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Cyrus II of Persia (; peo, 𐎤𐎢𐎽𐎢𐏁, translit=Kūruš), commonly known as Cyrus the Great and also called Cyrus the Elder by the
Greeks The Greeks or Hellenes (; el, Έλληνες, ''Éllines'' ) are an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has cer ...
, was the founder of the
Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, translit=Xšāça, translation=The Empire), also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and offi ...

Achaemenid Empire
, the
first Persian empire
first Persian empire
. Schmitt Achaemenid dynasty (i. The clan and dynasty) Under his rule, the empire embraced all of the previous civilized states of the
ancient Near East The ancient Near East was the home of early civilization  A civilization (or civilisation) is a complex society A complex society is a concept that is shared by a range of disciplines including anthropology, archaeology, history and s ...
, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of
Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion of the larger geographical region of Asia, as defined by some academics, UN bodies and other institutions. It is almost entirely a part of the Middle East, and includes Anat ...

Western Asia
and much of
Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the east, and from Afghanistan and Iran in the south to Russia in the north, including the former Soviet Union, Soviet republics of the Sov ...

Central Asia
. Spanning from the
Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a connected to the , surrounded by the and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by and and , on the south by , and on the east by the . The Sea has played a central role in the . Although the Mediterrane ...
and
Hellespont The Dardanelles (; tr, Çanakkale Boğazı, lit=Strait of Çanakkale, el, Δαρδανέλλια, translit=Dardanéllia), also known as Strait of Gallipoli from the Gallipoli peninsula or from Classical Antiquity as the Hellespont (; gr ...
in the west to the
Indus River The Indus ( ) is a transboundary river A transboundary river is a river that crosses at least one political border, either a border within a nation or an international boundary. Bangladesh has the highest number of these rivers, including t ...

Indus River
in the east, the empire created by Cyrus was the largest the world had yet seen. At its maximum extent under his successors, the Achaemenid Empire stretched from parts of the
Balkans The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, are a geographic area in southeastern Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rathe ...

Balkans
( Eastern BulgariaPaeonia and
Thrace Thrace (; el, Θράκη, Thráki; bg, Тракия, Trakiya; tr, Trakya) or Thrake is a geographical and historical region in Southeast Europe, now split among Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey, which is bounded by the Balkan Mountains to th ...
Macedonia Macedonia most commonly refers to: * North Macedonia North Macedonia, ; sq, Maqedonia e Veriut, (Macedonia until February 2019), officially the Republic of North Macedonia,, is a country in Southeast Europe. It gained independence in ...
) and
Southeast Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to th ...

Southeast Europe
proper in the west to the
Indus Valley The Indus ( ) is a transboundary river A transboundary river is a river that crosses at least one political border, either a border within a nation or an international boundary. Bangladesh has the highest number of these rivers, including tw ...
in the east. The reign of Cyrus lasted about thirty years; his empire took root with his conquest of the
Median Empire bas-relief Relief is a sculptural technique in which the sculpted elements remain attached to a solid background of the same material. The term ''wikt:relief, relief'' is from the Latin verb ''relevo'', to raise. To create a sculpture in ...
followed by the
Lydian Empire Lydian may refer to: * Lydians, an ancient people of Anatolia * Lydian language, an ancient Anatolian language * Lydian alphabet ** Lydian (Unicode block) * Lydian (typeface), a decorative typeface * Lydian dominant scale or acoustic scale, a music ...

Lydian Empire
and eventually the
Neo-Babylonian Empire The Neo-Babylonian Empire, also known as the Second Babylonian Empire and historically known as the Chaldean Empire, was the last of the Mesopotamian empires to be ruled by monarchs native to Mesopotamia. Beginning with Nabopolassar's coronation as ...

Neo-Babylonian Empire
. He also led an expedition into Central Asia, which resulted in major campaigns that were described as having brought "into subjection every nation without exception". Cyrus did not venture into
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
, and was alleged to have died in battle while fighting the
Massagetae The Massagetae, or Massageteans, (Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its popul ...
along the Syr Darya in December 530 BC.Cyrus's date of death can be deduced from the last two references to his own reign (a tablet from Borsippa dated to 12 August and the final from Babylon 12 September 530 BC) and the first reference to the reign of his son Cambyses (a tablet from Babylon dated to 31 August and or 4 September), but an undocumented tablet from the city of Kish dates the last official reign of Cyrus to 4 December 530 BC; see R.A. Parker and W.H. Dubberstein, ''Babylonian Chronology 626 B.C. – A.D. 75'', 1971. However,
Xenophon Xenophon of Athens (; grc, Ξενοφῶν Xenophon of Athens (; grc-gre, Ξενοφῶν, , ''Xenophōn''; – 354 BC) was an Athenian , image_skyline = File:Athens Montage L.png, center, 275px, alt=Athens mont ...

Xenophon
claimed that Cyrus did not die in battle and returned to the Achaemenid ceremonial capital of
Persepolis Persepolis (; peo, 𐎱𐎠𐎼𐎿, ; ) was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, , translit=Xšāça, translation=The Empire), also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient based in foun ...

Persepolis
again. He was succeeded by his son,
Cambyses II Cambyses II ( peo, 𐎣𐎲𐎢𐎪𐎡𐎹 ''Kabūjiya'') was the second King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, translit=Xšāça, translation=The Empire), also called the First Persian Empire, wa ...

Cambyses II
, who managed to conquer Egypt,
Nubia Nubia () (Nobiin Nobiin, or Mahas, is a Northern Nubian languages, Nubian language of the Nilo-Saharan languages, Nilo-Saharan language family. "Nobiin" is the genitive case, genitive form of ''Nòòbíí'' ("Nubian") and literally means "(lan ...

Nubia
and
Cyrenaica Cyrenaica ( ; ar, برقة, Barqah; grc-koi, Κυρηναϊκή παρχία Kurēnaïkḗ parkhíā after the city of Cyrene, Libya, Cyrene) is the eastern coastal region of Libya. Also known as ''Pentapolis'' ("Five Cities") in A ...

Cyrenaica
during his short rule. Cyrus is well-known for having respected the customs and religions of the lands he conquered. Dandamayev Cyrus (iii. Cyrus the Great) Cyrus's religious policies. This became a very successful model for centralized administration and established a government that worked to the advantage and profit of its subjects. The administration of the Achaemenid Empire through
satraps Satraps () were the governors of the province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or state. The term derives from the ancient Roman '' provincia'', which was the major territorial and administrative unit of ...
and the vital principle of forming a central government at
Pasargadae Pasargadae (from grc, Πασαργάδαι, from Old Persian ''Pāθra-gadā'', "protective club" or "strong club"; Modern Persian: ''Pāsārgād'') was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, tr ...
were the works of Cyrus. The Cambridge Ancient History Vol. IV p. 42. See also: G. Buchaman Gray and D. Litt, ''The foundation and extension of the Persian empire'', Chapter I in ''The Cambridge Ancient History Vol. IV'', 2nd edition, published by The University Press, 1927. p. 15. Excerpt: ''The administration of the empire through satrap, and much more belonging to the form or spirit of the government, was the work of Cyrus ...'' The Edict of Restoration, a proclamation attested by a cylinder seal in which Cyrus authorized and encouraged the return of the
Israelites The Israelites (; ) were a confederation of Iron Age ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, Semitic-speaking tribes of the ancient Near East, who inhabited a part of Canaan during the history of ancient Israel and Judah, tribal and monarchic peri ...

Israelites
to the
Land of Israel The Land of Israel () is the traditional Jewish name for an area of indefinite geographical extension in the Southern Levant The Southern Levant is a geographical region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical ...

Land of Israel
following his conquest of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, is described in the
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common supra-regional form of Gree ...

Bible
and likewise left a lasting legacy on the
Jewish religion Judaism ( he, יהדות, ''Yahadut''; originally from Hebrew , ''Yehudah'', "Kingdom of Judah, Judah", via Ancient Greek, Greek ''Ioudaismos''; the term itself is of Anglo-Latin origin c. 1400) is an Abrahamic primarily ethnic religion co ...
due to his role in ending the
Babylonian captivity The Babylonian captivity or Babylonian exile is the period in Jewish history during which a number of people from the ancient Kingdom of Judah were captives in Babylon, the capital of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. After the Battle of Carchemish in ...
and facilitating the Jewish return to Zion. According to Isaiah 45:1 of the
Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites ...

Hebrew Bible
,
God In monotheistic Monotheism is the belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the ...
anointed Cyrus for this task, even referring to him as a
messiah In Abrahamic religions, a messiah or messias (; , ; , ; ) is a salvation, saviour or liberator of a group of people. The concepts of ''Messiah in Judaism, mashiach'', Messianism#Judaism, messianism, and of a Messianic Age#Judaism, Messianic Ag ...
(); Cyrus is the only non-
Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and nation originating from the Israelites Israelite origins and kingdom: "The first act in the long drama of Jewish history is ...

Jewish
figure in the Bible to be revered in this capacity. Cyrus is also well recognized for his achievements in
human rights Human rights are moral A moral (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. ...
,
politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between individuals, such as the distribution of res ...

politics
, and
military strategy Military strategy is a set of ideas implemented by military organization Military organization or military organisation is the structuring of the s of a so as to offer such as a may require. In some countries forces are included in a nati ...
, as well as his influence on both
Eastern Eastern may refer to: Transportation *China Eastern Airlines, a current Chinese airline based in Shanghai *Eastern Air, former name of Zambia Skyways *Eastern Air Lines, a defunct American airline that operated from 1926 to 1991 *Eastern Air Lin ...

