rome is, due to a combination of its virtue and its fortune, the glorious destination of the evolution of political societies which shaped the world. By contrast, the Persian kings merely relied on their fortune and Alexander on his virtue. It is a refrain, reiterated until at least the beginning of the fifth century AD (or even the fifteenth, if we consider the Byzantine Empire as the natural continuation of the Roman Empire).

In chapter seven (pp. 287-346), “Roi d’en haut et roi d’en bas”, B starts with the examination of Darius’ measures after Alexander had invaded the empire. Darius ordered the first battle against the invading Alexander to be fought in Phrygia. The Persian satraps faced the Macedonian army at the banks of the Granicus River, in the spring of 334 BC. Until the spring of 333 Darius is absent in the theatre of events. It is this absence that earned him his bad reputation, largely due to a cleverly exploited Macedonian propaganda.

A year after Alexander’s landing in the Troad Darius himself took up the challenge and (after a war council) moved “downward” to Cilicia with a huge army. The direct cause was the death of Memnon [of Rhodes], who had greatly troubled the Macedonian force by his actions with the Persian fleet. In fact, he had effectively made it impossible for Alexander to move too far beyond the coastal regions of western Asia Minor (and therefore absolutely unnecessary for Darius to move thither).

Meanwhile Alexander started his way “up”. Darius (traditionally for Persian rulers in Greek literature) started to seduce people in Alexander’s entourage with bribes. Equally traditionally all attempts failed. In the meantime the preparations and manoeuvres before the battle which was to be fought close to Issos continued. Darius appears to have been confident, having assembled (almost) all necessary troops he could gather under his command. His choice for the battleground is criticized, but above all he is blamed because he left the initiative to Alexander. In the view of the ancient authors, Darius had lost the battle before it had even started.

Arrian’s account compares Cyrus the Younger and Alexander on the one hand and Artaxerxes II and Darius on the other. Where Cyrus had failed, Alexander succeeded. It left Darius not only in the shadow of Alexander but also in that of his predecessor Artaxerxes II. According to Quintus Curtius Rufus and Diodorus Alexander hoped to vanquish Darius in single combat. In the days and weeks following the battle Alexander is said to have introduced the theme of the single decisive combat in an exchange of letters between him and Darius. The veracity of this correspondence cannot be established. It did establish, however, in the eyes of many a reader, the rightness of Alexander’s claim to the Persian throne.

During or following the battle of Issos Alexander had captured a number of prominent members of Darius’ family, apart from other spoils. It is the basis for another theme: the Persian king willing to negotiate and surrender a considerable part of his empire to save his family; the weak prefer diplomacy over war. Only when the Persian king understood that Alexander refused to negotiate did he start to prepare for the following armed confrontation, this time at Gaugamela. Darius lost again and was forced (by his followers — he himself wanted to commit suicide) to flee the battlefield, on horseback. The victory of Alexander was unambiguous: he had gained Darius’ complete armour, his war chest, and his luggage. Though the writers following the “Vulgate” tradition draw a more positive picture of Darius before and during the battle than Arrian, they too have to admit that the defeat and his escape were less than honourable. In literature, the escape of Darius has been compared with that of Xerxes from Greece in 480. Both occurrences echo another recurrent theme in ancient literature, especially popular after the defeat of Xerxes, the escape of a defeated king and the change of fortune.

The hunted Darius is followed by the hunter Alexander. Initially Darius’ flight appeared successful. After a brief stop at Arbela, Darius decided not to defend Babylon but to press on for Ecbatana to assemble another army. In the meantime Alexander secured his position in Persia proper (and consequently Darius temporarily disappears out of our sources). After having secured Persepolis Alexander focused again on the pursuit of Darius. Darius retired in the direction of Bactria. During this retreat he was betrayed and kept prisoner by some conspirators led by Bessos, the satrap of Bactria. When Alexander learned this, he intensified the pace of the pursuit. He arrived too late to prevent the assassination of Darius. At Bactria, Bessos proclaimed himself the next Achaemenid, Artaxerxes V.

Chapter eight (pp. 347-394) is called “Casque en fer et vases d’argent”. According to B the cause of Darius’ defeat was for the ancient historians a structural one, i.e. everything that can be ranged under the common denominator of the Persian decadency. Far into modern history this idea has been echoed, elaborated, and generalized, that luxury is an army’s worst enemy.

The need of luxury was considered as typical for oriental rulers: Seneca presents the example of Cambyses and the campaign against the Ethiopians, partly borrowing from Herodotus, partly (freely?) inventing. The king is presented as a person without the slightest notion of the needs of his soldiers, let alone the rest of his subjects. Typically, Alexander originally is presented as a practical, down-to-earth ruler, more or less a ‘primus inter Macedonicos pares’, who shared prosperity and hardship with the men he commanded by example.

