Ariobarzanes, satrap of Phrygia, d.c.360

Ariobarzanes (d.c.360) was the leader of the Satrap's revolt against Artaxerxes II. He was satrap of Phrygia, a post he gained at some point after 387 BC. In that year he was recorded as acting in place of Pharnabazus, the long-established satrap, who had returned to court to marry a daughter of Artaxerxes II, and as providing a fleet to support Sparta in their conflict with Athens.

He was on friendly terms with Athena and Sparta.

In 368 Ariobarzanes sent Philiscus of Abydus to Greece, officially to try and end the war between Sparta and an alliance led by Thebes. This fell apart over the issue of Messene, and Philiscus then began to recruit a force of mercenaries. According to Xenophon (Hellenic, VII.1.27) these troops were to aid Sparta, but it is equally likely that they were actually intended to support Ariobarzanes's planned revolt.

Soon afterwards Ariobarzanes rebelled and must have held an area around the Hellespont for some time. Artaxerxes II sent three satraps to deal with this revolt - Mausolus of Caria was sent with a fleet to blockade him. Autophradates of Lydia besieged him in either Adramyttium or Assus (north-west Anatolia), while Cotys, satrap of Paphlagonia and king of Thrace besieged Sestus on the European side of the Hellespont.

Ariobarzanes tried to gain help from Athens and Sparta. The sieges were both lifted after King Agesilaus of Sparta arrived on the scene. Autophradates is said to have fled in terror, Cotys to have more reluctantly withdrawn and Mausolus convinced to leave by his friend Agesilaus. Mausolus and some of other leaders also paid Agesilaus, possibly to hire Spartan mercenaries ready for their own revolt.

Athens also sent a contingent, under Timotheus, but with instructions not to intervene if that would breach their treaty with the Persians. When it became clear that this was indeed the case, Timotheus turned away and captured Samos instead.

During the third phase of the Satrap's Revolt Ariobarzanes was one of the rebels but not the leader.

He was probably betrayed by his son Mithridates. Xenophon mentions this in passing in his Cyropaadia, as an example of the failings of the Persians of his day. Aristotle mentions it in passing in his Politics of c.350 BC (or possibly later).

The same Mithridates was responsible for the death of the rebel satrap Datames, gaining his confidence by pretending to join the revolt then assassinating him at a meeting.

Diodorus causes a certain amount of confusion, probably getting the rebellious satrap Ariobarzanes mixed up with another man of the same name, probably our man's nephew who ruled in the Pontus region from around 362 to 337. This Ariobarzanes also has a son called Mithridates, but they probably lived too late to be the father and son famous for the betrayal. 

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (7 August 2015), Ariobarzanes, satrap of Phrygia, d.c.360 ,

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