Cyrus the Great was a famous king of the Persian Empire. He was born in 580 BC. Cyrus was famed as a ruler of Mesopotamia for his empire’s success in conquering neighboring kingdoms, and even defeating the Neo-Babylonian Empire. The Persian Empire is one of the five great Empires of Mesopotamia, and Cyrus the Great was the first ruler of the Persian Era of history.
Cyrus the Great ruled from 559 BC – 530 BC.
Cyrus the Great had many important achievements in his time as king; hence why we call him Cyrus the Great! His first biggest achievement was his establishment of the Persian Empire. Around the age of 21, Cyrus took over as king of Anshan, a small nation under the Median Empire of Mesopotamia.
(The Median Empire was not a particularly powerful Empire of Mesopotamia.) Cyrus led a revolt against his ruling empire and by 549 BC, had completely conquered the region of Media.
He renamed it Persia, and began to expand his empire from there. By conquering the Lydians to the west, he attained enough power to conquer the city of Babylon in 540 BC, and from there he took on the rest of Babylon. Because Babylon itself was so powerful, Cyrus the Great was now in charge of the largest empire in the history of the world.
At the time, Cyrus was famed for his ability to inspire loyalty among his people. As a King, Cyrus was regarded by his people to be very kind and fair. Cyrus ended the Babylonian subjugation (persecution/oppression) of the Jewish people, and released them to live free lives in his Empire.
Cyrus decreed that all people would be treated fairly in his Empire, no matter their religion. Because of this, the Jewish people bestowed upon him the title “Anointed by the Lord.” This system of treatment was different from that employed by previous empires, like the Babylonians and Assyrians.
In fact, even Cyrus’ method of conquering was different from that of his predecessors. While previous Kings would have completely demolished local systems of government, Cyrus allowed them to remain after defeating their armies; as long as they swore loyalty to him as King, he would allow them to manage their own affairs.
This allowed the Middle East to develop greatly under his rule. Cyrus was a very popular king with his people, and was revered as an almost mythical figure even during his lifetime.
In Mesopotamian and Greek myth, Cyrus the Great was spoken about almost like Romulus and Remus of Rome; a person destined to rule with honor and grace, whose legacy would last a thousand years. While this didn’t actually happen, the contribution he made to Persian civilization certainly lasted beyond his kingdom!
One of his greatest achievements as king was the publication of the world’s first human rights charters. A cylinder containing an example of this charter was discovered in 1878, during a research trip in the ruins of ancient Babylon.
In this charter, Cyrus stated that all the inhabitants of Babylon and the kingdoms it conquered would be treated with respect, and that all who threatened this peace would be harshly punished. While these rules aren’t merciful by today’s standards, this level of tolerance was unheard of at the time.
The Persian Empire was also famed for its architectural achievements. Building activity was extensive during the empire’s peak, and ruins found in the ancient cities of Persepolis (the capital of Persia) and Pasargadae are among the most outstanding. The Empire also had a very well-developed art style, and metalwork was a particularly common form of sculpture.
Cyrus died in battle around 530 BC. He was buried in a tomb in Pasargadae, and was succeeded by his son as King of Persia.
– 580 BC.
– 559 BC – 530 BC.
– The Persian Empire. It is sometimes called the Achaemenid Empire.
– He freed the Jews from their imprisonment in Babylon, and allowed people of all religions to live in his empire.