People > Mazaces


Egypt History - Egyptian Chapter Decoration


Mazaces, also known as Mazakes, was the last Achaemenid satrap (governor) of Egypt. He served during the time of the Achaemenid Empire's control over Egypt and played a crucial role during the transition of power to Alexander the Great. Here's a detailed overview of Mazaces and his role in Egyptian history:

Background and Role as Satrap

  1. Achaemenid Rule in Egypt:

    • The Achaemenid Empire, under the rule of various kings such as Cambyses II, Darius I, and Xerxes I, had a fluctuating control over Egypt. Egypt was first conquered by Cambyses II in 525 BCE.
    • The Achaemenids ruled Egypt as one of their satrapies, and during this period, local governance was often left in the hands of appointed satraps.
  2. Mazaces as Satrap:

    • Mazaces was the satrap of Egypt under the rule of Darius III, the last king of the Achaemenid Empire.
    • His tenure as satrap occurred during a tumultuous period marked by the rapid expansion of Alexander the Great's empire.

The Conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great

  1. Alexander’s Campaign:

    • In 332 BCE, Alexander the Great, after securing his position in Asia Minor and the Levant, marched into Egypt as part of his broader campaign to conquer the Achaemenid Empire.
    • By this time, Alexander had already defeated Darius III at the Battle of Issus in 333 BCE, significantly weakening Achaemenid control over their territories.
  2. Surrender of Egypt:

    • Mazaces, recognizing the futility of resisting Alexander’s well-disciplined and victorious army, chose to surrender rather than engage in a potentially devastating conflict.
    • This surrender was notable because it occurred without a fight, and it indicated a pragmatic approach by Mazaces to avoid unnecessary destruction and bloodshed.
  3. Transition of Power:

    • Mazaces handed over control of Egypt to Alexander peacefully. This included the treasury and administrative apparatus of the region.
    • Alexander’s acceptance of Mazaces’ surrender facilitated a smooth transition and allowed him to consolidate his control over Egypt swiftly.

Aftermath and Legacy

  1. Alexander’s Influence:

    • After the peaceful transition, Alexander the Great was welcomed as a liberator by many Egyptians, who had been under Persian rule for over a century.
    • Alexander founded the city of Alexandria, which would become a major cultural, intellectual, and economic hub in the ancient world.
  2. End of Achaemenid Rule:

    • The surrender by Mazaces marked the end of Achaemenid rule in Egypt and the beginning of a new era under Alexander and subsequently the Ptolemaic Dynasty, established by one of Alexander’s generals, Ptolemy I Soter.
    • The peaceful handover helped preserve the administrative and economic structures of Egypt, facilitating its integration into Alexander's empire.
  3. Historical Perspective:

    • Mazaces is often viewed as a pragmatic leader who made a calculated decision to surrender in the face of overwhelming odds.
    • His actions allowed for a relatively peaceful transition, which contributed to the stability and continuity of governance in Egypt during a period of significant upheaval.

In summary, Mazaces was the last Achaemenid satrap of Egypt, known for his pragmatic decision to surrender to Alexander the Great without resistance. This peaceful transition marked the end of Persian rule and the beginning of a new era under Macedonian influence, leading to the eventual establishment of the Ptolemaic Kingdom in Egypt. Mazaces' actions played a crucial role in the relatively smooth transfer of power and the preservation of Egypt's administrative and economic structures.


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