Born ca. 550 BCE
Called the "wild ass" he was Great King of Persia, 420-439. Sources: 1. Stuart, R.W. "Royalty for Commoners" line 408.
In 525 BCE the Persian emperor Cambyses II, son of Cyrus the Great, who h ad already named his son as king of Babylon though Cambyses II resigned th at position after only one year, invaded Egypt and successfully overthr ew the native Egyptian pharaoh, Psamtek III, last ruler of Egypt's 26th Dy nasty to become the first ruler of Egypt's 27th Persian Dynasty. His fath er had earlier attempted an invasion of Egypt against Psamtek III's predec essor, Amasis, but Cyrus' death in 529 BCE put a halt to that expedition. After capturing Egypt, Cambyses took the Throne name Mesut-i-re (Mesuti-Ra ), meaning "Offspring of Re". Though the Persians would rule Egypt for t he next 193 years until Alexander the Great defeated Darius III and conque red Egypt in 332 BCE, Cambyses II's victory would bring to an end (for t he most part) Egyptians truly ruling Egyptians until the mid 20th centur y, when Egypt finally shrugged off colonial rule. We know very little about Cambyses II through contemporary texts, but h is reputation as a mad tyrannical despot has come down to us in the writin gs of the Greek historian Herodotus (440 BC) and a Jewish document from 4 07 BCE known as 'The Demotic Chronicle' which speaks of the Persian king d estroying all the temples of the Egyptian gods. However, it must be repeat edly noted that the Greeks shared no love for the Persians. Herodotus info rms us that Cambyses II was a monster of cruelty and impiety. Herodotus gives us three tales as to why the Persians invaded Egypt. In on e, Cambyses II had requested an Egyptian princess for a wife, or actual ly a concubine, and was angered when he found that he had been sent a la dy of second rate standing. In another, it turns out that he was the basta rd son of Nitetis, daughter of the Saite (from Sais) king Apries, and ther efore half Egyptian anyway, whereas the third story provides that Cambys es II, at the age of ten, made a promise to his mother (who is now Cassand ane) that he would "turn Egypt upside down" to avenge a slight paid to he r. However, Ctesias of Cnidus states that his mother was Amytis, the daugh ter of the last king of independent Media so we are really unsure of th at side of his parentage. While even Herodotus doubts all of these storie s, and given the fact that his father had already planned one invasi on of Egypt, the stories do in fact reflect the later Greek bias towards h is Persian dynasty. Regardless of Cambyses II's reason for his invasion of Egypt, Herodotus no tes how the Persians easily entered Egypt across the desert. They were adv ised by the defecting mercenary general, Phanes of Halicarnassus, to empl oy the Bedouins as guides. However, Phanes had left his two sons in Egyp t. We are told that for his treachery, as the armies of the Persians and t he mercenary army of the Egyptians met, his sons were bought out in fro nt of the Egyptian army where they could be seen by their father, and the re throats were slit over a large bowl. Afterwards, Herodotus tells us th at water and wine were added to the contents of the bowl and drunk by eve ry man in the Egyptian force. This did not stop the ensuing battle at Pelusium, Greek pelos, which was t he gateway to Egypt. Its location on Egypt's eastern boundary, meant th at it was an important trading post was well and also of immense strateg ic importance. It was the starting point for Egyptian expeditions to As ia and an entry point for foreign invaders. Here, the Egyptian forces were routed in the battle and fled back to Memph is. Apparently Psamtek III managed to escape the ensuing besiege of the Eg yptian capital, only to be captured a short time afterwards and was carri ed off to Susa in chains. Herodotus goes on to tell us of all the outrag es that Cambyses II then inflicted on the Egyptians, not only including t he stabbing of a sacred Apis bull and his subsequent burial at the Serape um in Saqqara, but also the desecration and deliberate burning of the emba lmed body of Amasis (a story that has been partly evidenced by destructi on of some of Amasis' inscriptions) and the banishment of other Egyptian o pponents. The story of Cambyses II's fit of jealousy towards the Apis bull, wheth er true or simply Greek propaganda, was intended to reflect his personal f ailures as a monarch and military leader. In the three short years of h is rule over Egypt he personally led a disastrous campaign up the River Ni le into Ethiopia. There, we are told, his ill-prepared mercenary army w as so meagerly supplied with food that they were forced to eat the fle sh of their own colleagues as their supplies ran out in the Nubian deser t. The Persian army returned northwards in abject humiliation having fail ed even to encounter their enemy in battle. Then, of course, there is also the mystery of his lost army, some fifty th ousand strong, that vanished in the Western Desert on their way to the Si wa Oasis along with all their weapons and other equipment, never to be hea rd of again. Cambyses II had also planned a military campaign against Cart hage, but this too was aborted because, on this occasion, the king's Phoen ician sea captains refused to attack their kinfolk who had founded the Car thagian colony towards the end of the 8th century BC. In fact, the conque st of Egypt was Cambyses' only spectacular military success in his seven y ears of troubled rule over the Persian empire. However, we are told that when the Persians at home received news of Camby ses' several military disasters, some of the most influential nobles revol ted, swearing allegiance to the king's younger brother Bardiya. With the ir support, the pretender to the great throne of Cyrus seized power in Ju ly 522 BC as Cambyses II was returning home. The story is told that, on hearing of this revolt, and in haste to mount h is horse to swiftly finish the journey home, Cambyses II managed to stab h imself in the thigh with his own dagger. At that moment, he began to reca ll an Egyptian prophecy told to him by the priests of Buto in which it w as predicted that the king would die in Ecbatana. Cambyses II had thoug ht that the Persian summer capital of Ecbatana had been meant and th at he would therefore die in old age. But now he realized