Artaxerxes lll

Sep 2014
941
Texas
When I was reading Olmstead's History of the Persian Empire, I learned about a eunuch named Bagoas who was a vizier to Artaxerxes III. He was also a master poisoner who left a lot of bodies in his wake. Bagoas - Wikipedia

Olmstead in his history of Persia said that if anyone could have taken on Alexander III and beat him, it was Artaxerxes lll. That Bagoas was the man who put Darius lll on the throne.

Question: could Artaxes lll saved his kingdom from the Macedonian. And yes, I am sympathetic to Persia because of Olmstead who clearly cared nothing for Alexander. But could Artaxerxes III stopped him?
 
Apr 2019
110
Ireland
According to Bosworth, Artaxerxes III was the strongest and most capable occupant of the Achaemenid throne since the revolts that culminated in Cunaxa. For much of the period from Cunaxa to his accession there were constant revolts in the satrapies west of Susa. Artaxerxes brought these under control and reconquered Egypt. Bagoas as you say was indeed a shady character and acted as Kingmaker on more than one occasion. One can't help feel of a climate of suspicion engendered by these occurrences.
Bosworth also contends that some of the successes of Artaxerxes were illusory, for instance the use of Greek mercenaries brought a lot of his successes and Byblos fell after treachery. This may be a bit harsh as I'm sure that Greek Mercenaries and treachery were endemic at this period.
Certainly he may have been a stronger ruler, more action orientated and commanding greater respect, however would he not have required more than these traits to stop the Macedonians?
 
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Nov 2011
1,051
The Bluff
Bagoas as you say was indeed a shady character and acted as Kingmaker on more than one occasion. One can't help feel of a climate of suspicion engendered by these occurrences.
Bagoas was one of the Persian overall commanders of the army which restored Egypt. Typically, Greek sources credit this all to Greek merenaries and like to portray people such as Mentor of Rhodes as crucial. The fact that Bagoas is subsequently found as a form of overseer of the eastern or upper satrapies indicates that Ochus found his work in Egypt more than acceptable. Late in Ochus' reign Bagoas is chiliarch - the highest position in the empire below the king and commander of his guard and "kinsmen". Diodoros likes to present him as a completely untrustworthy rogue of seemingly unlimited ambition. Enough that he would poison Ochus and his entire family to play kingmaker and make Arses his puppet. In fact, several of Ochus' family are later found alive when Alexander invades and the Astronomical Diary (BM 7137) claims Ochus died of natural causes. This is not the only time these tablets contradict Greek tropes, such as Dareios III being deserted by his troops at Guagamela rather than the other around. In any case, Bagoas may well have ensured the succession of Arses by murdering those closest in line if Ochus had not done so himself.

As to whether Ochus would have defeated Alexander, that is speculative. Ochus faced the usual succession satrapal upheavals but nothing like an invasion of the heartland of the empire. He was a very energetic ruler in the manner of Antiochus III for the Seleukid Empire. Dareios III never had the time to show what he would have been like and so the comparison is, like many such, fraught.
 
Apr 2019
110
Ireland
Diodoros likes to present him as a completely untrustworthy rogue of seemingly unlimited ambition.
Matt Waters agrees with you here about a lot of what Diodorus has to say not just about Bagoas but also about some of the other court machinations and events of the period already alluded to above.
He believes a lot of what Diodorus has to say is based on stereotypical views of the Achaemenid's being cruel and barbarous. As you already stated there is also the point of overplaying the role of Greek mercenaries. He also claims of Persian ignorance of leading armies into the marshes of Egypt while invading, when the routes to and from here would have been familiar to them.
As for the overall question of whether Artaxerxes III could have been a better opponent to Alexander than a Darius, it is hard for me to say yes or no.... Would not a grand Persian victory at the Granicus, Issus or Arbela have landed the Macedonians in it, especially if Alexander had been killed?