336 - 330 B.C.
A cousin of Artaxerxes III, he was raised to the throne controversially by the eunuch Bagoas, who had murdered both Artaxerxes and his son, Arses; Darius III then asserted his authority over Bagoas, who then attempted to poison him. Darius III fittingly forced Bagoas to drink his own poison. His rule was not stable, however. When Alexander the Great invaded Persia, Darius was defeated in the battle of Issus (333 B.C.) and again in the battle of Gaugamela near Arbela (331 B.C.). For the first time Persia was confronted by a united Greece, and Darius' greatest error was in underestimating Alexander's strength. Darius used the wrong tactics in battle and was forced to flee to Ecbatana and then eastward to Bactria. It was there that the satrap of Bactria, Bessus, had Darius murdered on Alexander's approach and took command himself in the unsuccessful opposition to the Macedonian conqueror. These events brought the Persian Empire to an end and marked the beginning of the Hellenistic period in the eastern Mediterranean.
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Senior Project : 2001-2002 The Great Persian Empire Website