that the prophe cy had been fulfilled in a very different way here in Syrian Ecbatana. Still enveloped in his dark and disturbed mood, Cambyses II decided that h is fate had been sealed and simply lay down to await his end. The wound so on became gangrenous and the king died in early August of 522 BCE. Howeve r, it should be noted that other references tell us that Cambyses II had h is brother murdered even prior to his expedition to Egypt, but apparent ly if it was not Bardiya (though there is speculation that Cambyses II's s ervants perhaps did not kill his brother as ordered), there seems to ha ve definitely been an usurper to the throne, perhaps claiming to be his br other, who we are told was killed secretly. Modern Egyptologists believe that many of these accounts are rather biase d, and that Cambyses II's rule was perhaps not nearly so traumatic as Hero dotus, who wrote his history only about 75 years after Cambyses II's demis e, would have us believe. In reality, the Saite dynasty had all but comple tely collapsed, and it is likely that with Psamtek III's (Psammetichus II I) capture by the Persians, Cambyses II simply took charge of the countr y. The Egyptians were particularly isolated at this time in their histor y, having seen there Greek allies defect, including not only Phanes, but P olycrates of Samos. In addition, many of Egypt's minorities, such as t he Jewish community at Elephantine and even certain elements within the Eg yptian aristocracy, seem to have even welcomed Cambyses II's rule. The Egyptian evidence that we do have depicts a ruler anxious to avoid off ending Egyptian susceptibilities who at least presented himself as an Egyp tian king in all respects. It is even possible that the pillaging of Egypt ian towns told to us by Greek sources never occurred at all. In an inscrip tion on the statue of Udjadhorresnet, a Saite priest and doctor, as we ll as a former naval officer, we learn that Cambyses II was prepared to wo rk with and promote native Egyptians to assist in government, and th at he showed at least some respect for Egyptian religion. For example, reg ardless of the death of the Apris Bull, it should be noted that the animal 's burial was held with proper pomp, ceremony and respect. Udjahorresnet a lso tells us that: "I let His Majesty know the greatness of Sais, that it is the seat of Neit h-the-Great, mother who bore Re and inaugurated birth when birth had not y et been...I made a petition to the majesty of the King of Upper and Low er Egypt, Cambyses, about all the foreigners who dwelled in the temp le of Neith, in order to have them expelled from it., so as to let the tem ple of Neith be in all its splendor, as it had been before. His Majesty c ommanded to expel all the foreigners who dwelled in the temple of Neit h, to demolish all their houses and all their unclean things that we re in the temple. When they had carried all their personal belongings outside the wall of t he temple, His Majesty commanded to cleanse the temple of Neith and to ret urn all its personnel to it...and the hour-priests of the temple. His Maje sty commanded to give divine offerings to Neith-the-Great, the mother of g od, and to the great gods of Sais, as it had been before. His Majesty kn ew the greatness of Sais, that it is a city of all the gods, who dwell the re on their seats forever." Indeed, Cambyses II continued Egyptian policy regarding sanctuaries and na tional cults, confirmed by his building work in the Wadi Hammamat a nd at a few other Egyptian temples. Udjadhorresnet goes on to say in his autobiography written on a naophoro us statue now in the Vatican collection at Rome, that he introduced Cambys es II to Egyptian culture so that he might take on the appearance of a tra ditional Egyptian Pharaoh. However, even though Cambyses II had his name written in a kingly Egypti an cartouche, he did remained very Persian, and was buried at Takht-i-Rust am near Persepolis (Iran). It has been suggested that Cambyses II may ha ve originally followed a traditional Persian policy of reconciliation in t he footsteps of their conquests. In deed, it may be that Cambyses II's ru le began well enough, but with the his defeats and losses, his mood may ve ry well have turned darker with time, along with his actions. We do know that there was a short lived revolt which broke out in Egypt af ter Cambyses II died in 522 BC, but the independence was lost almost immed iately to his successor, a distant relative and an officer in Cambyses II 's army, named Darius. The dynasty of Persian rulers who then ruled Egy pt did so as absentee landlords from afar. The Lost Army of Cambyses II Within recent years all manner of artifacts and monuments have been discov ered in Egypt's Western Desert. Here and there, new discoveries of templ es and tombs turn up, even in relatively inhabited areas where more mode rn structures are often difficult to distinguish from ancient ruin s. It is a place where the shifting sands can uncover whole new archaeolog ical worlds, and so vast that no more than very small regions are ever inv estigated systematically by Egyptologists. In fact, most discoveries if n ot almost all are made by accident, so Egypt antiquity officials must rema in ever alert to those who bring them an inscribed stone unearthed benea th a house, or a textile fragment found in the sand. Lately, there has been considerable petroleum excavation in the Western De sert. Anyone traveling the main route between the near oasis will see th is activity, but the exploration for oil stretched much deeper into the We stern Desert. It is not surprising that they have come upon a few archaeol ogical finds, and it is not unlikely that they will come across others. Ve ry recently, when a geological team from the Helwan University geologis ts found themselves walking through dunes littered with fragments of texti les, daggers, arrow-heads, and the bleached bones of the men to whom all t hese trappings belonged, they reported the discovery to the antiquity serv ice. Mohammed al-Saghir of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) now believ es that this accidental find may very well be at least remnants of the mys terious Lost Army of Cambyses II, and he is now organizing a mission to in vestigate the site more thoroughly. If he is successful and the discove ry is