Eastern
and Western civilizations. Having originated from
Persis Persis ( grc-gre, , ''Persís''), better known in English as Persia (Old Persian Old Persian is one of the two directly attested Old Iranian languages (the other being Avestan language, Avestan) and it is the ancestor of Middle Persian (the l ...
, roughly corresponding to the modern-day
Fars Province Fars Province (; fa, استان فارس, , ), also known as Pars (Sasanian province), Pars (, ) as well as Persis and Persia, is one of the thirty-one provinces of Iran. With an area of 122,400 km², it is located in Iran's southwest, in R ...
of
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
, Cyrus has played a crucial role in defining the national identity of modern Iran. The Achaemenid influence in the ancient world would eventually extend as far as
Athens , image_skyline = File:Athens Montage L.png, center, 275px, alt=Athens montage. Clicking on an image in the picture causes the browser to load the appropriate article. rect 15 15 985 460 Acropolis of Athens rect 15 475 48 ...
, where upper-class Athenians adopted aspects of the culture of the ruling class of Achaemenid Persia as their own. Cyrus is a cult figure amongst modern Iranians, with his tomb serving as a spot of reverence for millions of people. In the 1970s, the last
Shah of Iran This article lists the monarchs of Persia Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran ( fa, جمهوری اسلامی ایران ), is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, also West A ...
,
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi Mohammad Reza Pahlavi ( fa, محمدرضا پهلوی, ; 26 October 1919 – 27 July 1980), also known as Mohammad Reza Shah (), was the last '' Shah'' ( King) of Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and officially th ...

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
, identified Cyrus' famous proclamation inscribed onto the
Cyrus Cylinder The Cyrus Cylinder or Cyrus Charter is an ancient clay cylinder, now broken into several pieces, on which is written a declaration in Akkadian language, Akkadian cuneiform script in the name of Persia's Achaemenid Empire, Achaemenid king Cyrus the ...

Cyrus Cylinder
as the oldest-known declaration of human rights,Neil MacGregor, "The whole world in our hands", in ''Art and Cultural Heritage: Law, Policy, and Practice'', pp. 383–84, ed. Barbara T. Hoffman. Cambridge University Press, 2006. and the Cylinder has since been popularized as such. This view has been criticized by some
Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western world, countries that ide ...

Western
historians as a misunderstanding of the Cylinder's generic nature as a traditional statement that new monarchs make at the beginning of their reign.


Etymology

The name ''Cyrus'' is a Latinized form derived from the
Greek-language Greek (modern , romanized: ''Elliniká'', Ancient Greek, ancient , ''Hellēnikḗ'') is an independent branch of the Indo-European languages, Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus, Albania, other parts of the Eastern Medite ...
name Κῦρος (''Kỹros''), which itself was derived from the
Old Persian Old Persian is one of the two directly attested Old Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of the Indo-Iranian languagesIndo-Iranian may refer to: * Indo-Iranian languages * Indo-Iranians, the various peoples speaking ...
name ''Kūruš''. The name and its meaning have been recorded within ancient inscriptions in different languages. The
ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the diale ...
historians
Ctesias Ctesias (; grc, Κτησίας, ''Ktēsíās'', fifth century BC), also known as Ctesias the Cnidian or Ctesias of Cnidus, was a Hellenic civilization, Greek physician and historian from the town of Cnidus in Caria, who lived during the time that ...
and
Plutarch Plutarch (; grc-gre, Πλούταρχος, ''Ploútarchos''; ; AD 46 – after AD 119) was a Greek Middle Platonist Middle Platonism is the modern name given to a stage in the development of Platonic philosophy, lasting from about 90 BC&nbs ...

Plutarch
stated that Cyrus was named from the
Sun The Sun is the star A star is an astronomical object consisting of a luminous spheroid of plasma (physics), plasma held together by its own gravity. The List of nearest stars and brown dwarfs, nearest star to Earth is the Sun. Many othe ...

Sun
(''Kuros''), a concept which has been interpreted as meaning "like the Sun" (''Khurvash'') by noting its relation to the Persian noun for Sun, ''khor'', while using ''-vash'' as a suffix of likeness.;
Plutarch Plutarch (; grc-gre, Πλούταρχος, ''Ploútarchos''; ; AD 46 – after AD 119) was a Greek Middle Platonist Middle Platonism is the modern name given to a stage in the development of Platonic philosophy, lasting from about 90 BC&nbs ...

Plutarch
, ''Artaxerxes'' 1.
classics.mit.edu
Photius Photios I ( el, Φώτιος, ''Phōtios''; c. 810/820 – 6 February 893), also spelled PhotiusFr. Justin Taylor, essay "Canon Law in the Age of the Fathers" (published in Jordan Hite, T.O.R., & Daniel J. Ward, O.S.B., "Readings, Cases, Material ...
, ''Epitome of
Ctesias Ctesias (; grc, Κτησίας, ''Ktēsíās'', fifth century BC), also known as Ctesias the Cnidian or Ctesias of Cnidus, was a Hellenic civilization, Greek physician and historian from the town of Cnidus in Caria, who lived during the time that ...
' Persica'' 5
livius.org
/ref> Karl Hoffmann has suggested a translation based on the meaning of an
Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation ...
root "to humiliate", and accordingly, the name "Cyrus" means "humiliator of the enemy in verbal contest". In the
Persian language Persian (), also known by its endonym An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europ ...
and especially in
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
, Cyrus' name is spelled as (, ). In the
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common supra-regional form of Gree ...

Bible
, he is referred to in the
Hebrew language Hebrew (, , or ) is a of the . Historically, it is regarded as one of the spoken languages of the and their longest-surviving descendants: the and . It was largely preserved throughout history as the main of (post-) and . Hebrew is the ...
as ''Koresh'' ( he, , label=none). Some pieces of evidence suggest that Cyrus is
Kay Khosrow Kay Khosrow ( fa, کیخسرو) is a legendary king of Iran of Kayanian dynasty The Kayanians (Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, ...
, a legendary Persian king of the
Kayanian dynasty The Kayanians (Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples ** Per ...
and a character in ''
Shahnameh The ''Shahnameh'' or ''Shahnama'' ( fa, شاهنامه, Šāhnāme ; ) is a long epic poem written by the Persian literature, Persian poet Ferdowsi for Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni between c. 977 and 1010 CE and is the national epic of Greater Iran ...
'', a Persian
epic Epic commonly refers to: * Epic poetry, a long narrative poem celebrating heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation * Epic film, a genre of film with heroic elements Epic or EPIC may also refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media ...
. Some scholars, however, believe that neither Cyrus nor Cambyses were Iranian names, proposing that Cyrus was
Elamite Elamite, also known as Hatamtite, is an extinct language that was spoken by the ancient Elamites. It was used in present-day southwestern Iran from 2600 BC to 330 BC. Elamite works disappear from the archeological record after Alexander the Great ...

Elamite
in origin and that the name meant "he who bestows care" in the extinct
Elamite language Elamite, also known as Hatamtite, is an extinct language Extinction Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism or of a group of kinds (taxon), usually a species. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of ...
.


Dynastic history

The Persian domination and kingdom in the Iranian plateau started as an extension of the Achaemenid dynasty, who expanded their earlier dominion possibly from the 9th century BC onward. The eponymous founder of the dynasty was
Achaemenes Achaemenes ( peo, 𐏃𐎧𐎠𐎶𐎴𐎡𐏁, translit=Haxāmaniš) was the apical ancestor Common descent is a concept in evolutionary biology applicable when one species is the ancestor of two or more species later in time. All living be ...
(from Old Persian ''Haxāmaniš''). Achaemenids are "descendants of Achaemenes", as
Darius the Great Darius I ( peo, 𐎭𐎠𐎼𐎹𐎺𐎢𐏁 ; New Persian New Persian ( fa, فارسی نو), also known as Modern Persian () and Dari (), is the final stage of the Persian language Persian (), also known by its endonym An endonym ( ...

Darius the Great
, the ninth king of the dynasty, traces his ancestry to him, declaring "for this reason we are called Achaemenids." Achaemenes built the state in the southwest of
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
and was succeeded by
Teispes Teïspes (from Ancient Greek, Greek ; in peo, 𐎨𐎡𐏁𐎱𐎡𐏁 ''Cišpiš''; Akkadian language, Akkadian: 𒅆𒅖𒉿𒅖 ''Šîšpîš'')Kent (1384 AP), page 394 ruled Anshan (Persia), Anshan in 675–640 BC. He was the son of Achaemenes ...
, who took the title "King of
Anshan Anshan () is an inland prefecture-level city Image:Yangxin-renmin-huanyin-ni-0022.jpg, A road sign shows distance to the "Huangshi urban area" () rather than simply "Huangshi" (). This is a useful distinction, because the sign is located ''alread ...
" after seizing the city Anshan and enlarging his kingdom further to include
Pars Pars may refer to: * Fars Province Fars Province (; fa, استان فارس, , ), also known as Pars (, ) as well as Persis and Persia, is one of the thirty-one provinces of Iran Iran is subdivided into thirty-one province, provinces ( f ...
proper. under ''i. The clan and dynasty''. Ancient documents mention that Teispes had a son called
Cyrus I Cyrus I (Old Persian language, Old Persian: ''Kuruš'') or Cyrus I of Anshan or Cyrus I of Persia, was King of Anshan (Persia), Anshan in Persia from to 580 BC or, according to others, from to 600 BC. Cyrus I of Anshan is the grandfather of C ...
, who also succeeded his father as "king of Anshan". Cyrus I had a full brother whose name is recorded as
Ariaramnes Ariaramnes (Old Persian Old Persian is one of the two directly attested Old Iranian languages (the other being Avestan language, Avestan) and it is the ancestor of Middle Persian (the language of Sasanian Empire). Like other Old Iranian languages ...
. In 600 BC, Cyrus I was succeeded by his son,
Cambyses I Cambyses I or Cambyses the Elder (via Latin from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its popula ...
, who reigned until 559 BC. Cyrus II "the Great" was a son of Cambyses I, who had named his son after his father, Cyrus I. There are several inscriptions of Cyrus the Great and later kings that refer to Cambyses I as the "great king" and "king of Anshan". Among these are some passages in the Cyrus cylinder where Cyrus calls himself "son of Cambyses, great king, king of Anshan". Another inscription (from CM's) mentions Cambyses I as "mighty king" and "an Achaemenian", which according to the bulk of scholarly opinion was engraved under Darius and considered as a later forgery by Darius. However Cambyses II's maternal grandfather Pharnaspes is named by historian
Herodotus Herodotus ( ; grc, Ἡρόδοτος, Hēródotos, ; BC) was an Classical Greece, ancient Greek writer, geographer, and historian born in the Greek city of Halicarnassus, part of the Achaemenid Empire, Persian Empire (now Bodrum, Turkey). He ...
as "an Achaemenian" too.
Xenophon Xenophon of Athens (; grc, Ξενοφῶν Xenophon of Athens (; grc-gre, Ξενοφῶν, , ''Xenophōn''; – 354 BC) was an Athenian , image_skyline = File:Athens Montage L.png, center, 275px, alt=Athens mont ...

