MENTOR and MEMNON, Rhodian brothers, condottieri of the late Achaemenid period. They aided Artabazus in securing the succession to his father Pharnabazus’s satrapy of Dascylium and as a reward received a large fief in the Troad (Demosthenes, 23.154; cf. Arrian, Anabasis 1.78, Strabo 13.1.11). Henceforth they were closely linked with Artabazus, who married their sister and whose daughter Barsine married Mentor (Arr., 7.4.6) and after Mentor’s death perhaps Memnon. They supported Artabazus in his revolt against Artaxerxes Ochus (353 BCE; see ARTAXERXES III) and had to flee after his defeat. Mentor went to Egypt, independent at the time from Persia, while Memnon and Artabazus found refuge at the court of Philip II of Macedon. When Artaxerxes prepared his invasion of Egypt, Mentor was sent by Nectanebo of Egypt to hold Sidon against him, but apparently persuaded its ruler Tennes to join him in betraying the city to Artaxerxes, whom he later aided in his re-conquest of Egypt (343). He formed a close alliance with the powerful minister Bagoas and was given supreme command of Asia Minor. He also gained amnesty for Memnon and Artabazus, who now returned, bringing important information about Philip’s plans for his invasion of Asia and about his supporters there, against whom Mentor could now act (Diodorus, 16.47-52).
Mentor died before Philip’s invasion and Memnon was not trusted to succeed him in supreme command. He fought against the Macedonians and after Philip’s death succeeded at keeping them confined to a small beachhead at Abydos. When Alexander landed, Memnon advised the satraps of Asia Minor to adopt a scorched-earth policy, but they rejected the advice and tried to stop Alexander at the Granicus River. After their disastrous defeat he escaped and was appointed supreme commander of Asia Minor, but had to send his family to Darius as hostages (Diod., 17.18.2-3, 23.5-6; cf. Arr., 1.20.3). He failed to hold Miletus, but threw a strong force into Halicarnassus, which he defended for a long time with skill and determination. In the end he had to abandon the city, but succeeded in ferrying most of the army across to Cos. The satrap Orontobates held out for some time after this in the citadel (Diod., 17.23-27; Arrian, 1.20.2-23.3, 2.7.5).
Memnon now conceived the audacious plan of carrying the war to Greece, where he could be sure of much support and where Agis of Sparta was preparing open war against Macedon. But first the islands had to be secured. Several of them were seized, as was most of Lesbos, but, while besieging Mitylene, Memnon died of disease (Arr., 2.1.1-3; Diod. 17.29, falsely crediting him with taking Mitylene). “With his death Darius’s cause was also shattered” (Diod., 17.29.4).
Sources. The main sources are Arrian, Anabasis, Books 1 and 2,and Diodorus, Books 16 and 17.
H. Berve, Das Alexanderreich auf prosopographischer Grundlage, Munich, 1926 (repr., Salem, N.H., 1988), II, pp. 250-53 (no. 497: Memnon).
J. Hofstetter, Die Griechen in Persien, Berlin, 1978, pp. 125-27 (Memnon, no. 215), pp. 129-31 (Mentor, no. 220).
February 27, 2006
Originally Published: August 15, 2006
Last Updated: August 15, 2006