The ninth chapter (pp. 395-439) is called “Vie privée et vie publique du Grand roi”. The image of Darius is forever contaminated by the picture painted by Greek and Roman authors of a lustful king, fleeing and trying to bargain instead of fighting for his realm and his (captured) family. Most authors contrast the cowardly behaviour of Darius, who left the women behind, and the gallant performance of Alexander, who provided them with shelter and status. It thus illustrates another virtue (of Alexander): control over sexual lust, a theme especially expanded upon by Plutarch and Arrian.

Though some of this may have been historically true, the elaboration frequently tends, as B underlines, to transgress “les frontières poreuses de l’histiore et de la fiction” (p. 401). In comparing it with other written sources, like the “Cyropaedia”, several recurrent themes emerge: the capture of the enemy’s camp, the description of Asiatics’ camps crowded with women, the division of the spoils, the behaviour of truly noble women captives, the encounter between the conqueror and the beautiful (female) captive, the conflict between personal and state interests of the king and the way he deals with that problem.

Continuing his story of Alexander’s march, Quintus Curtius Rufus informs us that, after Darius’ death, several (if not most) prominent Persians surrendered and were warmly welcomed by Alexander, among them Bagoas the eunuch, who now exercised a definite influence over Alexander. Also this development turned into an “exemplum”: Alexander had become an oriental monarch. At the same time Alexander’s being attracted to Bagoas may be an obstacle to oppose the effeminacy of Persia against the virility of Macedonia.

Chapter ten (pp. 443-486) is entitled “Da-ra-3 et Iskender”. B argues that to reconstruct the image of Darius solely on Greco-Roman sources could be misleading and should be augmented with stories from the Iranian literature on Darius (Da-ra-) and Alexander (Aliksandar c.q. Iskender) and the way these stories were embedded in Iranian literature.

It appears that a site like, e.g., Persepolis has never been obliterated completely from memory in Persia, as we can see from a series of inscriptions in the remaining walls at Persepolis in Persian (Pehlevi) and Arabic which cover the entire period between antiquity and modern times. A similar conclusion may be drawn for the royal tombs at Naqsh i – Rustam.

In Iranian time-tables generally two kings were known by the name of Da-ra-: Aliksandar/Iskender’s adversary and his father. These time-tables are collections and adaptations of various myths more than reliable sources — even for later periods. All evidence shows that the Achaemenid history had been almost wholly forgotten shortly after the Macedonian conquest and had been replaced by a complex of, largely orally transmitted, mythical representations which were codified only later. One of the recurring themes is that Darius/Da-ra- and Alexander/Aliksandar/Iskender were related: they are occasionally called ‘brothers’ or ‘step-brothers’. More or less like the “Roman d’Alexandre”, both Sasanian and Islamic stories about the battle(s) between the Macedonian and Persian armies show a complete lack of understanding of, or even interest in, the actual occurrences before, during, or after Alexander’s campaign, including Darius’ death.

During the Sasanian period the image of Alexander in these stories generally was a (very) negative one: he ruined the ‘good religion’, the Avesta and the Zand, and destroyed the political unity of Iran. The founder of the Sasanian dynasty, Ardashir, restores the Achaemenid Empire and its religion, destroyed by Aliksandar and his successors (the Romans including), and becomes the true successor, and descendant, of Da-ra-. Thus, Sasanian rule is legitimized and the (Zoroastrian) order of the world re-established. Though Aliksandar plays the role of the evil character in the Sasanian stories, Da-ra- does not get through unscathed and is described as a weak, and therefore bad, leader.

In the ‘Universal History’ published by Tha’a-libi- in 1021 Alexander reappears, as Iskender, as a perfect ruler, comparable with the idealized figure in the “Roman d’Alexandre”. Though not all Islamic writers are equally positive on Iskender as Tha’a-libi-, he is always opposed to Da-ra-. In one aspect both Sasanian and Islamic authors correspond: compared with his father the last Da-ra- was a bad king and that caused his fall.

The eleventh chapter (pp. 487-521) deals with the “Mort et transfiguration” of Darius. He had been left, mortally wounded and dying of thirst, by the conspirators led by Bessos. Though the precise names may vary (somewhat), this main line in all sources is identical. To make Alexander Darius’ own chosen, rightful, and legitimate successor the classical authors created the figure of a go-between, a Macedonian vanguard soldier, who took care of an almost direct communication between the two. Alexander gave a proper royal burial to Darius, according to classical sources. Later ones, generally those who make believe that Alexander still met Darius living, starting with the “Roman d’Alexandre”, create a grand drama, both kings weeping profusely. Especially the Islamic writers, who believed, as some Sasanian authors did, that Iskender and Da-ra- were related, indulge in these scenes. After Iskender had taken revenge upon those who had killed their king, he himself had become worthy to be Da-ra-‘s successor. This tradition is preserved until the present day. Here, too, the living king takes care of a fitting funeral.

