2. An Hyrcanian, who was commander of the body-guard of king Xerxes. In B. C. 465, Artabanus, in conjunction with a eunuch, whom some call Spamitres and others Mithridates, assassinated Xerxes, with the view of setting himself upon the throne of Persia. Xerxes had three sons, Dareius, Artaxerxes, and Hystaspes, who was absent from the court as satrap of Bactria. Now as it was necessary for Artabanus to get rid of these sons also, he persuaded Artaxerxes that his brother Dareius was the murderer of his father, and stimulated hint to avenge the deed by assassinating Dareius.
This was done at the earliest opportunity. Artabanus now communicated his plan of usurping the throne to his sons, and his intention to murder Artaxerxes also. When the moment for carrying this plan into effect had come, he insidiously struck Artaxerxes with his sword; but the blow only injured the prince slightly, and in the struggle which ensued Artaxerxes killed Artabanus, and thus secured the succession to himself. (Diod. 11.69
.) Justin (3.1
), who knows only of the two brothers, Dareius and Artaxerxes, gives a different account of the circumstances under which Artabanus was killed. (Comp. Ctesias, Pers.
p. 38, &c., ed Lion; Aristot. Pol. 5.10