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Saturday, 9 April 2011

The Orontid Dynasty: Artasyrus, father of Orontes

Artasyrus is recorded as being the Satrap of Bactria during the reign of king Artaxerxes II.
For this, his son Orontes I was sometimes called "a Bactrian".
However his son was the Satrap of Sophene and Matiene (around lake Urmia) during the reign of the same king, so it appears there is confusion in the historical records, which is understandable in that western sources about the Achaemenid Empire derive from ancient Greek sources which mostly recorded events in Greece or western Asia Minor.
The satraps of Bactria would have been recorded in the royal archives held in cities such as Persepolis, Susa and Ecbatana. After the Macedonian invasion led by king Alexander III most archives were lost. It is interesting to note that Bactria during the Achaemenid era was ruled by the designated heir to the empire, this implies that Artasyrus was at the very least a part of the Achaemenian family.

The name Artasyrus is another Greek corruption of the name "Artakhshathra" (Artaxerxes). That Bactria was ruled by the heir to the throne and his name is actually another Greek version of Artaxerexes, he might have been the same person as king Artaxerxes I and Orontes may have been one of his illigimate sons by his numerous concubines.

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