Xenophon
's account in Cyropædia further names Cambyses's wife as Mandane and mentions Cambyses as king of Iran (ancient Persia). These agree with Cyrus's own inscriptions, as Anshan and were different names of the same land. These also agree with other non-Iranian accounts, except at one point from Herodotus stating that Cambyses was not a king but a "Persian of good family". However, in some other passages, Herodotus's account is wrong also on the name of the son of Chishpish, which he mentions as Cambyses but, according to modern scholars, should be
Cyrus I Cyrus I (Old Persian language, Old Persian: ''Kuruš'') or Cyrus I of Anshan or Cyrus I of Persia, was King of Anshan (Persia), Anshan in Persia from to 580 BC or, according to others, from to 600 BC. Cyrus I of Anshan is the grandfather of C ...
. The traditional view based on archaeological research and the genealogy given in the
Behistun Inscription The Behistun Inscription (also Bisotun, Bistun or Bisutun; fa, بیستون, Old Persian Old Persian is one of the two directly attested Old Iranian languages (the other being Avestan language, Avestan) and it is the ancestor of Middle Persian ...

Behistun Inscription
and by Herodotus holds that Cyrus the Great was an Achaemenid. However, M. Waters has suggested that Cyrus is unrelated to the Achaemenids or Darius the Great, and that his family was of Teispid and Anshanite origin instead of Achaemenid.


Early life

Cyrus was born to
Cambyses I Cambyses I or Cambyses the Elder (via Latin from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its popula ...
, King of Anshan, and Mandane, daughter of
Astyages Astyages (Median language, Median: wiktionary:Reconstruction:Old Median/R̥štivaigah, ''R̥štivaigah''; Akkadian language, Babylonian: ''Ištumegu''; spelled by Herodotus as ''Astyages'', by Ctesias as ''Astyigas'', by Diodorus as ''Aspadas'') ...

Astyages
, King of Media, during the period of 600–599 BC. By his own account, generally believed now to be accurate, Cyrus was preceded as king by his father Cambyses I, grandfather Cyrus I, and great-grandfather Teispes. Cyrus married
Cassandane Cassandane or Cassandana (died 538 BC) was an Achaemenian Persian queen consort and the "dearly loved" wife of Cyrus the Great Cyrus II of Persia ( peo, 𐎤𐎢𐎽𐎢𐏁, translit=Kūruš; ; ) commonly known as Cyrus the Great, and also cal ...
who was an Achaemenian and the daughter of Pharnaspes who bore him two sons,
Cambyses II Cambyses II ( peo, 𐎣𐎲𐎢𐎪𐎡𐎹 ''Kabūjiya'') was the second King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, translit=Xšāça, translation=The Empire), also called the First Persian Empire, wa ...

Cambyses II
and
Bardiya Bardiya ( peo, 𐎲𐎼𐎮𐎡𐎹 ''Bạrdiya''), also known as Smerdis among the Greeks ( grc, wikt:Σμέρδις#Ancient Greek, Σμέρδις ''Smerdis'') (possibly died 522 BC), was a son of Cyrus the Great and the younger brother of Cam ...

Bardiya
along with three daughters,
Atossa Atossa (Old Persian Old Persian is one of the two directly attested Old Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of the Indo-Iranian languagesIndo-Iranian may refer to: * Indo-Iranian languages * Indo-Iranians, the var ...
,
Artystone:''For the isopod Isopoda is an order of crustacean Crustaceans (Crustacea ) form a large, diverse arthropod An arthropod (, (gen. ποδός)) is an invertebrate animal having an exoskeleton, a Segmentation (biology), segmented body, and ...
, and Roxane. Cyrus and Cassandane were known to love each other very much – Cassandane said that she found it more bitter to leave Cyrus than to depart her life. After her death, Cyrus insisted on public mourning throughout the kingdom. The
Nabonidus Chronicle The Nabonidus Chronicle is an ancient Babylonia Babylonia () was an ancient Akkadian-speaking state and cultural area based in central-southern Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن '; grc, Μεσοπ ...
states that Babylonia mourned Cassandane for six days (identified as 21–26 March 538 BC). After his father's death, Cyrus inherited the Persian throne at
Pasargadae Pasargadae (from grc, Πασαργάδαι, from Old Persian ''Pāθra-gadā'', "protective club" or "strong club"; Modern Persian: ''Pāsārgād'') was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, tr ...
, which was a vassal of Astyages. The Greek historian
Strabo Strabo''Strabo'' (meaning "squinty", as in strabismus Strabismus is a condition in which the eyes do not properly align with each other when looking at an object. The eye that is focused on an object can alternate. The condition may be pre ...

Strabo
has said that Cyrus was originally named Agradates by his step-parents. It is probable that, when reuniting with his original family, following the naming customs, Cyrus's father,
Cambyses I Cambyses I or Cambyses the Elder (via Latin from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its popula ...
, named him Cyrus after his grandfather, who was
Cyrus I Cyrus I (Old Persian language, Old Persian: ''Kuruš'') or Cyrus I of Anshan or Cyrus I of Persia, was King of Anshan (Persia), Anshan in Persia from to 580 BC or, according to others, from to 600 BC. Cyrus I of Anshan is the grandfather of C ...
. There is also an account by Strabo that claimed Agradates adopted the name Cyrus after the Cyrus river near Pasargadae.


Mythology

Herodotus Herodotus ( ; grc, Ἡρόδοτος, Hēródotos, ; BC) was an Classical Greece, ancient Greek writer, geographer, and historian born in the Greek city of Halicarnassus, part of the Achaemenid Empire, Persian Empire (now Bodrum, Turkey). He ...
gave a mythological account of Cyrus's early life. In this account, Astyages had two prophetic dreams in which a flood, and then a series of fruit-bearing vines, emerged from his daughter Mandane's pelvis, and covered the entire kingdom. These were interpreted by his advisers as a foretelling that his grandson would one day rebel and supplant him as king. Astyages summoned Mandane, at the time pregnant with Cyrus, back to Ecbatana to have the child killed. General Harpagus delegated the task to Mithradates, one of the shepherds of Astyages, who raised the child and passed off his stillborn son to Harpagus as the dead infant Cyrus. Cyrus lived in secrecy, but when he reached the age of 10, during a childhood game, he had the son of a nobleman beaten when he refused to obey Cyrus's commands. As it was unheard of for the son of a shepherd to commit such an act, Astyages had the boy brought to his court, and interviewed him and his adoptive father. Upon the shepherd's confession, Astyages sent Cyrus back to Persia to live with his biological parents. However, Astyages summoned the son of Harpagus, and in retribution, chopped him to pieces, roasted some portions while boiling others, and tricked his adviser into eating his child during a large banquet. Following the meal, Astyages' servants brought Harpagus the head, hands and feet of his son on platters, so he could realize his inadvertent cannibalism. In another version, Cyrus was presented as the son of a poor family that worked in the Median court.


Rise and military campaigns


Median Empire

Cyrus the Great succeeded to the throne in 559 BC following his father's death; however, Cyrus was not yet an independent ruler. Like his predecessors, Cyrus had to recognize
Median In statistics Statistics is the discipline that concerns the collection, organization, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data. In applying statistics to a scientific, industrial, or social problem, it is conventional to begin wi ...
overlordship.
Astyages Astyages (Median language, Median: wiktionary:Reconstruction:Old Median/R̥štivaigah, ''R̥štivaigah''; Akkadian language, Babylonian: ''Ištumegu''; spelled by Herodotus as ''Astyages'', by Ctesias as ''Astyigas'', by Diodorus as ''Aspadas'') ...

Astyages
, last king of the
Median Empire bas-relief Relief is a sculptural technique in which the sculpted elements remain attached to a solid background of the same material. The term ''wikt:relief, relief'' is from the Latin verb ''relevo'', to raise. To create a sculpture in ...

