People > Sabaces


Egypt History - Egyptian Chapter Decoration


Sabaces, also known as Sarsaces or Sabakes, was a notable Persian satrap (governor) of Egypt during the late Achaemenid Empire. He played a significant role during the Persian rule over Egypt and participated in key military campaigns, including the Battle of Issus. Here is an overview of his tenure and activities:


  1. Achaemenid Rule in Egypt:

    • The Achaemenid Empire, under rulers such as Cambyses II and Darius I, had established control over Egypt in 525 BCE. This period of Persian dominance is often referred to as the Twenty-seventh Dynasty of Egypt.
    • Despite occasional revolts and resistance from the Egyptians, the Persians maintained their rule through a series of appointed satraps who governed the region.
  2. Sabaces as Satrap:

    • Sabaces served as the satrap of Egypt under Darius III, the last king of the Achaemenid Empire. His tenure occurred during a time of significant turmoil and conflict as the empire faced the growing threat of Alexander the Great.

Role and Activities

  1. Administration:

    • As satrap, Sabaces was responsible for maintaining order and overseeing the administration of Egypt. This included managing economic affairs, collecting taxes, and ensuring the loyalty of the local population.
    • Sabaces, like other satraps, would have relied on a network of local officials and Persian administrators to govern effectively.
  2. Military Involvement:

    • Sabaces is most noted for his involvement in the military campaigns against Alexander the Great. Recognizing the threat posed by Alexander, Darius III called upon his satraps to join forces and repel the Macedonian invasion.

Battle of Issus

  1. The Persian Army:

    • The Battle of Issus took place in 333 BCE near the Pinarus River in modern-day Turkey. It was one of the early decisive battles between Alexander the Great and the Persian Empire.
    • Darius III assembled a large army, which included contingents from various parts of the empire, including Egypt. Sabaces led the Egyptian forces as part of this coalition.
  2. The Battle:

    • The battle was marked by intense and chaotic fighting. Despite their numerical advantage, the Persian forces were unable to effectively counter Alexander's well-disciplined and tactically superior Macedonian army.
    • During the battle, Sabaces fought valiantly but was ultimately killed. His death was part of a broader Persian defeat that saw Darius III fleeing the battlefield.

Aftermath and Significance

  1. Impact of Sabaces’s Death:

    • The death of Sabaces at the Battle of Issus was a significant loss for the Persian forces. It not only deprived them of an experienced military leader but also signaled the weakening grip of Persian authority over Egypt.
  2. Persian Decline and Alexander’s Conquest:

    • Following the Battle of Issus, Alexander continued his campaign, eventually reaching Egypt in 332 BCE. With the Persian forces in disarray, Egypt offered little resistance.
    • Alexander was welcomed as a liberator by many Egyptians and went on to establish the city of Alexandria, which would become a major cultural and intellectual center.
  3. Legacy:

    • Sabaces’s role as satrap and his participation in the Battle of Issus highlight the complexities of Persian administration and the challenges faced by the Achaemenid Empire in its final years.
    • His death and the subsequent Persian defeats paved the way for the establishment of Macedonian rule over Egypt and the broader Hellenistic influence that followed.


Sabaces, the Persian satrap of Egypt, played a crucial role during a turbulent period in the late Achaemenid Empire. His tenure is most notably marked by his participation and death in the Battle of Issus, a key conflict against Alexander the Great. The battle’s outcome significantly influenced the decline of Persian power in Egypt and facilitated Alexander's subsequent conquest. Sabaces’s story underscores the broader struggles of the Persian Empire as it faced the rising tide of Macedonian expansion.

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