(originally Arsakes, surnamed Mnemon by the Greeks): The eldest son of Darius II.; succeeded his father in 404 B.C. (Diodorus, xiii. 108), and adopted the name of his grandfather Artaxerxes. He reigned until 359; that is, 46 years.
Artaxerxes II. seems to have been of a noble disposition; but, despite personal bravery, he was feeble in character, and under subjection to his imperious mother, Parysatis, who favored her younger son Cyrus to the extent of desiring the throne for him. After Cyrus' rebellion, and his death in the battle of Cunaxa (401 B.C.), Parysatis ruled the king completely and led him into the gravest crimes. Owing to his weakness, he was not the man to save the effete and dying Persian empire. Immediately upon his accession Egypt declared and maintained its independence. His whole reign was filled with rebellions and uprisings by satraps, especially in Asia Minor and Syria, though Palestine, then under the rule of the high priests, seems to have steered clear of any participation. Nevertheless, the internal distractions of the Greek world enabled him to succeed in the main in asserting that supremacy over Greece that Darius and Xerxes had vainly aimed at. After having diverted the attack of the Spartans by inciting their war against Corinth, he succeeded, through conjunction with Sparta and Dionysus I. of Sicily, in imposing his will upon the Greeks by the celebrated "Peace of the King," in 387 B.C. For decades thereafter, this "King's Peace" was the law in Greece, against which no state dared rebel.
Bibliography:G. E. Me.
- Greek histories, especially Plutarch's biography of this king, are full of information concerning Artaxerxes II.; but the suggested connection with the history of Ezra, made by some historians, is without foundation.