Median Empire
and Cyrus' grandfather, may have ruled over the majority of the
Ancient Near East The ancient Near East was the home of early civilization  A civilization (or civilisation) is a complex society A complex society is a concept that is shared by a range of disciplines including anthropology, archaeology, history and s ...
, from the
Lydia Lydia (Lydian language, Lydian: ‎𐤮𐤱𐤠𐤭𐤣𐤠, ''Śfarda''; Aramaic: ''Lydia''; el, Λυδία, ''Lȳdíā''; tr, Lidya) was an Iron Age Monarchy, kingdom of western Asia Minor located generally east of ancient Ionia in the mod ...

Lydia
n frontier in the west to the
Parthia Parthia ( peo, 𐎱𐎼𐎰𐎺 ''Parθava''; xpr, 𐭐𐭓𐭕𐭅 ''Parθaw''; pal, 𐭯𐭫𐭮𐭥𐭡𐭥 ''Pahlaw'') is a historical region located in north-eastern Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and offici ...

Parthia
ns and Persians in the east. According to the
Nabonidus Chronicle The Nabonidus Chronicle is an ancient Babylonia Babylonia () was an ancient Akkadian-speaking state and cultural area based in central-southern Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن '; grc, Μεσοπ ...
,
Astyages Astyages (Median language, Median: wiktionary:Reconstruction:Old Median/R̥štivaigah, ''R̥štivaigah''; Akkadian language, Babylonian: ''Ištumegu''; spelled by Herodotus as ''Astyages'', by Ctesias as ''Astyigas'', by Diodorus as ''Aspadas'') ...

Astyages
launched an attack against Cyrus, "king of Ansan". According to the historian Herodotus, it is known that Astyages placed
Harpagus Harpagus, also known as Harpagos or Hypargus (Ancient Greek Ἅρπαγος; Akkadian language, Akkadian: ''Arbaku''), was a Medes, Median general from the 6th century BC, credited by Herodotus as having put Cyrus the Great on the throne through hi ...
in command of the Median army to conquer Cyrus. However, Harpagus contacted Cyrus and encouraged his revolt against Media, before eventually defecting along with several of the nobility and a portion of the army. This mutiny is confirmed by the Nabonidus Chronicle. The Chronicle suggest that the hostilities lasted for at least three years (553–550), and the final battle resulted in the capture of Ecbatana. This was described in the paragraph that preceded the entry for Nabonidus' year 7, which detailed Cyrus' victory and the capture of his grandfather. According to the historians Herodotus and Ctesias, Cyrus spared the life of Astyages and married his daughter, Amytis. This marriage pacified several vassals, including the
Bactria Bactria (BactrianBactrian may refer to *Bactria Bactria ( Bactrian: , ), or Bactriana, was an ancient region in Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the ...
ns,
Parthia Parthia ( peo, 𐎱𐎼𐎰𐎺 ''Parθava''; xpr, 𐭐𐭓𐭕𐭅 ''Parθaw''; pal, 𐭯𐭫𐭮𐭥𐭡𐭥 ''Pahlaw'') is a historical region located in north-eastern Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and offici ...

Parthia
ns, and
Saka The Saka, Śaka, Shaka, Śāka or Sacae ( ; Kharosthi: ; Brahmi script, Brahmi: , ; sa, wiktionary:शक#Sanskrit, शक , ; grc, Σάκαι ; la, Sacae; , Old Chinese, old , Pinyin, mod. , ; egy, wiktionary:sk#Etymology 2, 𓋴𓎝 ...

Saka
. Herodotus notes that Cyrus also subdued and incorporated
Sogdia Sogdia () ( sog, soɣd) or Sogdiana was an ancient Iranian peoples, Iranian civilization between between the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya, and in present-day Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Sogdiana was also a province of the Ac ...
into the empire during his military campaigns of 546–539 BC. With Astyages out of power, all of his vassals (including many of Cyrus's relatives) were now under his command. His uncle
Arsames Arsames ( peo, 𐎠𐎼𐏁𐎠𐎶 Aršāma, modern Persian Persian (), also known by its exonym and endonym, endonym Farsi (, ', ), is a Western Iranian languages, Western Iranian language belonging to the Iranian languages, Iranian branc ...
, who had been the king of the city-state of Parsa under the
Medes The Medes ( peo, 𐎶𐎠𐎭 ; akk, , ; grc, Μῆδοι ) were an Iranian peoples, ancient Iranian people who spoke the Median language and who inhabited an area known as Media (region), Media between western Iran, western and nor ...
, therefore would have had to give up his throne. However, this transfer of power within the family seems to have been smooth, and it is likely that Arsames was still the nominal governor of Parsa under Cyrus's authority—more a Prince or a Grand Duke than a King. His son, Hystaspes, who was also Cyrus's second cousin, was then made
satrap Satraps () were the governors of the provinces of the ancient Medes, Median and Achaemenid Empires and in several of their successors, such as in the Sasanian Empire and the Hellenistic period, Hellenistic empires. The satrap served as viceroy to ...
of Parthia and
Phrygia In classical antiquity Classical antiquity (also the classical era, classical period or classical age) is the period of cultural history History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related ...
. Cyrus the Great thus united the twin Achamenid kingdoms of Parsa and Anshan into Persia proper. Arsames lived to see his grandson become Darius the Great,
Shahanshah Shah (; fa, شاه, Šâh or Šāh, , ) was a title given to the emperors and kings of Iran (historically known as "Name of Iran, Persia" in the Western world).Yarshater, EhsaPersia or Iran, Persian or Farsi, ''Iranian Studies'', vol. XXII n ...

Shahanshah
of Persia, after the deaths of both of Cyrus's sons. Cyrus's conquest of Media was merely the start of his wars.


Lydian Empire and Asia Minor

The exact dates of the Lydian conquest are unknown, but it must have taken place between Cyrus's overthrow of the Median kingdom (550 BC) and his conquest of Babylon (539 BC). It was common in the past to give 547 BC as the year of the conquest due to some interpretations of the
Nabonidus Chronicle The Nabonidus Chronicle is an ancient Babylonia Babylonia () was an ancient Akkadian-speaking state and cultural area based in central-southern Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن '; grc, Μεσοπ ...
, but this position is currently not much held. The Lydians first attacked the Achaemenid Empire's city of Pteria in
Cappadocia Cappadocia (; also ''Capadocia''; grc, label=Ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past events
.
Croesus Croesus ( ; Lydian Lydian may refer to: * Lydians, an ancient people of Anatolia * Lydian language, an ancient Anatolian language * Lydian alphabet ** Lydian (Unicode block) * Lydian (typeface), a decorative typeface * Lydian dominant scale or aco ...

Croesus
besieged and captured the city enslaving its inhabitants. Meanwhile, the Persians invited the citizens of
Ionia Ionia (; Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the used in and the from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: (), Dark Ages (), the period (), and the period (). Ancient ...
who were part of the Lydian kingdom to revolt against their ruler. The offer was rebuffed, and thus Cyrus levied an army and marched against the Lydians, increasing his numbers while passing through nations in his way. The
Battle of Pteria At the Battle of Pteria ( grc, Πτερία) in 547 BC, the Achaemenid Empire, Persian forces of Cyrus the Great fought a drawn battle with the invading Lydian forces of Croesus, forcing Croesus to withdraw back west into his own kingdom. Backgrou ...
was effectively a stalemate, with both sides suffering heavy casualties by nightfall. Croesus retreated to
Sardis Sardis () or Sardes (; Lydian Lydian may refer to: * Lydians, an ancient people of Anatolia * Lydian language, an ancient Anatolian language * Lydian alphabet ** Lydian (Unicode block) * Lydian (typeface), a decorative typeface * Lydian dominan ...

Sardis
the following morning.Herodotus, ''The Histories
Book I
', 440 BC. Translated by George Rawlinson.
While in Sardis, Croesus sent out requests for his allies to send aid to Lydia. However, near the end of the winter, before the allies could unite, Cyrus the Great pushed the war into Lydian territory and besieged Croesus in his capital, Sardis. Shortly before the final
Battle of Thymbra The Battle of Thymbra was the decisive battle in the war between Croesus Croesus ( ; grc, Κροῖσος, ''Kroisos''; 595 BC – date of death unknown) was the king of the King of the Romans (variant used in the early modern period) ...
between the two rulers, Harpagus advised Cyrus the Great to place his
dromedaries The dromedary (''Camelus dromedarius'') ( or ), also called the Arabian camel, is a large even-toed ungulate The even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla , ) are ungulates—hoofed animals—which bear weight equally on two (an even number) of thei ...

dromedaries
in front of his warriors; the Lydian horses, not used to the dromedaries' smell, would be very afraid. The strategy worked; the Lydian cavalry was routed. Cyrus defeated and captured Croesus. Cyrus occupied the capital at Sardis, conquering the Lydian kingdom in 546 BC. According to Herodotus, Cyrus the Great spared Croesus's life and kept him as an advisor, but this account conflicts with some translations of the contemporary Nabonidus Chronicle (the King who was himself subdued by Cyrus the Great after conquest of Babylonia), which interpret that the king of Lydia was slain.
Croesus
': Fifth and last king of the Mermnad dynasty.
Before returning to the capital, a Lydian named Pactyas was entrusted by Cyrus the Great to send Croesus's treasury to Persia. However, soon after Cyrus's departure, Pactyas hired mercenaries and caused an uprising in Sardis, revolting against the Persian
satrap Satraps () were the governors of the provinces of the ancient Medes, Median and Achaemenid Empires and in several of their successors, such as in the Sasanian Empire and the Hellenistic period, Hellenistic empires. The satrap served as viceroy to ...
of Lydia, Tabalus. With recommendations from Croesus that he should turn the minds of the Lydian people to luxury, Cyrus sent Mazares, one of his commanders, to subdue the insurrection but demanded that Pactyas be returned alive. Upon Mazares's arrival, Pactyas fled to
Ionia Ionia (; Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the used in and the from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: (), Dark Ages (), the period (), and the period (). Ancient ...
, where he had hired more mercenaries. Mazares marched his troops into the
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...

