60: Disaster on the Nile

Disaster on the Nile

Athens was engaging in developing new alliances on the Greek mainland in response to the hostility with Sparta. This would also see a number of campaigns launched by the Athenians to establish their security, these being fought by Sparta’s allies. However, as these events on the mainland were unfolding, a plea for help from a rebel king in Egypt would arrive requesting Athenian assistance in fighting the Persians.

In 465 BC Xerxes would be assassinated bringing his 21-year rule to an end. This would see his son Artaxerxes come to the throne, though, under suspicious circumstances. The coming to the throne of a new king was usually a period that would see regions attempt to breakaway from the empire. Artaxerxes accession would be no exception, seeing Egypt breakout in revolt, led by a Libyan king named Inaros. It would be he who would request the Athenians come and assist them in their bid for freedom.

Athens would sail for Egypt and link up with the rebels in the Nile delta, while a Persian army was dispatched to put the revolt down. An initial battle would see the rebel forces rout the Persians, who would seek refuge at Memphis. A siege would now develop as the Athenians and Egyptians attempted to destroy the rest of the Persian forces. This would not be the end of the campaign, with Persia assembling a new army after Persian gold would not entice the Spartans in attacking the Athenians homeland.

The appearance of this new Persian force in Egypt would now start to see Athens and the rebels fortune change. The siege of Memphis would be broken, the Persians defeating the besieges, this seeing Athens fallback into the Nile delta where they themselves would now be besieged. The majority of the Egyptian rebels would surrender to the Persians, while the Athenian force would be all but destroyed. This seeing the largest disaster suffered by Athens in generations.

Babylonian Tablet referring to Xerxes being assassinated by one of his sons
Locations and dates based off Thucydides account

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