Artaxerxes II Mnemon
: 𐎠𐎼𐎫𐎧𐏁𐏂𐎠 Artaxšaçrā
, ) (ca. 436 – 358 BC) was king of Persia
from 404 BC until his death. He was a son of Darius II of Persia
He defended his position against his brother Cyrus the Younger
, who was defeated and killed at the Battle of Cunaxa
in 401 BC, and against a revolt of the provincial governors, the satraps
(366 – 358 BC). He also became involved in a war with Persia's erstwhile allies, the Spartans
, who, under Agesilaus II
, invaded Asia Minor
. In order to redirect the Spartans
attention to Greek affairs Artaxerxes subsidized their enemies: in particular the Athenians
, and Corinthians
. These subsidies helped to engage the Spartans
in what would become known as the Corinthian War
. In 386 BC, Artaxerxes II betrayed his allies and came to an arrangement with Sparta, and in the Treaty of Antalcidas
he forced his erstwhile allies to come to terms. This treaty restored control of the Greek cities of Ionia
on the Anatolian coast to the Persians, while giving Sparta dominance on the Greek mainland.
Although successful against the Greeks, Artaxerxes had more trouble with the Egyptians, who had successfully revolted against him at the beginning of his reign. An attempt to reconquer Egypt in 373 BC was completely unsuccessful, but in his waning years the Persians did manage to defeat a joint Egyptian–Spartan effort to conquer Phoenicia.
He is reported to have had a number of wives, chief among whom was a Greek woman of Phocaea named Aspasia (not the same as the concubine of Pericles). He also is said to have loved a young eunuch by the name of Tiridates, who died "as he was emerging from childhood." His death caused Artaxerxes enormous grief, and there was public mourning for him throughout the empire as an offering to the king from his subjects. Artaxerxes II is said to have more than 115 sons from 350 wives.
He is identified as the Persian king Ahasuerus of the Purim story in traditional sources.
Much of Artaxerxes's wealth was spent on building projects. He restored the palace of Darius I at Susa, and also the fortifications; including a strong redoubt at the southeast corner of the enclosure and gave Ecbatana a new apadana and sculptures. He seems not to have built much at Persepolis.