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Bessus was satrap of Bactria and Sogdiana under Darius III.

In the battle of Gaugamela (October 1 331 BC) he commanded the troops of his satrapy. When Alexander pursued the Persian king on his flight to the East (summer 330), Bessus with some of the other conspirators deposed Darius and shortly afterwards killed him.

He then tried to organize a national resistance against the Macedonian conqueror in the eastern provinces, proclaimed himself king and adopted the name Artaxerxes. But he was taken prisoner by treachery in the summer of 329. Alexander sent him to Ecbatana, where he was condemned to death. Before his execution his nose and ears were cut off, according to the Persian custom; we learn from the Behistun inscription that Darius I punished the usurpers in the same way.

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.