Here Arsaces and his brother Tiridates are derived from the royal house of the Achaemenids, probably from Artaxerxes II.; the young Tiridates is insulted by the prefect Agathocles or Pherecles; in revenge the brothers with five companions (corresponding to the seven Persians of Darius) slay him, and Arsaces becomes king.
But this historical aspect of the myth is of late origin: it is nothing but a reflex of the great Iranian empire founded by the Achaemenids and restored by the Sassanids.
On the contrary, it is historically evident that before the Achaemenids there were in Bactria only small local principalities of which Vishtaspas was one:
The Persian Empire of the Achaemenids.The balance, however, was disturbed in 553 B.C., when the Persian Cyrus, king of Anshan in Elam (Susiana), revolted against Conques~ his suzerain Astyages, the son of Cyaxares, and o, Cynis three years later defeated him at Pasargadae ~i and Shortly afterwards Astyages was taken prisoner, Cambyses, Ecbatana reduced, and the Median Empire replaced by thi Persian.
There existed, in fact, under the Achaemenids a strong colonizing movement, diffused through the whole empire; traces of this policy occur more especially in Armenia, Cappadocia and, Lycia, but also in the rest of Asia Minor, and not rarely in Syria and Egypt.
Are the only Achaemenids who, in their inscriptions, invoke Anaitis and Mithra side by side with Ahuramazda.
In northern Media alone, which lay outside the main scene of operations and had only been partially subject to the later Achaemenids, the Persian satrap Atropates, appointed by Alexander, maintained his independence and bequeathed his province to his successors.
The Uxians, moreover, with the Cossaeans and other mountain tribes, maintained their independence exactly as under the later Achaemenids (Strabo xvi.
It may appear surprising that the Arsacids made no attempt to incorporate the minor states in the empire and create a great and united dominion, such as existed under the Achaemenids and was afterwards restored by the Sassanids.
Although the Arsacids are strangers to any deep religious interest (in contrast to the Achaemenids and Sassanids), they acknowledge the Persian gods and the leading tenets of Zoroastrianism.
The Parthians proved incapable of creating a firm, united organization, such as the Achaemenids before them, and the Sassanids after them gave to their empire.
After the defeat of Artabanus, Ardashir, as heir of the Achaemenids, formulated his pretensions to the dominion of western Asia (Dio.
Therefore the native tradition carries the Sassanid line back to the Achaemenids and, still further, to the kings of the legendary period.
This state of affairs had also prevailed under the later Achaemenids, and had materially contributed to the disintegration of the empire and the numerous insurrections of the satraps.
Ardashir, who was a zealous worshipper of Ahuramazda and in intimate connexion with the magian priests, established the orthodox Zoroastrian creed as the official religion of his new kingdom, persecuted the infidels, and tried to restore the old Persian empire, which under the Achaemenids had extended over the whole of Asia from the Aegean Sea to the Indus.
On the other hand the genealogy of Ardashir has of course been connected with the Achaemenids, on whose behalf he exacts vengeance from the Parthians, and with the legendary kings of old Iran.
Therefore the duty of the believer is to combat and destroy the unbeliever and the heretic. In short, the tolerance of the Achaemenids and the indifference of the Arsacids are now replaced by intolerance and religious persecution.
But the older Achaemenids held an entirely different pQsition; and hardly a single Sassanid enjoyed even that degree of power which was still retained by the later Achaemenids.