Greek
country and subdued the cities of Magnesia and
Priene Priene ( grc, Πριήνη, Priēnē; tr, Prien) was an Ancient Greece, ancient Greek city of Ionia (and member of the Ionian League) located at the base of an escarpment of Mycale, about north of what was then the course of the Maeander River ...

Priene
. The end of Pactyas is unknown, but after capture, he was probably sent to Cyrus and put to death after a succession of tortures. Mazares continued the conquest of Asia Minor but died of unknown causes during his campaign in Ionia. Cyrus sent Harpagus to complete Mazares's conquest of Asia Minor. Harpagus captured
Lycia Lycia ( Lycian: 𐊗𐊕𐊐𐊎𐊆𐊖 ''Trm̃mis''; el, Λυκία, ; tr, Likya) was a geopolitical region in Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula ...
,
Cilicia Cilicia (); el, Κιλικία, ''Kilikía''; Middle Persian Middle Persian or Pahlavi, also known by its endonym Pārsīk or Pārsīg (𐭯𐭠𐭫𐭮𐭩𐭪) in its later form, is a Western Middle Iranian language which became the litera ...

Cilicia
and
Phoenicia Phoenicia () was an ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsWordNet Search – 3 ...
, using the technique of building earthworks to breach the walls of besieged cities, a method unknown to the Greeks. He ended his conquest of the area in 542 BC and returned to Persia.


Neo-Babylonian Empire

By the year 540 BC, Cyrus captured
Elam Elam (; Linear Elamite Linear Elamite is a Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized by the use of bronze, in some areas proto-writing, and other early features of urban civilization. The Br ...

Elam
(Susiana) and its capital,
Susa Susa (; Cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the ...

Susa
. The Nabonidus Chronicle records that, prior to the battle(s),
Nabonidus Nabonidus (Babylonian cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the begi ...

Nabonidus
had ordered cult statues from outlying Babylonian cities to be brought into the capital, suggesting that the conflict had begun possibly in the winter of 540 BC. Near the beginning of October 539 BC, Cyrus fought the
Battle of Opis The Battle of Opis, fought in September 539 BC, was a major engagement between the armies of Persia under Cyrus the Great and the Neo-Babylonian Empire under Nabonidus during the Persian invasion of Mesopotamia. At the time, Babylonia was the last ...
in or near the strategic riverside city of
Opis Opis (Akkadian (language), Akkadian ''Upî'' or ''Upija''; grc, Ὦπις) was an ancient Babylonian city near the Tigris, not far from modern Baghdad. Akkadian language, Akkadian and Greek language, Greek texts indicate that it was located on t ...

Opis
on the Tigris, north of Babylon. The Babylonian army was routed, and on 10 October, Sippar was seized without a battle, with little to no resistance from the populace. It is probable that Cyrus engaged in negotiations with the Babylonian generals to obtain a compromise on their part and therefore avoid an armed confrontation. Nabonidus, who had retreated to Sippar following his defeat at Opis, fled to Borsippa. Two days later, on 12 October (
proleptic Gregorian calendar The proleptic Gregorian calendar is produced by extending the Gregorian calendar The Gregorian calendar is the calendar used in most of the world. It was introduced in October 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII as a minor modification of the Julian ca ...
), Gubaru's troops entered Babylon, again without any resistance from the Babylonian armies, and detained Nabonidus.
Herodotus Herodotus ( ; grc, Ἡρόδοτος, Hēródotos, ; BC) was an Classical Greece, ancient Greek writer, geographer, and historian born in the Greek city of Halicarnassus, part of the Achaemenid Empire, Persian Empire (now Bodrum, Turkey). He ...
explains that to accomplish this feat, the Persians, using a basin dug earlier by the Babylonian queen Nitokris to protect Babylon against Median attacks, diverted the
Euphrates The Euphrates () is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Tigris–Euphrates river system, Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia (the "Land Between the Rivers"). O ...
river into a canal so that the water level dropped "to the height of the middle of a man's thigh", which allowed the invading forces to march directly through the river bed to enter at night. Shortly thereafter, Nabonidus returned from Borsippa and surrendered to Cyrus. On 29 October, Cyrus himself entered the city of Babylon. Prior to Cyrus's invasion of Babylon, the
Neo-Babylonian Empire The Neo-Babylonian Empire, also known as the Second Babylonian Empire and historically known as the Chaldean Empire, was the last of the Mesopotamian empires to be ruled by monarchs native to Mesopotamia. Beginning with Nabopolassar's coronation as ...

Neo-Babylonian Empire
had conquered many kingdoms. In addition to Babylonia itself, Cyrus probably incorporated its subnational entities into his Empire, including
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...

Syria
,
Judea Judea or Judaea ( or ; from he, יהודה, Standard Standard may refer to: Flags * Colours, standards and guidons * Standard (flag), a type of flag used for personal identification Norm, convention or requirement * Standard (metrolog ...

Judea
, and
Arabia Petraea Arabia Petraea or Petrea, also known as Rome's Arabian Province ( la, Provincia Arabia; ar, العربية البترائية; grc, ἐπαρχία Πετραίας Αραβίας) or simply Arabia, was a frontier Roman province, province of ...

Arabia Petraea
, although there is no direct evidence of this fact. After taking Babylon, Cyrus the Great proclaimed himself "king of Babylon, king of
Sumer Sumer ()The name is from Akkadian language, Akkadian '; Sumerian language, Sumerian ''kig̃ir'', written and ,approximately "land of the civilized kings" or "native land". means "native, local", iĝir NATIVE (7x: Old Babylonian)from ''The ...

Sumer
and Akkad, king of the four corners of the world" in the famous
Cyrus Cylinder The Cyrus Cylinder or Cyrus Charter is an ancient clay cylinder, now broken into several pieces, on which is written a declaration in Akkadian language, Akkadian cuneiform script in the name of Persia's Achaemenid Empire, Achaemenid king Cyrus the ...

Cyrus Cylinder
, an inscription deposited in the foundations of the
Esagila Babylonian clay brick from sixth century BC cuneiform inscription "Nebuchadnezzar support Esagila temple and temple Ezida (Borsippa). Eldest son of Nabopolassar, king of Babylon. Hecht Museum Haifa The Ésagila or Esangil ( sux, , ''"É (te ...
temple dedicated to the chief Babylonian god, Marduk. The text of the cylinder denounces Nabonidus as impious and portrays the victorious Cyrus pleasing the god Marduk. It describes how Cyrus had improved the lives of the citizens of Babylonia, repatriated displaced peoples, and restored temples and cult sanctuaries. Although some have asserted that the cylinder represents a form of human rights charter, historians generally portray it in the context of a long-standing Mesopotamian tradition of new rulers beginning their reigns with declarations of reforms. Cyrus the Great's dominions composed the largest empire the world had ever seen to that point. At the end of Cyrus' rule, the Achaemenid Empire stretched from
Asia Minor Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from 'almost' and 'island') is a landform A landform is a natural or artificial feature of ...
in the west to the
Indus River The Indus ( ) is a transboundary river A transboundary river is a river that crosses at least one political border, either a border within a nation or an international boundary. Bangladesh has the highest number of these rivers, including t ...

Indus River
in the east.


Death

The details of Cyrus's death vary by account. The account of
Herodotus Herodotus ( ; grc, Ἡρόδοτος, Hēródotos, ; BC) was an Classical Greece, ancient Greek writer, geographer, and historian born in the Greek city of Halicarnassus, part of the Achaemenid Empire, Persian Empire (now Bodrum, Turkey). He ...
from his ''Histories'' provides the second-longest detail, in which Cyrus met his fate in a fierce battle with the
Massagetae The Massagetae, or Massageteans, (Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its popul ...
, a tribe from the southern deserts of
Khwarezm Khwarazm , or Chorasmia (Old Persian: ''Uvârazmiya'', fa, خوارزم, ''Xwârazm'' or ''Xârazm''), is a large oasis region on the Amu Darya river delta in western Central Asia, bordered on the north by the (former) Aral Sea, on the ea ...
and
Kyzyl Kum The Kyzylkum Desert ( uz, Qizilqum, Қизилқум, قىزىلقۇم; kk, Қызылқұм, Qyzylqum, قىزىلقۇم; russian: Кызылкум) is the 15th largest desert upright=1.5, alt=see caption, Sand dunes in the Rub' al Kha ...

Kyzyl Kum
in the southernmost portion of the
Eurasian Steppe The Eurasian Steppe, also simply called the Great Steppe or the steppes, is the vast steppe ecoregion of Eurasia in the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome. It stretches through Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Europ ...
regions of modern-day Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, following the advice of
Croesus Croesus ( ; Lydian Lydian may refer to: * Lydians, an ancient people of Anatolia * Lydian language, an ancient Anatolian language * Lydian alphabet ** Lydian (Unicode block) * Lydian (typeface), a decorative typeface * Lydian dominant scale or aco ...

