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Persian Empire

Tripoli-Lebanon And The :
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) Phoenicians
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) Persian Empire
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) Selucid Empire
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) Emperors of Rome
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) Arabs
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WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) Slave Sultan of Egypt (Mamalik )
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) Ottomans
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) Offshore Islands


One of the great landmarks of ancient history is the war which broke out early in the fifth century B.C. between the Greeks and Persians. The conquest by the Persians of the East Mediterranean coast and of the Greek cities and islands of Asia Minor brought them into closer contact with mainland Greece. The ambition of Darius knew no bounds and a joint military and naval expedition was prepared by him to invade Greece.’ Persia was not a sea power at the time and the enterprising Phoenicians provided the Persians with ships and crews in return for which they were allowed to keep their autonomy. It is likely that the Phoenicians even encouraged the Persian king to lead an expedition against Greece for it was to their advantage commercially that Greece become involved in a drawn -out war with Persia. The Greeks had established trading colonies throughout the Mediterranean and were becoming a serious challenge to Phoenician penetration of foreign markets. Throughout the Greek and Persian war the kings of the Phoenician cities commanded their naval contingents and were considered by the Persians as allies and not as vassals.             Top page

At the death of Darius, his son Xerxes decided to invade Greece both by land and by sea. One of the decisive naval encounters between Greeks and Persians took place at Salamis, Greece in the presence of the king who viewed the battle on Mount Aegaleos seated on a silver footed throne. Phoenician contingents took part in the battle but due to the narrowness of the straits and the fact that the Athenians and their allies were fighting in home waters, they were at a disadvantage and were defeated.3The disaster was a blow to Persian prestige. When some of the captains appeared before him to furnish explanations, Xerxes had them executed on the spot. Other Phoenician commanders became so alarmed that they deserted the fleet and sailed away. Top page

This could be a reason why for the following fifteen years there is no record of Phoenician participation in the war. When in 465 B.C. the victorious Athenians threatened the island of Cyprus the theater of naval operations moved to Cypriote and Phoenician waters. The Phoenician cities sent fleets in support of the Persians and from 465 to 390 they protected Cyprus from the Athenians, more than once fighting them off. Many cities of Cyprus were Phoenician colonies and it was therefore natural that the Phoenicians on the mainland felt concerned.

Egypt after years under Persian rule was determined to break away from the Empire. The pharaohs of the Twenty-ninth and Thirtieth dynasties did their utmost to instigate rebellions in Cyprus and Phoenicia against Persia. Repeated attempts by Persian kings to regain Egypt failed with the result that the Phoenicians and the kings of Cyprus were encouraged and in 366 B.C. joined the dissident satraps who wished to revolt from Persia. Top page

At this time the city-states of Aradus, Sidon and Tyre were united by federal bonds. A common council or "parliament" was held by them on neutral ground in the northern Phoenician port city of Tripolis. Three distinct residential quarters existed in Tripolis at a slight distance from each other and were known as "the city of the Aradians", "the city of the Tyrians" and "the city of the Sidonians" It is for this reason that ancient historians and geographers refer to the city in their accounts as "Tripolis" or the "Tri-city".

In 358 B.C. Artaxerxes III ascended the throne of Persia. His position was far from secure and he could not deal successfully with a rebellion in his satrapies until he brought Egypt once again within Persia’s political sphere. His failure to do so brought about the great Phoenician revolt in 351 B.C. led by Tennes, king of Sidoni. Several scholars believe that the revolt was sparked off in the northern Phoenician city of Tripolis and later spread to Sidon. Diodorus of Sicily who has recorded this event has based his account on the lost work of the Greek historian Hieronymous of Cardia who wrote toward the end of the fourth century B.C. Diodorus records: Top page

Now the satraps and generals had their headquarters in the city of the Sidonians and in their decrees had been treating the Sidonians with contemptuous violence. Therefore the recipients of this treatment resenting the insults, determined to revolt from the Persians. Top page

Diodorus in his history never calls Sidon proper in southern Phoencia the "city of the Sidonians", therefore this passage suggests that he is making a reference to the Sidonian quarter of Tripoli. In this quarter of the city the Persian satraps may have also had their residence. Thus when the Phoenician cities met in their common councils, the satraps could report on political developments with little delay to the Persian king. Diodorus relates that the Sidonians persuaded other Phoenician cities to join in the revolt and even went so far as to enlist the aid of the Egyptian pharaoh, a traditional enemy of the Persians. They convinced him to take them on as allies and began preparations for war. Top page

Diodorus gives us an account of the provocative measures taken by the Phoenicians at the instigation of the Sidonians. They cut down and destroyed the paradeisos (king’s park), burned the fodder for the horses of the Persian cavalry, arrested and punished Persians who protested News of these ominous events reached the ears of the king. He set out at once from Babylon on a punitive expedition against the Phoenician cities.

As Artaxerxes marched towards Phoenicia, news of the great size of the Persian army reached King Tennes of Sidon. Fearing that his forces could not hold them off, he decided to come to secret terms with the Persians in order to spare his own life. Sidon was handed over treacherously and its inhabitants set fire to the city, preferring to perish than face the Persian king’s wrath. After the terrible disaster experienced by Sidon no further attempt was made by the Phoenician cities to revolt from Persia. Sidon was rebuilt but the Sidonians could not put aside their deep -rooted hatred for the Persians and waited patiently for another occasion to regain their independence. Top page

Historical References


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