Monetary History of
Cyrus the Younger
Usurper 404-401 BC
Son of Darius II
Cyrus the Younger was born about 424 BC the son of Darius II, king of Persia, and brother of Artaxerxes II(reigned 404-358? BC). In 408 BC, Cyrus was made satrap (governor) of the Persian provinces in western Asia Minor. At this time, he was also given command of the Persian forces in an alliance with Sparta during Peloponnesian War, which succeeded in deafting Athens.
Upon the death of his father Darius II, his brother Artaxerxes II ascended to the throne in 404 BC. At first, Cyrus was planning a revolt, but his plan was discovered by Tissaphernes, the satrap of Caria. Only due to the intervention of his mother was Cyrus pardoned by Artaxerxes II.
Artaxerxes II’s great mistake was the pardon of Cyrus. This single act would actually pave the way for the conquest of Alexander the Great some 60 years later by a strange sequence of events. Cyrus was not merely pardoned, but sent back to Parysatis as his satrapy. In this position of governor, Cyrus amassed an army of about 100,000 Persians and 13,000 Greeks, mostly Spartans whom Cyrus had helped during the Peloponnesian War against Athens. Using a pretext of leading an expedition against bandits in Pisidia, Cyrus set out from the city of Sardis in the direction of Babylon. In 401 BC the final battle came between the armies of Artaxerxes and Cyrus at Cunaxa, near the Euphrates River. Cyrus was killed in battle and while Artaxerxes emerged as the victory, the Greeks retreated through the heart of Persian territory on their way to the Black Sea. This strategic retreat exposed the military weakness of the Persians to the Greeks and the knowledge of this weakness set in motion the ultimate path to conquest of Persia. The story of Cyrus’s revolt and of the march of the “Ten Thousand Greeks” was told by the Athenian general and historian Xenophon in his Anabasis, thus laying the seeds for the dream of Philip II of Macedonia and later his sone, Alexander the Great.
AU Daric (8.55 grams)
AR Siglos (5.55 grams)