that of Cambyses II's 50,000 strong lost army, than it will not on ly answer some ancient mysteries, but will probably also provide us wi th a rich source of information on the Persian military of that time, a nd maybe even expand our knowledge of Cambyses II himself. The Persian arm ed forces consisted of many elements, including companies of foreign merce naries such as Greeks, Phoenicians, Carians, Cilicians, Medes and Syrian s. Hence, if this is not another false lead, we may expect excellent prese rvation of helmets, leather corselets, cloth garments, spears, bows, swor ds and daggers a veritable treasure trove of military memorabilia. The r ations and support equipment will all be there, ready for detailed analysi s. However, it should be noted that some Egyptologists question the very exis tence of such an army, rather believing that the whole affair was simp ly a fable told by a very prejudiced Greek. Yet if true, Cambyses II probably sent his army to Siwa Oasis in the Weste rn Desert to seek (or seize) legitimization of his rule from the orac le of Amun, much as Alexander the Great would do in the 4th century BC. Ho wever, the army was overtaken by a sandstorm and buried. For centuries adv enturers and archaeologists have tried to find the lost army, and at time s, tantalizing, though usually false glues have been discovered. Legitimizing his rule does not fully explain the need for taking such a la rge army to the Siwa Oasis. Accounts and other resources provide that t he priests of the oracle were perhaps posing a danger to Cambyses II's rul e, probably encouraging revolt among the native Egyptians. Perhaps the pri ests felt slighted that Cambyses II had not immediately sought their appro val as Alexander the Great would do almost upon his arrival in Egypt. Ther efore, it is likely that Cambyses II intended to forces their legitimizati on of his rule. In fact, some sources believe that his intent was to simp ly destroy the Oasis completely for their treachery, while it is also kn ow that the army was to continue on after Siwa in order to attack the Liby ans. Yet the Siwa Oasis, the western most of Egypt's Oasis, is much deeper in to the desert than others, such as Bahariya, and apparently, like ma ny of Cambyses II's military operations, this one too was ill conceived. W hy he so easily entered Egypt with the help of the Bedouins, and than se nt such a large force into the desert only to be lost is a mystery. We know that the army was dispatched from the holy city of Thebes, support ed by a great train of pack animals. After a seven day march, it reached t he Kharga Oasis and moved on to the last of the near Oasis, the Bahariy a, before turning towards the 325 kilometers of desert that separated it f rom the Siwa Oasis. It would have been a 30 day march through burning he at with no additional sources of water or shade. According to Herodotus (as later reported to him by the inhabitants of Siw a), after many days of struggle through the soft sand, the troops were res ting one morning when calamity struck without warning. "As they were at th eir breakfast, a wind arose from the south, strong and deadly, bringing wi th it vast columns of whirling sand, which buried the troops and caused th em utterly to disappear." Overwhelmed by the powerful sandstorm, men and a nimals alike were asphyxiated as they huddled together, gradually being en veloped in a sea of drift-sand. It was after learning of the loss of his army that, having witnessed the r everence with which the Egyptians regarded the sacred Apis bull of Memph is in a ceremony and believing he was being mocked, he fell into a rage, d rew his dagger and plunged it into the bull-calf. However, it seems th at he must have latter regretted this action, for the Bull was buried wi th due reverence. References: Chronicle of the Pharaohs (The Reign-By-Reign Record of the Rulers and Dyn asties of Ancient Egypt) Clayton, Peter A. 1994 Thames and Hudson Ltd IS BN 0-500-05074-0 Egypt in Late Antiquity Bagnall, Roger S. 1993 Princeton University Pre ss ISBN 0-691-1096-x History of Ancient Egypt, A Grimal, Nicolas 1988 Blackwell None Stated Monarchs of the Nile Dodson, Aidan 1995 Rubicon Press ISBN 0-948695-20-x Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, The Shaw, Ian 2000 Oxford University Pre ss ISBN 0-19-815034-2
Darius II had to contend with a revolt by the Medes which he put down a nd palace intrigues that included a eunuch who tried to make himself ki ng but failed. In Egypt a revolt was motivated by the desire to destroy t he Jewish temple at Elephantine that was offensive because of its animal s acrifices. In 409 BCE the Athenians invaded Asia and burned the grain in L ydia. The queen got her 16-year-old son Cyrus appointed commander of the P ersian forces in Asia Minor, and he began paying Sparta what had been prom ised; but he kept the Spartan general Callicratidas waiting two days whi le he drank. Cyrus also had two sons of the king's sister executed for sho wing their hands in his presence. Recalled to his ill father, Cyrus turn ed his money over to Lysander which enabled the Spartans to win the batt le at Aegospotami and cut off grain supplies from Russia, starving Athe ns into surrender in 404 BCE. By the time Darius II had died in 404 BCE Egypt had revolted and was lo st to the Persian empire. Artaxerxes II began his rule by cruelly executi ng Udiastes for having assassinated Teriteuchmes. Cyrus was caught plotti ng to murder the new king at his coronation; but their mother pleaded f or her favorite, and Cyrus was allowed to return to his satrapy. Cyrus w as able to win over the Ionian cities abandoned by the Spartans except f or Miletus, which was held by Tissaphernes after they banished their arist ocrats. The exiles were received by Pharnabazus, giving Cyrus a reas on to gather an army that included 13,000 Greek mercenaries to besiege Mil etus. As Cyrus and his army headed east, the mercenaries demanded more mon ey. At Cunaxa near Babylon Cyrus met the Persian army that might otherwi se have been used to reconquer Egypt. Cyrus wounded Artaxerxes but was th en killed. The next year the queen-mother Parysatis poisoned Queen Statei ra and was banished to her native Babylon, but later the forgiving Artaxer xes recalled his mother. Tissaphernes succeeded Cyrus as margrave of Anato lia.
