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This article is about the Assassin. You may be looking for the Persian king.

Artabanus,[1] better known as Darius, was the Persian assassin of King Xerxes I of Persia.

A proponent of free will, he is considered to be one of the very first proto-Assassins and was active several centuries before the order's formal establishment. His assassination of Xerxes I was the first recorded usage of the Hidden Blade, which went on to become the iconic weapon of the Assassin Brotherhood.


During the 5th century BCE, the Cult of Kosmos supported the reign and conquests of the Achaemenid kings Darius I and his son Xerxes I.[2] Opposing the Persian kings' tyranny over the people, Darius personally assassinated King Xerxes I with the Hidden Blade in August 465 BCE, in what would become the first recorded use of the Assassins' iconic weapon.[3]

Later, during the reigh of Xerxes I's son, Artaxerxes I, Darius was hired by the king's brother to eliminate the king. Darius poisoned the young king, taking the man's sight, but was unsuccessful in his assassination attempt. Artaxerxes later spread the tale that Darius had succeeded, so that he might safely escape Persia.[4]


By 48 BCE, Darius' Hidden Blade wound up in the hands of Queen Cleopatra of Egypt, who passed it on to her protector Aya. Aya eventually made one of her own and gave Darius' blade to her husband Bayek. After the two founded the Hidden Ones, it became the signature weapon of their organization,[5] still used centuries later when their Brotherhood reformed as the Assassins.[3]

By the time of the Renaissance, Darius was retroactively considered an Assassin and a tomb dedicated to him was built beneath Santa Maria Novella in Florence, Italy. The Italian Assassin Ezio Auditore da Firenze explored the tomb and took the hidden seal from the tomb's sarcophagus, which later allowed him to obtain the Armor of Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad sealed in the Sanctuary beneath Villa Auditore in Monteriggioni where a statue of Darius (and other celebrated Assassins) had been erected sometime before 1476.[3]


  • Unlike later users of the iconic weapon, Darius wore his Hidden Blade on top of the right arm.
  • Historically, according to Aristotle, Artabanus had murdered the Crown Prince of Persia Darius just prior to killing Xerxes. The Latin historian Justinus however offers an alternative account where Crown Prince Darius was executed for the patricide of Xerxes after being framed by Artabanus.