Croesus
to attack them in their own territory. The Massagetae were related to the Scythians in their dress and mode of living; they fought on horseback and on foot. In order to acquire her realm, Cyrus first sent an offer of marriage to their ruler, the empress Tomyris, a proposal she rejected. He then commenced his attempt to take Massagetae territory by force (c. 529), beginning by building bridges and towered war boats along his side of the river Oxus, or Amu Darya, which separated them. Sending him a warning to cease his encroachment (a warning which she stated she expected he would disregard anyway), Tomyris challenged him to meet her forces in honorable warfare, inviting him to a location in her country a day's march from the river, where their two armies would formally engage each other. He accepted her offer, but, learning that the Massagetae were unfamiliar with wine and its intoxicating effects, he set up and then left camp with plenty of it behind, taking his best soldiers with him and leaving the least capable ones. The general of Tomyris's army, Spargapises, who was also her son, and a third of the Massagetian troops, killed the group Cyrus had left there and, finding the camp well stocked with food and the wine, unwittingly drank themselves into inebriation, diminishing their capability to defend themselves when they were then overtaken by a surprise attack. They were successfully defeated, and, although he was taken prisoner, Spargapises committed suicide once he regained sobriety. Upon learning of what had transpired, Tomyris denounced Cyrus's tactics as underhanded and swore vengeance, leading a second wave of troops into battle herself. Cyrus the Great was ultimately killed, and his forces suffered massive casualties in what Herodotus referred to as the fiercest battle of his career and the ancient world. When it was over, Tomyris ordered the body of Cyrus brought to her, then decapitated him and dipped his head in a vessel of blood in a symbolic gesture of revenge for his bloodlust and the death of her son. However, some scholars question this version, mostly because even Herodotus admits this event was one of many versions of Cyrus's death that he heard from a supposedly reliable source who told him no one was there to see the aftermath.
Herodotus Herodotus ( ; grc, Ἡρόδοτος, Hēródotos, ; BC) was an Classical Greece, ancient Greek writer, geographer, and historian born in the Greek city of Halicarnassus, part of the Achaemenid Empire, Persian Empire (now Bodrum, Turkey). He ...
also recounts that Cyrus saw in his sleep the oldest son of Hystaspes (Darius I) with wings upon his shoulders, shadowing with the one wing Asia, and with the other wing Europe. Archaeologist Max Mallowan, Sir Max Mallowan explains this statement by Herodotus and its connection with the four winged bas-relief figure of Cyrus the Great in the following way: Muhammad Dandamayev says that Persians may have taken Cyrus' body back from the Massagetae, unlike what Herodotus claimed. According to the Chronicle of Michael the Syrian (AD 1166–1199) Cyrus was killed by his wife Tomyris, queen of the Massagetae (Maksata), in the 60th year of Jewish captivity.
Ctesias Ctesias (; grc, Κτησίας, ''Ktēsíās'', fifth century BC), also known as Ctesias the Cnidian or Ctesias of Cnidus, was a Hellenic civilization, Greek physician and historian from the town of Cnidus in Caria, who lived during the time that ...
, in his ''Persica'', has the longest account, which says Cyrus met his death while putting down resistance from the Derbices infantry, aided by other Scythian archers and cavalry, plus Indian people, Indians and their war-elephants. According to him, this event took place northeast of the headwaters of the Syr Darya. An alternative account from
Xenophon Xenophon of Athens (; grc, Ξενοφῶν Xenophon of Athens (; grc-gre, Ξενοφῶν, , ''Xenophōn''; – 354 BC) was an Athenian , image_skyline = File:Athens Montage L.png, center, 275px, alt=Athens mont ...

Xenophon
's ''Cyropaedia'' contradicts the others, claiming that Cyrus died peaceably at his capital. The final version of Cyrus's death comes from Berossus, who only reports that Cyrus met his death while warring against the Dahae archers northwest of the headwaters of the Syr Darya.


Burial

Cyrus the Great's remains may have been interred in his capital city of
Pasargadae Pasargadae (from grc, Πασαργάδαι, from Old Persian ''Pāθra-gadā'', "protective club" or "strong club"; Modern Persian: ''Pāsārgād'') was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, tr ...
, where today a limestone tomb (built around 540–530 BC) still exists, which many believe to be his.
Strabo Strabo''Strabo'' (meaning "squinty", as in strabismus Strabismus is a condition in which the eyes do not properly align with each other when looking at an object. The eye that is focused on an object can alternate. The condition may be pre ...

Strabo
and Arrian give nearly identical descriptions of the tomb, based on the eyewitness report of Aristobulus of Cassandreia, who at the request of Alexander the Great visited the tomb twice. Though the city itself is now in ruins, the burial place of Cyrus the Great has remained largely intact, and the tomb has been partially restored to counter its natural deterioration over the centuries. According to
Plutarch Plutarch (; grc-gre, Πλούταρχος, ''Ploútarchos''; ; AD 46 – after AD 119) was a Greek Middle Platonist Middle Platonism is the modern name given to a stage in the development of Platonic philosophy, lasting from about 90 BC&nbs ...

Plutarch
, his epitaph read: Cuneiform evidence from Babylon proves that Cyrus died around December 530 BC,Cyrus's date of death can be deduced from the last reference to his own reign (a tablet from Borsippa dated to 12 Augustus 530) and the first reference to the reign of his son Cambyses (a tablet from Babylon dated to 31 August); see R.A. Parker and W.H. Dubberstein, ''Babylonian Chronology 626 B.C. – A.D. 75'', 1971. and that his son
Cambyses II Cambyses II ( peo, 𐎣𐎲𐎢𐎪𐎡𐎹 ''Kabūjiya'') was the second King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, translit=Xšāça, translation=The Empire), also called the First Persian Empire, wa ...

Cambyses II
had become king. Cambyses continued his father's policy of expansion, and captured
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
for the Empire, but soon died after only seven years of rule. He was succeeded either by Cyrus's other son
Bardiya Bardiya ( peo, 𐎲𐎼𐎮𐎡𐎹 ''Bạrdiya''), also known as Smerdis among the Greeks ( grc, wikt:Σμέρδις#Ancient Greek, Σμέρδις ''Smerdis'') (possibly died 522 BC), was a son of Cyrus the Great and the younger brother of Cam ...

Bardiya
or an impostor posing as Bardiya, who became the sole ruler of Persia for seven months, until he was killed by Darius I of Persia, Darius the Great. The translated ancient Roman and Greek accounts give a vivid description of the tomb both geometrically and aesthetically; the tomb's geometric shape has changed little over the years, still maintaining a large stone of quadrangular form at the base, followed by a pyramidal succession of smaller rectangular stones, until after a few slabs, the structure is curtailed by an edifice, with an arched roof composed of a pyramidal shaped stone, and a small opening or window on the side, where the slenderest man could barely squeeze through. Within this edifice was a golden coffin, resting on a table with golden supports, inside of which the body of Cyrus the Great was interred. Upon his resting place, was a covering of tapestry and drapes made from the best available Babylonian materials, utilizing fine Median worksmanship; below his bed was a fine red carpet, covering the narrow rectangular area of his tomb. Translated Greek accounts describe the tomb as having been placed in the fertile Pasargadae gardens, surrounded by trees and ornamental shrubs, with a group of Achaemenian protectors called the "Magi", stationed nearby to protect the edifice from theft or damage. Years later, in the chaos created by Alexander the Great's invasion of Persia and after the defeat of Darius III, Cyrus the Great's tomb was broken into and most of its luxuries were looted. When Alexander reached the tomb, he was horrified by the manner in which the tomb was treated, and questioned the Magi and put them to court. On some accounts, Alexander's decision to put the Magi on trial was more about his attempt to undermine their influence and his show of power in his newly conquered empire, than a concern for Cyrus's tomb. However, Alexander admired Cyrus, from an early age reading Xenophon's ''Cyropaedia'', which described Cyrus's heroism in battle and governance as a king and legislator. Regardless, Alexander the Great ordered Aristobulus to improve the tomb's condition and restore its interior. Despite his admiration for Cyrus the Great, and his attempts at renovation of his tomb, Alexander had, six years previously (330 BC), sacked
Persepolis Persepolis (; peo, 𐎱𐎠𐎼𐎿, ; ) was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, , translit=Xšāça, translation=The Empire), also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient based in foun ...

Persepolis
, the opulent city that Cyrus may have chosen the site for, and either ordered its burning as an act of pro-Greek propaganda or set it on fire during drunken revels. The edifice has survived the test of time, through invasions, internal divisions, successive empires, regime changes, and revolutions. The last prominent Persian figure to bring attention to the tomb was
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi Mohammad Reza Pahlavi ( fa, محمدرضا پهلوی, ; 26 October 1919 – 27 July 1980), also known as Mohammad Reza Shah (), was the last '' Shah'' ( King) of Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and officially th ...

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
(Shah of Iran) the last official monarch of Persia, during his 2,500 year celebration of the Persian Empire, celebrations of 2,500 years of monarchy. Just as Alexander the Great before him, the Shah of Iran wanted to appeal to Cyrus's legacy to legitimize his own rule by extension. The United Nations recognizes the tomb of Cyrus the Great and Pasargadae as a UNESCO World Heritage site.


Legacy

British historian Charles Freeman (historian), Charles Freeman suggests that "In scope and extent his achievements [Cyrus] ranked far above that of the Macedonian king, Alexander, who was to demolish the [Achaemenid] empire in the 320s but fail to provide any stable alternative." Cyrus has been a personal hero to many people, including Thomas Jefferson,
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi Mohammad Reza Pahlavi ( fa, محمدرضا پهلوی, ; 26 October 1919 – 27 July 1980), also known as Mohammad Reza Shah (), was the last '' Shah'' ( King) of Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and officially th ...

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
, and David Ben-Gurion. The achievements of Cyrus the Great throughout antiquity are reflected in the way he is remembered today. His own nation, the Iranians, have regarded him as "The Father," the very title that had been used during the time of Cyrus himself, by the many nations that he conquered, as according to
Xenophon Xenophon of Athens (; grc, Ξενοφῶν Xenophon of Athens (; grc-gre, Ξενοφῶν, , ''Xenophōn''; – 354 BC) was an Athenian , image_skyline = File:Athens Montage L.png, center, 275px, alt=Athens mont ...