Born 660 BCE
Destroyed Babylonian Empire Born/Died ca. 590-August, 529 BCE Cyrus (580-529 BC) was the first Achaemenian Emperor. He founded Pers ia by uniting the two original Iranian Tribes- the Medes and the Persian s. Although he was known to be a great conqueror, who at one point control led one of the greatest Empires ever seen, he is best remembered for his u nprecedented tolerance and magnanimous attitude towards those he defeated. Upon his victory over the Medes, he founded a government for his new kingd om, incorporating both Median and Persian nobles as civilian officials. T he conquest of Asia Minor completed, he led his armies to the eastern fron tiers. Hyrcania and Parthia were already part of the Median Kingdom. Furth er east, he conquered Drangiana, Arachosia, Margiana and Bactria. After cr ossing the Oxus, he reached the Jaxartes, where he built fortified towns w ith the object of defending the farthest frontier of his kingdom against n omadic tribes of Central Asia. The victories to the east led him aga in to the west and sounded the hour for attack on Babylon and Egypt. Wh en he conquered Babylon, he did so to cheers from the Jewish Community, w ho welcomed him as a liberator- he allowed the Jews to return to the promi sed Land. He showed great forbearance and respect towards the religious be liefs and cultural traditions of other races. These qualities earned him t he respect and homage of all the people over whom he ruled. As Prof. Richard Frye of Harvard said (in The Heritage of Persia, p10-151) : "In the victories of the Persians... what was different was the new poli cy of reconciliation and together with this was the prime aim of Cyr us to establish a pax Achaemenica..... If one were to assess the achieveme nts of the Achaemenid Persians, surely the concept of One World, .... t he fusion of peoples and cultures in one 'Oecumen' was one of their import ant legacies" The victory over Babylonia expressed all the facets of the policy of conci liation which Cyrus had followed until then. He presented himself n ot as a conqueror, but a liberator and the legitimate successor to the cro wn. He took the title of "King of Babylon_ King of the Land". Cyrus h ad no thought of forcing conquered people into a single mould, and had t he wisdom to leave unchanged the institution of each kingdom he attach ed to the Persian Crown. In 537 BC he allowed more than 40,000 Jews to lea ve Babylon and return to Palestine. This step was in line with his poli cy to bring peace to Mankind. A new wind was blowing from the east, carryi ng away the cries and humility of defeated and murdered victims, extinguis hing the fires of sacked cities, and liberating nations from slavery. Cyrus was upright, a great leader of men, generous and benelovent. The Hel lenes, whom he conquered regarded him as 'Law-giver' and the Jews as 't he annointed of the Lord'. Prior to his death, he founded a new capital city at Pasargade in Fars. a nd had established a government for his Empire. He appointed a governor (s atrap) to represent him in each province, however the administration, legi stlation, and cultural activities of each province was the responsibili ty of the Satraps. Accoding to Xenophon Cyrus is also reputed to have devi sed the first postal system, (Achaemenide achievements). His doctrines were adopted by the future emperors of the Achaemenian dynas ty. Darius I (521-486 BC) brought together skills and craftsmen from all o ver the empire in building the city of Persepolis.
