A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology

Smith, William

A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology. William Smith, LLD, ed. 1890

(Ἀρταΰκτης), a Persian, the son of Cherasmis, commanded the Macrones and Mosynoeci in the expedition of Xerxes into Greece. He was at the time governor of the town of Sestus and its territory on the Hellespont, where he ruled as an arbitrary and reckless tyrant. When Xerxes passed through Sestus, Artayctes induced the king by fraud to give him the tomb and sacred land of the hero Protesilaus, which existed at Elaeus near Sestus; he then pillaged the tomb, and made profane use of the sacred land. This sacrilegious act was not forgiven him by the Greeks. He did not expect to see an enemy at such a distance from Athens; when, therefore, in B. C. 479, Xanthippus appeared in the Hellespont with a fleet, Artayctes was not prepared for a siege. However the town was strongly fortified and able to resist a besieging army. Xanthippus continued his siege during the whole winter, but on the approach of spring the famine in the town became insupportable; and Artayctes and Oeobazus, a Persian of high rank, succeeded in making their escape through the lines of the besiegers. As soon as the Greek inhabitants of Sestus heard of the flight of their governor,

they opened their gates to the Athenians. The two fugitives were pursued, and Artayctes and his son were overtaken and brought before Xanthippus. Artayctes offered 100 talents to the inhabitants of Elaeus as an atonement for the outrage he had committed on the tomb of Protesilaus, and 200 more as a ransom for himself and his son. But the inhabitants would not accept any other atonement than his life, and Xanthippus was obliged to give him up to them. Artayctes was then nailed to a cross, and his son stoned to death before his eves. (Hdt. 7.33, 78, 9.116, 118-120 ; Paus. 1.4.5.)