Xerxes II and Sogdianus

The only son of Artaxerxes I and his main wife Damaspia, Xerxes II succeeded his father in 424 BCE. Only 45 days after his father's death, however, he fell victim to a murder attempt by his half-brother Sogdianus, son of the Babylonian Alogune. Unable to maintain control of the army, he in turn was trapped and later executed by his half-brother Ochus, the satrap of Hyrcania, after a reign of little more than six months. The latter was successful in maintaining power and reigned as Darius II.

Due to the brief, uncertain and overlapping reigns of these two kings, brought about by their inability to control the various court factions and the army, no inscriptions of Xerxes II or Sogdianus are extant. The fact that they do not occur in Babylonian documentary sources suggests that they were never acknowledged there and may thus never even have been recognised beyond Persia, though the documentary evidence does generally corroborate the events as described by Ctesias (FGrH 688 F15.47-51).


Briant, Pierre, From Cyrus to Alexander: A History of the Persian Empire, Winona Lake 2002, 588-591.

Stolper, Matthew W., "The Death of Artaxerxes I", in: Archäologische Mitteilungen aus Iran 16 (1983), 223-236.

Zawadzki, Stefan, "The Circumstances of Darius II's Accession in the Light of BM 54557 as against Ctesias' Account", in: Jaarbericht Ex Oriente Lux 34 (1995-1996), 45-49.

Henry Heitmann-Gordon

Henry Heitmann-Gordon, 'Xerxes II and Sogdianus', Achaemenid Royal Inscriptions online (ARIo) Project, The ARIo Project, a sub-project of MOCCI, 2020 [http://oracc.museum.upenn.edu/ario/rulers/xerxesiiandsogdianus/]

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