Born/Died ca. 550-486 BCE The ruler who succeeded Cambyses in the vast empire of Persia was the ab le and honored Darius I. Cambyses left no heirs, and Darius, one of his ge nerals, fought his way to sovereignty against many rivals. At one ti me he had eight revolts upon his hands at once. The native Persians wer e, however, his supporters throughout; and in the days of his establish ed sovereignty he claimed to be of the royal family of Cyrus and to have b een chosen by the Persian god of all good, Ormuzd, as the ruler of the emp ire. Darius governed the world wisely, and, for the most part, peacefully. He e stablished post-roads everywhere, and a postal service. He had office rs of justice in every land, a police force, and a regular system of taxat ion. He was also a great builder, the founder of the Persian capital, Pers epolis; and his tomb near Persepolis is, perhaps, the most impressive rema ining monument of Persian civilization. The face of a frowning precipice h as been smoothed in the form of a cross, with the entrance to the to mb in the centre. All around this, the rock face has been carved with insc riptions and sculptures, the chief of which give Darius' own idea of his c rowning by Ormuzd, the welcome given him by the true Persians, and his tri umph over all the other pretenders to the throne. Darius founded the line of emperors who ruled Persia until its conque st by Alexander the Great. Additional Information: Darius I was the second ruler of the Twenty-seventh Dynasty. He was s on of Hystaspes and a member of the Cyrus family. He was in Egypt while Ca mbyses ruled and Darius treated the Egyptians with respect and goodwill. D uring his reign he undertook the completion of the canal that extended fr om the Nile to the Red Sea. He also expanded the Serapeum at Saqqara as we ll as erected a large temple of Amun in el-Kharga, a southwestern oasis. D uring his reign there was the defeat of the Persians in the battle of Mara thon. This showed that the great empire was not invincible and a revo lt in Egypt followed. By Bernard Suzanne: Darius, a member of the Achemenides family, raised to the throne of the ki ngdom of Persia by taking part, in 522, in a plot to assassinate Smerdi s, who had assumed the kingship that same year at the death of his broth er Cambyses on his way back from Egypt. Both Cambyses and Smerdis were so ns of Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian Empire. Darius, on the o ther hand, was a remote cousin of them. The story of the plot of Darius a nd six other high-ranking Persians to assassinate Smerdis, who, they prete nded, was not the son of Cyrus by that name, but an impostor, a Medean mag us posing for Cyrus's son, who, by their account, had been murdered earli er at the request of his own brother Cambyses, is told by Herodotus in h is Histories (Histories, III, 61-88). It offers him an opportunity to p ut in the mouth of three of the conspirators, when time comes to decide h ow tu rule the empire, three speeches, one in favor of democracy (Historie s, III, 80), one in favor of aristocratic oligarchy, the rule by a small g roup of persons chosen among the best citizens (Histories, III, 81), and t he last one, by Darius himself, who eventually prevails, in favor of monar chy, supposed to be the very best of all three regimes, each taken at i ts best (Histories, III, 82). Plato alludes to the story of the plot of "t he Seven" when, at Laws, III, 695c, he has the Athenian stranger analyse p ast history to try and draw lessons from it, and also in the VIIth Lette r, at 331e-332b, to compare Dionysius, the Sicilian tyrant of Syracuse la ck of trusted friends to Darius reliance upon his coconspirators. If Cyrus and Cambyses built the Persian empire by conquering a terrrito ry spanning from the Ionian coast west to India east, and from Scythia, Ca ucasus and the southern shores of the Black and Caspian Seas north to Lybi a, Egypt and the shores of the Persian Gulf south, it is Darius who organi zed its administration. He moved his residence to the Elamite city of Sus a, which became the administrative capital of his empire and where he h ad a gigantic palace built for himself. He divided his vast empire into sa trapies (20 according to Herodotus, who describes their composition at His tories, III, 89-94) headed by Satraps and submitted to an annual tribut e, and built roads across the empire to ease the communications requir ed to administer such a huge territory (Herodotus in his Histories (V, 52- 54) gives a description of the road leading from Sardis, the capital of Ly dia, along the Ionian coast, which had become the siege of a satrapy, to S usa). He also directed the building, in his native country of Persia, of a nother palace at Persepolis (the "Persian city" by Greek etymology). But Darius was not merely an administrator and, after curbing several rebe llions in various parts of the empire during his first year in power, he a lso continued the politic of expansion of his ancestors, toward the ea st in India, as well as toward the west and Europe, starting with Thraci a. In 499, some Ionian Greek cities of the satrapy of Lydia, under the lea dership of Aristagoras of Miletus, rebelled against the Persians and set f ire to Sardis. It was not until 494, with the naval victory of the Persi an fleet at Lade, off the shores of Miletus, and the recapture of Miletu s, that the rebellion was completely curbed. Having thus subdued the Ioni an Greeks, Darius set out to conquer the rest of Greece, which led to t he first Persian War. But his troops were stopped by the Athenians at t he battle of Marathon in 490 (Herodotus' Histories (VI, 102-120). It was l eft to his son Xerxes to lead a second attempt in 480, with no more succe ss (2nd Persian War). Darius' reign marks the apogee of the Persian Empire, which started to cru mble by the mere fact of its size after his death, until it was conquer ed by Alexander the Great (who entered Susa in 331). The reign of Darius spans most of the period covered by Herodotus' Histori es, a part going from the middle of book III (III, 67) to the beginni ng of book VII (VII, 1-4) In the Phædrus, Plato cites Darius at the side of Solon and Lycurgus, t he half legendary lawgiver of Sparta, as examples of successfull lawmake rs (Phaedrus, 258c). And in the Laws, the Athenian stranger praises Dari us for the way he ruled his country, but reproaches him not to have learn ed from Cyrus' mistakes in raising his children, and to have done the sa me mistakes with his son Xerxes, that is, to let him have a pampered child hood he himself didn't have, not being the son of a king (Laws, III, 695c- e). In the Menexenus, faithful to the rules of the funeral oration he is c aricaturing, he exalts the power of Darius only to give more luster to t he Athenian victory at Marathon (Menexenus, 239d-240e).