Xenophon
: The Babylonians regarded him as "The Liberator". The Book of Ezra narrates a story of the first return of exiles in the first year of Cyrus, in which Cyrus proclaims: "All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD, the God of heaven, given me; and He hath charged me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah."() Cyrus was distinguished equally as a politician, statesman and as a soldier. Due in part to the political infrastructure he created, the Achaemenid Empire endured long after his death. The rise of Persia under Cyrus's rule had a profound impact on the course of world history. Iranian philosophy, Persian literature, literature and Iranic religions, religion all played dominant roles in world events for the next millennium. Despite the Islamic conquest of Persia in the 7th century AD by the Islamic Caliphate, Persia continued to exercise enormous influence in the Middle East during the Islamic Golden Age, and was particularly instrumental in the growth and expansion of Islam. Many of the Iranian dynasties following the Achaemenid Empire and their kings saw themselves as the heirs to Cyrus the Great and have claimed to continue the line begun by Cyrus. However, there are different opinions among scholars whether this is also the case for the Sassanid Dynasty. Alexander the Great was himself infatuated with and admired Cyrus the Great, from an early age reading Xenophon's ''Cyropaedia'', which described Cyrus's heroism in battle and governance and his abilities as a king and a legislator. During his visit to Pasargadae he ordered Aristobulus to decorate the interior of the sepulchral chamber of Cyrus's tomb. Cyrus's legacy has been felt even as far away as Iceland and colonial America. Many of the thinkers and rulers of Classical Antiquity as well as the Renaissance and Age of Enlightenment, Enlightenment era, and the forefathers of the United States of America sought inspiration from Cyrus the Great through works such as ''Cyropaedia''. Thomas Jefferson, for example, owned two copies of ''Cyropaedia'', one with parallel Greek and Latin translations on facing pages showing substantial Jefferson markings that signify the amount of influence the book has had on drafting the United States Declaration of Independence. According to Professor Richard Nelson Frye, Cyrus – whose abilities as conqueror and administrator Frye says are attested by the longevity and vigor of the Achaemenid Empire – held an almost mythic role among the Persian people "similar to that of Romulus and Remus in Rome or Moses for the Israelites", with a story that "follows in many details the stories of hero and conquerors from elsewhere in the ancient world." Frye writes, "He became the epitome of the great qualities expected of a ruler in antiquity, and he assumed heroic features as a conqueror who was tolerant and magnanimous as well as brave and daring. His personality as seen by the Greeks influenced them and Alexander the Great, and, as the tradition was transmitted by the Romans, may be considered to influence our thinking even now." On another account, Professor Patrick Hunt (archeologist), Patrick Hunt states, "If you are looking at the greatest personages in History who have affected the World, 'Cyrus the Great' is one of the few who deserves that epithet, the one who deserves to be called 'the Great.' The empire over which Cyrus ruled was the largest the Ancient World had ever seen and may be to this day the largest empire ever."


Religion and philosophy

Though it is generally believed that Zoroaster, Zarathushtra's teachings maintained influence on Cyrus's acts and policies, so far no clear evidence has been found to indicate that Cyrus practiced a specific religion. Pierre Briant wrote that given the poor information we have, "it seems quite reckless to try to reconstruct what the religion of Cyrus might have been." The policies of Cyrus with respect to treatment of minority religions are documented in Babylonian texts as well as Jewish sources and the historians accounts. Cyrus had a general policy of religious tolerance throughout his vast empire. Whether this was a new policy or the continuation of policies followed by the Babylonians and Assyrians (as Lester Grabbe maintains) is disputed. He brought peace to the Babylonians and is said to have kept his army away from the temples and restored the statues of the Babylonian gods to their sanctuaries. His treatment of the Jews during their exile in Babylon after Nebuchadnezzar II destroyed Jerusalem is reported in the
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common supra-regional form of Gree ...

Bible
. The Books of the Bible, Jewish Bible's Ketuvim ends in Second Chronicles with the decree of Cyrus, which returned the exiles to the Land of Israel, Promised Land from Babylon along with a commission to rebuild the temple.
Thus saith Cyrus, king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth hath the , the God of heaven given me; and He hath charged me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whosoever there is among you of all His people – the , his God, be with him – let him go there. — ()
This edict is also fully reproduced in the Book of Ezra.
In the first year of King Cyrus, Cyrus the king issued a decree: "Concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, let the temple, the place where sacrifices are offered, be rebuilt and let its foundations be retained, its height being 60 cubits and its width 60 cubits; with three layers of huge stones and one layer of timbers. And let the cost be paid from the royal treasury. Also let the gold and silver utensils of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took from the temple in Jerusalem and brought to Babylon, be returned and brought to their places in the temple in Jerusalem; and you shall put them in the house of God." — ()
The Israelites, Jews honored him as a dignified and righteous king. In one Tanakh, Biblical passage, Isaiah refers to him as Messiah (lit. "His anointed one") (), making him the only gentile to be so referred. Elsewhere in Book of Isaiah, Isaiah, God is described as saying, "I will raise up Cyrus in my righteousness: I will make all his ways straight. He will rebuild my city and set my exiles free, but not for a price or reward, says God Almighty." () As the text suggests, Cyrus did ultimately release the nation of Israel from its exile without compensation or tribute. These particular passages (Isaiah 40–55, often referred to as ''Deutero-Isaiah'') are believed by most modern Higher criticism, critical scholars to have been added by another author toward the end of the Babylonian exile Josephus, the first-century Jewish historian, relates the traditional view of the Jews regarding the prediction of Cyrus in Isaiah in his Antiquities of the Jews, book 11, chapter 1: While Cyrus was praised in the Tanakh ( and ), there was Jewish criticism of him after he was lied to by the Cuthites, who wanted to halt the building of the Second Temple. They accused the Jews of conspiring to rebel, so Cyrus in turn stopped the construction, which would not be completed until 515 BC, during the reign of Darius I of Persia, Darius I. According to the Bible it was King Artaxerxes I of Persia, Artaxerxes who was convinced to stop the construction of the temple in Jerusalem. (Ezra 4:7–24) The historical nature of this decree has been challenged. Professor Lester L Grabbe argues that there was no decree but that there was a policy that allowed exiles to return to their homelands and rebuild their temples. He also argues that the archaeology suggests that the return was a "trickle", taking place over perhaps decades, resulting in a maximum population of perhaps 30,000. Philip R. Davies called the authenticity of the decree "dubious", citing Grabbe and adding that arguing against "the authenticity of Ezra 1.1–4 is J. Briend, in a paper given at the Institut Catholique de Paris on 15 December 1993, who denies that it resembles the form of an official document but reflects rather biblical prophetic idiom." Mary Joan Winn Leith believes that the decree in Ezra might be authentic and along with the Cylinder that Cyrus, like earlier rulers, was through these decrees trying to gain support from those who might be strategically important, particularly those close to Egypt which he wished to conquer. He also wrote that "appeals to Marduk in the cylinder and to Yahweh in the biblical decree demonstrate the Persian tendency to co-opt local religious and political traditions in the interest of imperial control." Some Muslims have suggested that the Quranic figure of Dhul-Qarnayn is a representation of Cyrus the Great, but the scholarly consensus is that he is a development of legends concerning Alexander the Great.


Politics and management

Cyrus founded the empire as a multi-Sovereign state, state empire governed by four capital states;
Pasargadae Pasargadae (from grc, Πασαργάδαι, from Old Persian ''Pāθra-gadā'', "protective club" or "strong club"; Modern Persian: ''Pāsārgād'') was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, tr ...
, Babylon,
Susa Susa (; Cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the ...

Susa
and Ecbatana. He allowed a certain amount of regional autonomy in each state, in the form of a
satrap Satraps () were the governors of the provinces of the ancient Medes, Median and Achaemenid Empires and in several of their successors, such as in the Sasanian Empire and the Hellenistic period, Hellenistic empires. The satrap served as viceroy to ...
y system. A satrapy was an administrative unit, usually organized on a geographical basis. A '
satrap Satraps () were the governors of the provinces of the ancient Medes, Median and Achaemenid Empires and in several of their successors, such as in the Sasanian Empire and the Hellenistic period, Hellenistic empires. The satrap served as viceroy to ...
' (governor) was the vassal king, who administered the region, a 'general' supervised military recruitment and ensured order, and a 'state secretary' kept the official records. The general and the state secretary reported directly to the satrap as well as the central government. During his reign, Cyrus maintained control over a vast region of conquered kingdoms, achieved through retaining and expanding the satrapies. Further organization of newly conquered territories into provinces ruled by satraps, was continued by Cyrus's successor Darius I of Persia, Darius the Great. Cyrus's empire was based on tribute and conscription, conscripts from the many parts of his realm. Through his military savvy, Cyrus created an organized army including the Persian Immortals, Immortals unit, consisting of 10,000 highly trained soldiers. He also formed an innovative postal system throughout the empire, based on several relay stations called Chapar Khaneh. Cyrus's conquests began a new era in the age of empire building, where a vast superstate, comprising many dozens of countries, races, religions, and languages, were ruled under a single administration headed by a central government. This system lasted for centuries, and was retained both by the invading Seleucid Empire, Seleucid dynasty during their control of Persia, and later Iranian dynasties including the Parthian Empire, Parthians and Sasanian Empire, Sasanians. Cyrus has been known for his innovations in building projects; he further developed the technologies that he found in the conquered cultures and applied them in building the palaces of
Pasargadae Pasargadae (from grc, Πασαργάδαι, from Old Persian ''Pāθra-gadā'', "protective club" or "strong club"; Modern Persian: ''Pāsārgād'') was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, tr ...
. He was also famous for his love of gardens; the recent excavations in his capital city has revealed the existence of the Pasargadae Persian gardens, Persian Garden and a network of irrigation canals. Pasargadae was a place for two magnificent palaces surrounded by a majestic royal park and vast formal gardens; among them was the four-quartered wall gardens of "Paradise, Paradisia" with over 1000 meters of channels made out of carved limestone, designed to fill small basins at every 16 meters and water various types of wild and domestic flora. The design and concept of Paradisia were exceptional and have been used as a model for many ancient and modern parks, ever since. The English physician and philosopher Sir Thomas Browne penned a discourse entitled The Garden of Cyrus in 1658 in which Cyrus is depicted as an archetypal "wise ruler" – while the The Protectorate, Protectorate of Cromwell ruled Britain. "Cyrus the elder brought up in Woods and Mountains, when time and power enabled, pursued the dictate of his education, and brought the treasures of the field into rule and circumscription. So nobly beautifying the hanging Gardens of Babylon, that he was also thought to be the author thereof." Cyrus' standard, described as a golden eagle mounted upon a "lofty shaft", remained the official banner of the Achaemenids.


