Cyrus the Great

1 January 2017

Cyrus continued his expansion by moving west and conquered Croesus of Lydia in 546 BCE and ordered it split and ruled by satraps. Continuing to move west, he conquered the Chaldean empire of Babylon in 538 BCE of whom was led by King Nabonidus. Cyrus’ expansion continued to the Aegean Sea, where he had acquired several Greek city-states in Anatolia and had turn them over to satraps. His successors would later unsuccessfully try to conquer Greece. His empire also continued east to the Indus River Valley, where he eventually met his demise and the end of his empire. He had several capitals throughout his massive empire including Persepolis, Susa, Babylon, and Pasargadae, where he is buried to this day. Woodard 2

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The key factor that made Cyrus’ rule much more successful than previous and future leaders was the way he treated the conquered parts of his empire. He was known has a great leader even according to Herodotus, who compared him quite favorably to other Persian rulers. Herodotus said “it is because of this fixing of tribute [by Darius] and other similar ordinances that the Persians called Darius the merchant, Cambyses the master and Cyrus the father ; for Darius made petty profit out of everything, Cambyses was harsh and arrogant, Cyrus was merciful and always worked for their well-being”.?

Many accounts of his kindness were kept in the Cyrus Cylinder. The cylinder is written in Babylonian script stating that Marduk, the city-god of Babylon, had looked for a champion to restore Babylon to it’s old ways, and chose Cyrus, King of Persia, and declared him king of the world. ? Marduk ordered Cyrus to rule over the tribes of Iran justly, and to march on Babylon which was uncontested, and the King of Babylon surrendered and the people of Babylon rejoiced for Cyrus as their king.

Cyrus had set himself apart from other rulers by compromising with his empire rather than forcing his entire will on them. He accomplished this by allowing people that had been moved from their homeland to return, most notably allowing the Jews to return to Jerusalem after Nebuchadnezzar had them exiled and held captive in Babylon.? On top of them returning, Cyrus also encouraged them to rebuild their temple, which was also one of his finer qualities. During his conquests, he would allow the people to keep their religions and cultural differences, while allowing them to part of the Persian Empire.

While Cyrus did allow these freedoms, he also was able to create an empire-wide trade network as well as a commanding Woodard 3 army due to an overall agenda that allowed him to keep his people happy while allowing his empire to expand. By allowing the Jews to return home and build a temple, he knew fortifications would be built in order to protect the border of his empire. This also allowed for a buffer between the empire and Egypt.

He also was able to utilize the Phoenicians by using their trade network to gain access to Egypt’s resources in exchange for being a part of the Persian Empire. His eventual downfall came during his conquests in the Indus River Valley. According to Ctesias, he fought against the Derbici, a central- Asian tribe, who were assisted by the Indians, and they wounded him with a spear.? He was taken back to the capital city of Persepolis to die peacefully. Another account by Herodutus claims that Cyrus was at battle with the Massagetae, and he was knocked off his horse by Tomyrus, the queen of the Massagatae. She then cut his head off with a single slice.

Due to these, the exact cause of Cyrus’ death cannot be determined, though he was buried in Pasargadae. ? Throughout all of the rulers in the Ancient World, Cyrus the Great was one of the most successful because he knew how to be a benevolent ruler. Instead of being demanding and risking rebellions, he learned how to compromise with his people, and allow them to have freedom while still having control, which ultimately led to one of the greatest empires built to this day.

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