Born/Died 475-Spring 404 BCE Darius II was the fifth king of the Twenty-seventh Dynasty. During his rei gn, he did some work on the temple of Amun is the Kharga oasis. There we re also many foreigners in Egypt during this time, mostly Greeks and Jews. Additional Information: Darius II had to contend with a revolt by the Medes which he put down a nd palace intrigues that included a eunuch who tried to make himself ki ng but failed. In Egypt a revolt was motivated by the desire to destroy t he Jewish temple at Elephantine that was offensive because of its animal s acrifices. In 409 BCE the Athenians invaded Asia and burned the grain in L ydia. The queen got her 16-year-old son Cyrus appointed commander of the P ersian forces in Asia Minor, and he began paying Sparta what had been prom ised; but he kept the Spartan general Callicratidas waiting two days whi le he drank. Cyrus also had two sons of the king's sister executed for sho wing their hands in his presence. Recalled to his ill father, Cyrus turn ed his money over to Lysander which enabled the Spartans to win the batt le at Aegospotami and cut off grain supplies from Russia, starving Athe ns into surrender in 404 BCE. By the time Darius II had died in 404 BCE Eg ypt had revolted and was lost to the Persian empire.
He was Great King of Persia, 459-484. Sources: 1. Stuart, R.W. "Royalty for Commoners" line 408.
He was Great King of Persia, 579-590. Sources: 1. Stuart, R.W. "Royalty for Commoners" line 408. Tyrannized the Jews during his reign, forcing many to flee, including t he leaders of the academies.
He was Great King of Persia, 302-309.
He was Great King of Persia, 498-531. Sources: 1. Stuart, R.W. "Royalty for Commoners" line 408. When Kavadh claimed the throne, he received a large but disorganized Empir e. He quickly realized that the Empire required two things to be done: t he army needed to be reorganized and enlarged and the provinces need ed to be brought further into the Imperial system. Both of these he had ac complished by the end of his reign. To secure the peace he signed a non-ag gression pact with the Eastern Roman Empire in 500. He reestablished the I mperial Navy, which had been allowed to disappear. To this end, he bui lt a new port city of Kavadh in Fars, beginning its construction in 50 0. He died of natural causes while with the army overseeing the defens es of the eastern part of the realm. The Empire was much stronger and secu re because of his rule.
As "Chosroes Parvez" or "Chosroes the Victorious" he was Great King of Persia, 590-628. Sources: 1. Stuart, R.W. "Royalty for Commoners" line 408. The Byzantine Emperor Heracleius waged a campaign against Khusraw II Parw iz and this campaign would be colored in a religious way because of the ca pture of the Holly Cross by the Sasanian troops in Jerusalem (615). The Pe rsian-Byzantine war would end in 627 with the defeat of the Persian troop s. Khusraw II was murdered in 628 and was succeeded by his son Shiroyye. The last two decades of the Sasanian era were a real decay for the empir e. Kings with insufficient and improbable personality to rule lead the emp ire faster to the destruction. The only exception was Yazdgird III, the la st Sasanian king who tried to save its state from the destruction. His fin ancial and military reforms were remarkable but it was too late for Yazdgi rd III to change the fate. The battle of Nihavad (642) and the last batt le of Qadisiya (651) were the two events that sealed the end of the Sasani an era. Islam, the new religion, would change the fate of Iran and a n ew chapter in the Iranian history would be writte
Khosrow I (Khosrow Anüshirvan) (khsr´; nshrvän´), d. 579, king of Persia ( 531-79), greatest of the Sassanid or Sassanian monarchs. He is also kno wn as Chosroes I. He succeeded his father, Kavadh I, but before becoming k ing, Khosrow was responsible for a great massacre (c.528) of the communist ic Mazdakites. He extended Persian rule E to the Indus River with the capt ure (560) of Bactria, W across Arabia by establishing (570) at least nomin al rule over Yemen, and north and northwest by taking part of Armenia a nd Caucasia from the Byzantine Empire. He fought against Belisarius and t he other generals of Justinian I and against Justin II. Khosrow is rever ed by the Persians as a just though despotic ruler who encouraged learnin g, stimulated commerce, rebuilt cities, and set up a reformed system of ta xation. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Copyright © 2002 Columbia Univer sity Press Additional information Khusraw I Anushirwan (=Immortal Soul) was the last great Sasanian King. Du ring his reign (A.D. 531-579) the prosperity of the Sasanian empire reach ed its height in every part. He fought against Justinian I and manag ed to sign beneficial for his empire agreements with the Romans. He conque red Yemen establishing a new era for the commercial power of Persia in t he Red Sea. Glorious buildings, like the Great palace in Ctesiphon, were c reated. The first university was established at Gondishapour and the liter ary production of this period is doubtless (e.g the book Kalila va Damaneh ). He ruled in an absolute way, being at the same time popular. The influe nce of the clergy became less by his policy. Doubtless it could be support ed that Khusraw Anushirwan?s reign was an Iranian renaissance. However the effort of Khusraw I was only temporary. His predecessors fail ed to continue the achievements of his reign. On the contrary the civil co nflicts in the Sasanian empire lead gradually the state to the decline a nd fall. The reign of Khusraw II Parwiz was a period with many contradicti ons. Khusraw II wanted to be the first Sasanian king who would conquer a ll those lands that had been conquered by Darius I Histaspa in the 6th B. C. The lack of stability in the Byzantine Empire gave the Sasanian King t he chance to wage a war against the great enemy. Khusraw managed to conqu er Syria, Palestine, Egypt and a large part of Asia Minor. The dream of t he revival of the Achaemenid glory was a reality. However, this reality wo uld not last for long.