Cyrus Cylinder

One of the few surviving sources of information that can be dated directly to Cyrus's time is the Cyrus Cylinder ( fa, استوانه کوروش), a document in the form of a clay cylinder inscribed in Akkadian language, Akkadian Cuneiform script, cuneiform. It had been placed in the foundations of the
Esagila Babylonian clay brick from sixth century BC cuneiform inscription "Nebuchadnezzar support Esagila temple and temple Ezida (Borsippa). Eldest son of Nabopolassar, king of Babylon. Hecht Museum Haifa The Ésagila or Esangil ( sux, , ''"É (te ...
(the temple of Marduk in Babylon) as a foundation deposit following the Persian conquest in 539 BC. It was discovered in 1879 and is kept today in the British Museum in London. The text of the cylinder denounces the deposed Babylonian king
Nabonidus Nabonidus (Babylonian cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the begi ...

Nabonidus
as impious and portrays Cyrus as pleasing to the chief god Marduk. It describes how Cyrus had improved the lives of the citizens of Babylonia, Repatriation, repatriated displaced peoples and restored temples and cult sanctuaries."The Ancient Near East, Volume I: An Anthology of Texts and Pictures". Vol. 1. Ed. James B. Pritchard. Princeton University Press, 1973. Although not mentioned specifically in the text, the repatriation of the Jews from their "
Babylonian captivity The Babylonian captivity or Babylonian exile is the period in Jewish history during which a number of people from the ancient Kingdom of Judah were captives in Babylon, the capital of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. After the Battle of Carchemish in ...
" has been interpreted as part of this general policy. In the 1970s the Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran adopted the Cyrus cylinder as a political symbol, using it "as a central image in his celebration of 2500 years of Iranian monarchy".British Museum explanatory notes, "Cyrus Cylinder": In Iran, the cylinder has appeared on coins, banknotes and stamps. Despite being a Babylonian document it has become part of Iran's cultural identity." and asserting that it was "the first human rights charter in history". This view has been disputed by some as "rather anachronistic" and tendentious, as the modern concept of human rights would have been quite alien to Cyrus's contemporaries and is not mentioned by the cylinder. The cylinder has, nonetheless, become seen as part of Iran's cultural identity. The United Nations has declared the relic to be an "ancient declaration of human rights" since 1971, approved by then Secretary General Sithu U Thant, after he "was given a replica by Ashraf Pahlavi, the sister of the Shah of Iran". The British Museum describes the cylinder as "an instrument of ancient Mesopotamian propaganda" that "reflects a long tradition in Mesopotamia where, from as early as the third millennium BC, kings began their reigns with declarations of reforms." The cylinder emphasizes Cyrus's continuity with previous Babylonian rulers, asserting his virtue as a traditional Babylonian king while denigrating his predecessor. Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, has stated that the cylinder was "the first attempt we know about running a society, a state with different nationalities and faiths – a new kind of statecraft." He explained that "It has even been described as the first declaration of human rights, and while this was never the intention of the document – the modern concept of human rights scarcely existed in the ancient world – it has come to embody the hopes and aspirations of many."


Titles

His regal titles in full were The Great King, King of Persia, King of Anshan, King of Media, King of Babylon, King of Sumer and Akkad, and King of the Four Corners of the World. The
Nabonidus Chronicle The Nabonidus Chronicle is an ancient Babylonia Babylonia () was an ancient Akkadian-speaking state and cultural area based in central-southern Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن '; grc, Μεσοπ ...
notes the change in his title from simply "King of Anshan", a city, to "King of Persia". Assyriologist François Vallat wrote that "When Astyages marched against Cyrus, Cyrus is called 'King of Anshan", but when Cyrus crosses the Tigris on his way to Lydia, he is 'King of Persia.' The coup therefore took place between these two events."


Family tree


See also

* Kay Bahman * List of biblical figures identified in extra-biblical sources * 2016 Cyrus the Great Revolt


References


Bibliography

* *


Ancient sources

* The
Nabonidus Chronicle The Nabonidus Chronicle is an ancient Babylonia Babylonia () was an ancient Akkadian-speaking state and cultural area based in central-southern Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن '; grc, Μεσοπ ...
of the Babylonian Chronicles * ''The Verse account of Nabonidus'' * ''The Prayer of Nabonidus'' (one of the Dead Sea scrolls) * The
Cyrus Cylinder The Cyrus Cylinder or Cyrus Charter is an ancient clay cylinder, now broken into several pieces, on which is written a declaration in Akkadian language, Akkadian cuneiform script in the name of Persia's Achaemenid Empire, Achaemenid king Cyrus the ...

Cyrus Cylinder
*
Herodotus Herodotus ( ; grc, Ἡρόδοτος, Hēródotos, ; BC) was an Classical Greece, ancient Greek writer, geographer, and historian born in the Greek city of Halicarnassus, part of the Achaemenid Empire, Persian Empire (now Bodrum, Turkey). He ...
(''Histories (Herodotus), The Histories'') *
Ctesias Ctesias (; grc, Κτησίας, ''Ktēsíās'', fifth century BC), also known as Ctesias the Cnidian or Ctesias of Cnidus, was a Hellenic civilization, Greek physician and historian from the town of Cnidus in Caria, who lived during the time that ...
(''Persica'') * The biblical books of ''Book of Isaiah, Isaiah'', ''Book of Daniel, Daniel'', ''Book of Ezra, Ezra'' and ''Book of Nehemiah, Nehemiah'' * Flavius Josephus (''Antiquities of the Jews'') * Thucydides (''History of the Peloponnesian War'') * Plato (''Laws (dialogue)'') *
Xenophon Xenophon of Athens (; grc, Ξενοφῶν Xenophon of Athens (; grc-gre, Ξενοφῶν, , ''Xenophōn''; – 354 BC) was an Athenian , image_skyline = File:Athens Montage L.png, center, 275px, alt=Athens mont ...

Xenophon
(''Cyropaedia'') * Quintus Curtius Rufus (''Library of World History'') * Plutarchos (''Plutarch's Lives'') * Fragments of Nicolaus of Damascus * Arrian (''Anabasis Alexandri'') * Polyaenus (''Stratagems in War'') * Justin (historian), Justin
''Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus''
* Polybius (''The Histories (Polybius)'') * Diodorus Siculus (''Bibliotheca historica'') * Athenaeus (''Deipnosophistae'') *
Strabo Strabo''Strabo'' (meaning "squinty", as in strabismus Strabismus is a condition in which the eyes do not properly align with each other when looking at an object. The eye that is focused on an object can alternate. The condition may be pre ...

Strabo
(''History'') * Quran (''Dhul-Qarnayn'', ''Al-Kahf'')


Modern sources

* * * * * * * * * Church, Alfred J. (1881).
Stories of the East From Herodotus
'. London: Seeley, Jackson & Halliday. * * * * * * Frye, Richard N. (1962). ''The Heritage of Persia''. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. * * * Moorey, P.R.S. (1991). ''The Biblical Lands'', VI. New York: Peter Bedrick Books . * Olmstead, A. T. (1948). ''History of the Persian Empire [Achaemenid Period]''. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. * Palou, Christine; Palou, Jean (1962). ''La Perse Antique''. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. * * * * * * *


Further reading

* Amelie Kuhrt
''Ancient Near Eastern History: The Case of Cyrus the Great of Persia''
In: Hugh Godfrey Maturin Williamson: ''Understanding the History of Ancient Israel''. Oxford University Press 2007, , pp. 107–28 * * * * * * * * * *


External links



Full Babylonian text of the Cyrus Cylinder as it was known in 2001; translation; brief introduction * Xenophon, ''Cyropaedia: the education of Cyrus'', translated by Henry Graham Dakyns and revised by F.M. Stawell
Project Gutenberg

360 Panoramic Image – Tomb of Cyrus The Great
, - , - , - , - {{DEFAULTSORT:Cyrus the Great Cyrus the Great, 600s BC births Year of birth uncertain 530 BC deaths 6th-century BC Kings of the Achaemenid Empire Kings of Anshan (Persia) 6th-century BC Babylonian kings 6th-century BC biblical rulers Book of Daniel people Book of Isaiah Ezra–Nehemiah Founding monarchs Monarchs killed in action Kings of the Universe City founders Babylonian captivity