Darius III (Artashata) (c. 380–330 BC, Persian داریوش Dāriūš, pronounced [dɔːriˈuːʃ]), originally named Codomannus, was the last king of the Achaemenid Empire of Persia from 336 BC to 330 BC.
After Artaxerxes III of Persia and all of his sons were killed by the vizier Bagoas, the vizier installed a cousin of Artaxerxes III, Codomannus, to the Persian throne as Darius III. When Darius tried to act independently of the vizier, Bagoas tried to poison him, but Darius was warned and forced Bagoas to drink the poison himself. The new king found himself in control of an unstable empire, large portions of which were governed by jealous and unreliable satraps and inhabited by disaffected and rebellious subjects. However, he lacked the skills and experience to deal with these problems. In 334 BC, Alexander the Great began his invasion of the Persian Empire and subsequently defeated the Persians in a number of battles before taking the capital Persepolis in 331 BC. With the Persian Empire now effectively under Alexander's control, Alexander then decided to pursue Darius, but Darius was killed by a satrap Bessus before Alexander reached him.
Artaxerxes III of Persia and all of his sons except one, Arses, were killed off through the assassination plots of a vizier named Bagoas, who installed Arses on the throne as a puppet king. When he found out Arses couldn’t be controlled, however, Bagoas killed him off as well in 336 BC, and installed to the throne a man named Codomannus, the last surviving legitimate heir to the Persian throne. Codomannus was a distant relative of the royal house who had distinguished himself in a combat of champions in a war against the Cadusii and was serving at the time as a royal courier. Codomannus was the son of Arsames, son of Ostanes, one of Artaxerxes's brothers, and Sisygambis, daughter of Artaxerxes II Memnon. He took the throne at the age of 46.
Codomannus took the regnal name Darius III and quickly demonstrated his independence from his assassin benefactor. Bagoas then tried to poison Darius as well, when he learned that even Darius couldn't be controlled, but Darius was warned and forced Bagoas to drink the poison himself. The new king found himself in control of an unstable empire, large portions of which were governed by jealous and unreliable satraps and inhabited by disaffected and rebellious subjects, such as Khabash in Egypt. Compared to his ancestors and his fellow heirs who had since perished, Darius had a distinct lack of experience ruling an empire, and a lack of any previous ambition to do so. Darius was a ruler of entirely average stamp, without the striking talents and qualities which the administration of a vast empire required during that period of crisis.
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