Died abt 395 BCE
Shahpuhr I, Ardashir?s son, took advantage of the prosperity brought to t he empire by his father and decided to wage a war against Rome. In A.D 2 60 he managed to capture the Roman emperor Valerianus and his son Gallianu s. Both of them died in captivity. During his reign Mani Khayyan created h is religious heresy, Manichaeism, which opposed to the official dogma of Z oroastrianism. The whole empire was shocked by Manichaeism but in the e nd the followers of this heresy were exiled to the eastern part of the Sas anian empire near Chinese provinces. During the reign of Vahram I and Vahr am II (till A.D. 302) the influence of the Zoroastrian clergy was dramatic ally increased because of the presence of Kartir, the Mubadan-i Mubad (=Gr eat Priest). The decisions for serious matters related to the empire we re not taken without Kartir?s opinion. The strength of Zoroastrian religi on became greater, especially in religious, political and financial matter s. The reign of Shahpuhr II is widely characterized as the start of the gold en age for the Sasanian Empire. He was a strict King but also very capab le of ruling such an enormous empire. He reigned for 70 years (325-379) a nd remained in history as the greatest military leader in the Sasanian Era . He managed to eliminate all the enemies of Persia in its eastern borders a nd show a strong face towards the great enemy of Persia, the Roman empir e. His state was extended from Chinese borders to Mesopotamia and from Cau casus Mts. to Punjab. The influence of the clergy became less due to the p olicy he followed. The image of Sasanian empire was improved and its pow er was approved by the rest of the world. However the predecessors of Shah puhr II (Ardashir II, Ardashir III, Shahpuhr III) did not achieve anythi ng that could compare them with Shapuhr II.
He was Great King of Persia, 309-379.
The son of Khosru, he ascended the throne at the age of 15. To protect t he Empire, he built the massive fortresses of Dur Khosru in As Summan, D ur Kuwait in Kuwait and Dur Socotra in Socotra. The later was to ser ve as the main southern naval base for the Empire. Shortly after the fortr esses were built Arab hordes inflamed by the new religion of Islam invad ed the Empire. The hordes besieged Dur Khosru for six months during the fa ll of 521 and the winter of 522. Lord Hormizd, the commander of the fort f inally tried to break out. His army was annihilated and he was killed in t he battle for As Summan (21,500 casualties). The horde then moved into Bab ylonia where they were met by Shapur and the main Sassanid army in Ju ly of 522. The battle for Babylonia was hard fought but Shapur was forc ed to withdraw into Mesopotamia. Over 67,000 casualties littered the fie ld after the battle. Finally the horde was defeated and pushed back in t he battle for Mesopotamia (over 45,000 casualties). The horde conquered Ba bylonia and Chaldea during 523-524, establishing the so-called Shahd om of Abadan. The Islamic horde of Abu Bekr, knowing that they could not d efeat Persia, agreed to migrate into Syria in 525 but instead invaded Egyp t. Shapur quickly liberated southern Mesopotamia. Zoroastrian church troop s, along with Prince Yazdegerd, followed the Muslims and defeated them sou ndly when they were trying to escape from their defeat in Egypt. He also s igned a peace treaty with the new Islamic states of Oman and Aden, relinqu ishing Kuwait and As Summan to Oman for gold. Shapur next decided to punish both the so-called Abadanese and their prote ctors in Constantinople. To this end he devised a two pronged attack again st the Eastern Roman Empire. The Zoroastrian church swept through Carh ae in 531 and into Aleppo, militarily converting the populace to Zoroastri anism. Meanwhile, Shapur led his army into Syria to destroy the Muslims. T hey had migrated north the previous year, so he attacked and pacified t he region and sacked Damascus in 532 when it refused to surrender. Shap ur then led part of his army into Aleppo to aid the Church's troops in tak ing Antioch and the fortress of Cyrrhos in 533. Meanwhile, Prince Yazdege rd invaded Roman Lebanon and in a spectacular victory destroyed the enti re eastern Roman army, leaving over 50,000 Roman dead on the battlefiel d. All of Syria and northern Mesopotamia were now in Shapur's hands. Cyrrh os was then renamed Dur Shapur (the Fortress of Shapur). The Eastern Romans, knowing that they are defeated, signed a severe trea ty with Shapur. Constantinople turned over Lebanon, Edessa and Armen ia to Persia and agreed to pay a tribute of 135 gold. The Taurus Mountai ns were now the new border. After years of war Persia was finally at peac e. Shapur also transferred the Coptic region of Syria to his ally and frie nd the King of Egypt. Shapur's Peace had also given the Persian Empire an outlet to the Mediterr anean Sea for the first time since Alexander's conquest 870 years ago. Sha pur immediately ordered the re-building of the port city of Tyre so that P ersia could establish themselves on the Sea. He also began constructi on on an Imperial Road system. The later years of Shapur's reign were a di rect opposite of the chaotic and war- filled earlier years. He was ab le to finally settle down in the capital and to oversee the developme nt of the Empire. Various members of the Imperial family were married to f oreign Royalty in an effort to establish stronger ties with Persia's neigh bors. Shapur did send his son Cyrus to Europe with a vast armada in 5 57 to assist the Osmani in their war. Cyrus cleared the Rhine of Cathol ic ships and helped besiege Dijon during 558 and 559. Persia was a much gr eater Empire because of Shapur's reign
