Kavehfarrokh.com refers readers to an excellent article by Nabil Rastani on the topic of Ariobarzan’s exploits which first appeared on Iranian.com on May 23, 2011. Kindly note that apart from the first picture , all other pictures and captions (including caption for the first picture) in Nabil Rastani’s article below come from a variety of sources utilized by kavehfarrokh.com as as well by Kaveh Farrokh’’s lectures at the University of British Columbia’s Continuing Studies Division and Stanford University’s WAIS 2006 Critical World Problems Conference Presentations on July 30-31, 2006).
The reason for this rather unorthodox title is the fact that the so called “last stand of the 300 Spartans” in 480 BC is said to have been a battle in which tyranny and evil (East, Persia) fought against freedom and good (West, Greece ) and is sometimes said to have been the “only battle were a smaller army stood up to a larger one, until utter destruction”. However little know of the stand made by Ariobarzanes, and the heroic few who were armed with little but fought and withstood 31 days of brutal and aggressive fighting against Alexander and the Macedonians until at last they were ultimately destroyed in 330BC. This article studies the regrettably ignored valiant stand by Persian commander Ariobarzanes who died from the ideal of freedom.
Bust of ArioBarzan which appeared in Nabil Rastani’s article in Iranian.com on May 23, 2011.Ariobarzan (Old Persian Ariyabrdna – lit. Glory/Glorifying the Aryans) is well-known for being the last Iranian military commander to combat against Alexander’s conquest of Achaemeniud Persia in 333-323 BC. Ariobarzan was to inflict a major defeat agianst Alexander before being finally overwhelmed by the latter’s forces in 331 BC. For more on this topic readers are referred to pp. 106-107 in Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War-Персы: Армия великих царей-سایههای صحرا-.
Biography of Ariobarzanes
Little is known about Ariobarzanes (Old Persian Ariyabrdna) life or his exact birth date; however historical evidence tells us that he was born into a wealthy, noble Persian family and he is probably descended from the earlier satraps of Cyrus the Great, Darius I and Xerxes I. It is interesting to note the fact that high King Darius III had appointed him satrap (or viceroy) of Persis. It seems that in the past, this position had not existed. This possibly means that Ariobarzanes was either a close friend or relative of Darius III Codomannus. It may also means that Darius, who had come to power in a period of great confusion and civil strife, needed a reliable man at home while he was away, fighting against the Macedonians and Alexander at Issus and Gaugamela. With such a high office of being in charge of Persis and thus, Persepolis the capital of the Achaemenid Persian Empire, were a vast sum of gold was kept.
My guess is that Ariobarzanes was in his late thirties when he was slain although there is little verification to back this up. Despite there being little on is precise birth date of Ariobarzanes, it is speculated that he was born around 368 BC and died in 330BC (aged 38). If this is true then he was born during the reign of Artaxerxes II Mnemon (405-358 BC), a time of upheaval and rebellion throughout the Achaemenid Empire. Throughout most of his youth he would have (like all Persian boys) gone through rigorous training and so he would have had to be able to withstand hardship, and learn to live on very little.
According to a small number of sources he was related to a satrap of Hellespont of the same name, but this is unlikely due to the fact that there is no classical reference to any relation between the two Ariobarzanes and it may just be coincidence. Albeit if it is true then our Ariobarzanes is “Ariobarzanes II.”
Re-writing History: the historical Alexander as portrayed by the Pompei mosaic (3rd century BC)(left) and Dr. Fox’s 2004 Eurocentrist interpretation of Alexander and ancient Greeks (right) in the movie “Alexander”. Thanks in large part to Dr. Fox’s historical advising, virtually no Greek actors of note were hired to portray historical Greeks in the Alexander movie. In Eurocentrist tradition, Ancient Greeks were simply “Nordified” in the movie, meaning they are portrayed as fair-complexted Northern Europeans rather than Mediterraneans and/or southern Europeans. Arab and North African extras were overwhelmingly used to portray ancient Iranians – again a result of Dr. Fox’s Eurocentirst views of the ancient world and Iran in particular(Pictures used in Kaveh Farrokh’’s lectures at the University of British Columbia’s Continuing Studies Division and Stanford University’s WAIS 2006 Critical World Problems Conference Presentations on July 30-31, 2006).
During the Battle of Gaugamela Alexander the Great of Macedon had led a highly organized force of troops to conquer the Persian Empire . He was a young man in his twenties but none the less he was a brilliant commander and tactician with his armies he utterly crushed many armies of Darius III of Persia, at the Granicus River at Issus in 333BC and finally at the Battle of Gaugamela in northern Iraq. It was here that Darius made a desperate final attempt to beat Alexander, Darius now gathered the largest and most powerful army the Achaemenid Empire had ever compiled containing Greek mercenaries, Iranian, Indian and Bactrian cavalry and 15 war elephants imported from central India, 250 scythed chariots, elite immortal infantry and some 50,000 other cavalry and infantry forces as well as archers. This was compared to the 47,000 strong Macedonian army containing archers, phalanxes and companion cavalry. Darius had levelled the ground out for his chariots to ride smoothly. He also ordered all stones and vegetation to be removed from the field. One more addition to this was the use of “caltrops” a metal spike that was used to cripple a horse or mans foots that would step on them.
Not surprisingly Ariobarzanes commanded a regiment of soldiers from the Persian Gulf region. These men served mostly as heavy infantry, it is also not surprising to find the satrap of Persis as commander of these troops, because Persis is situated north of the Persian Gulf . Alexander and his forces however decisively won the battle and Darius along with Ariobarzanes fled from the battle having lost yet another major fight.