Distorted as the Islamic versions are, they share analogies with some scenes described by classical Greek authors, e.g. in the “Cyropaedia” (VIII.vii). The motif also recurs in Sasanian sources, like the “Testament of Ardashir”. Sasanian and Islamic sources are wrong in their assumption that Da-ra- asked Iskender to marry his daughter Roxane (Roshanek): as far as we know Alexander’s wife Roxane was the daughter of a Sogdian nobleman. However, the version of both Sasanian and Islamic writers illustrates the continuation of an essentially pure Persian kingship. In the Sasanian view the real successor of Da-ra- was Ardashir, the founder of the Sasanian dynasty and directly related to Da-ra- through a lateral branch of the family. Among his tasks one of the most important was to retaliate upon the Macedonians and/or their successors the wrongs suffered by Da-ra- from the infamous Aliksandar.

In the twelfth chapter (pp. 525-555), “Darius au combat: variations autour du thême ‘images et réalités'”, B concludes that the general picture of Darius in Greco-Roman literature shows few nuances. He lacks leadership on various important fields, a theme constructed around a systematic opposition with the perfect hero Alexander by a number of rhetorically competent authors which make Darius a role-model rather than a person of flesh and blood. Later Iranian literature is hardly kinder towards Da-ra-, especially in the Islamic period.

The conclusion that our picture of Darius is primarily based upon the needs and views of composers of “exempla” means that for those looking for the ‘reality’ the prospect seems very bleak, while those investigating the history of ideas may well have better opportunities. Nevertheless, B is not without hope for the first group if, at least, they would be willing to use the comparative historical method methodically. B illustrates his remark, not unconvincingly, with the theme of ‘the flights of Darius’ (p. 529-536). It is, moreover, absolutely necessary to look at Darius’ attitude and decisions in the perspective of the function of the Achaemenid state’s direct needs, as some of his entourage at Gaugamela did when they forced him to flee instead of committing suicide. It is the State that matters and that directs the acts of persons, irrespective of the fact that it may cause them to be blamed for cowardice or even worse in future centuries.

Pp. 559-594 present the “Notes complémentaires”, an enlarged and reasoned background to the more elementary notes of the basic text. They give an essential and illuminating insight in the elementary sources B used. Together with the bibliography (pp. 599-636), divided into two parts, the primary sources (pp. 599-602) and the alphabetic general bibliography they show B’s vast knowledge of the history of Iran, both in the Achaemenid and in later periods.

The indexes complete the work: the first on the names of persons and gods/goddesses, the second on travellers, artists, and scholars, the third on geographical names, the fourth on terminology and themes, and the fifth, an index locorum. The list of illustrations and the table of contents close the book.

The external care taken with this book meets the quality of its contents. The binding is superb, the pages open perfectly, the Garamond letter reads most pleasantly, and I could not notice any typos. There is, however, one aspect that may be improved, i.e. the quality of the pictures. Many of the black/white pictures have been printed (scanned?) rather flatly; the need to print a number of interesting pictures both in colour (between pp. 320 and 321) and previously or later in black/white escapes me: the latter pictures add nothing to the colour pictures, rather the contrary (the colour photographs refer to the pages involved, but the black/white photos do not).

This book ranks among the finest examples of French historical analysis: it is elaborate, eloquent, and full of displays of erudition. At the same time these assets make the book at times complex, difficult to read and not very transparent. It is, therefore, not a book one can easily recommend to an undergraduate, or to one unfamiliar with the subject. Another problem is that some of the excursions of B, interesting as they are (like those on Persian princesses), do not really contribute to the main goal of the book. To fully appreciate this book more than minimal knowledge of Achaemenid history is required. For those, however, who want to unravel the mysteries of image-building (or image-destruction) in historiography this book is an excellent case-study which can not be overlooked, even if one’s primary interest lies elsewhere. Occasionally, B appears to leave his role as precise methodologist and changes his descriptive style for an interpretative one (e.g., p. 244, pp. 339-40, and sometimes in chapter 12), but these little fragments are among the most accessible and personal parts of the book, showing both some emotion and the author’s own position.


1. The “Life of Artoxerxes” by Plutarch may, perhaps, be viewed as the exception to prove the rule, though one might argue whether this Life, based upon sources like Xenophon, Ctesias, Dinon of Colophon, and Heraclides of Cume, whether or not adapted and/or altered by Plutarch, may be regarded as a proper biography.

2. Henceforth I shall refer to Darius III simply as Darius.

3. As might be expected from an authority on Persian history B occasionally uses transcriptions from Persian or Islamic texts. For these transcriptions a more or less commonly accepted system has emerged over the years. Naturally this system is, in our complicated world, not necessarily compatible with the transcriptions present in the HTML-system. Some letters are, therefore, difficult to render. For long vowels I have chosen to insert a “-” behind the vowel involved. The caron I have, if possible, indicated by inserting a “h” behind the letter involved to indicate the necessary change of pronunciation.

4. Dominique Lenfant argues in ‘La décadence du Grand Roi et les ambitions de Cyrus le Jeune’, REG 114 (2001), 407-428 that the story of the Persian king’s decadence was invented, or at least supported, by Cyrus the Younger as an instrument to discredit his brother. Soon it spread throughout the Greek world and was enhanced by writers like Xenophon (notably in the “Cyropaedia”, esp. VIII.viii.15 sqq.) and Isocrates.