Born/Died 519-465 BCE Known as Ahasueras in the Bible Xerxes I, king of Persia (486-465 BCE), the son of Darius I. After ascend ing the throne, he subdued a rebellion in Egypt and then prepared a gre at army to attack the Greeks. In 480 BC he marched with his forces throu gh Thrace, Thessaly (Thessalia), and Locris and then burned Athens. At t he Battle of Salamís later that year, however, his fleet was defeat ed by a smaller contingent of Greek warships commanded by Athenian gener al Themistocles. Xerxes retired to Asia Minor. He was murdered at Persepol is by Artabanus, captain of the palace guard. Additional Information: Xerxes I was the third ruler of the Twenty-seventh Dynasty. The revolt th at began during the reign of Darius I, who was Xerxes' father, was final ly laid to rest during the second year of Xerxes I's reign. It is said th at the slaves' lives were much harder during the time of Xerxes. It is n ot certain whether this is true since Xerxes was much more involved elsewh ere and paid little attention to Egypt. By Bernard Suzanne: Xerxes became king of Persia at the death of his father Darius the Gre at in 485, at a time when his father was preparing a new expedition again st Greece and had to face an uprising in Egypt (Herodotus' Histories, VI I, 1-4). According to Herodotus, the transition was peaceful this time. Be cause he was about to leave for Egypt, Darius, following the law of his co untry had been requested to name his successor and to choose between the e lder of his sons, born from a first wife before he was in power, and the f irst of his sons born after he became king, from a second wife, Atossa, Cy rus' daughter, who had earlier been successively wed to her brothers Camby ses and Smerdis, and which he had married soon after reaching power in ord er to confirm his legitimacy. Atossa was said to have much power on Dari us and he chosed her son Xerxes for successor. After quelling the revolt of Egypt, Xerxes finally decided to pursue the p roject of his father to subdue Greece, but made lengthy preparations for t hat. Among other things, remembering what had happened to Mardonius' exped ition a few years earlier (his fleet had been destroyed by a tempest in 4 92 while trying to round Mount Athos), he ordered a channel to be opened f or his fleet north of Mount Athos in Chalcidice. He also had two boat brid ges built over the Hellespont near Abydus for his troop to cross the strai ts. The expedition was ready to move in the spring of 480 and Xerxes himself t ook the lead. Herodotus gives us a colorful description of the Persian ar my that he evaluates at close to two million men and about twelve hundr ed ships (Histories, VII, 59-100). Modern historians find these figures ir realistic, if only for logistical reasons, and suppose the army was at mo st two hundred thousand men and the fleet no more than a thousand ships, b ut this still makes an impressive body for the time. Xerxes' expedition mo ved by land and sea through Thracia, the fleet following the army along t he coast. It didn't meet resistance until it reached Thessalia, where t he Persian army defeated the Spartans and their allies at the pass of Ther mopylæ while, on sea, neither the Persian nor the Athenian fleet could w in the decision in the battle that took place near Cape Artemisium, alo ng the northern coast of the island of Euboea. Because of Themistocles' de cision to evacuate Athens, Xerxes managed to take the city and set fi re to the temples of the Acropolis, but his fleet was soon after destroy ed by the Athenian fleet of Themistocles at the battle of Salamis (Herodot us' Histories, VIII, 83-96 ; a vivid description of the battle of Salam is may also be found in Æschylus' Persians, 272-510). After this defeat, Xerxes returned to Asia via the Hellespont, leaving pa rt of his army in Greece under the command of Mardonius. But the followi ng year, after having taken Athens a second time, the Persian army was def eated, in September of 479, at Platæa, near Thebes in Boeotia, in a batt le that lasted 13 days, in which Mardonius was killed (Herodotus' Historie s, IX, 25-85) while, at about the same time, what remained of the Persi an fleet was destroyed by a Greek fleet under the command of the Spartan g eneral Leutychides off Cape Mycale, a promontory of the Ionian coast, nor th of Miletus, facing the island of Samos (Herodotus' Histories, IX, 90-10 6). This was not the end of the war between Persia and Greece, but it w as the end of the incursions of the Persian army on mainland Greece. And w ithout a fleet, Persia had to abandon control of the sea to Athens. Xerxes died in 465, assassinated probably upon order by one of his sons, A rtaxerxes, who succeeded him. In the Laws, Plato compares Xerxes to Cambyses in that, as him, he was vic tim of his education at the court, unlike his father Darius, who was n ot a son of king (Laws, III, 695c-e). And he goes on to say that it is alm ost impossible for someone raised in an extremely rich family to become vi rtuous, and to explain thus why there was no other great king of Persia af ter Darius. But it is Xerxes who serves as an example to Callicles in t he Gorgias to show that the stronger should have a greater share (Gorgia s, 483c-e).
Fled Persia after it was overrun by Arabs in the mid 600's. He was the fin al ruler of the Persian Sassanid Dynasty. Additional information Shortly before the Islamic invasion he was seriously wounded in an assassi nation attempt. He was then killed in battle against the Muslims. He was s ucceeded by his brother.
During the reign of Yazdgird I the peace with Roman Empire was the main a im of the Sasanian King, an aim finally achieved. The diplomatic relatio ns between Sasanian empire and Constantinople are considered friendly a nd peaceful while at the same time Yazdgird I followed a liberal policy f or the religious minorities of his empire. Yazdgird?s son, Bahram V G ur is known more for his glamorous feasts in his palace than for his battl es against the enemies of his country. He was a king keen on the literal w ay of life. He lived in an easygoing way at the top of the golden age of t he Sasanian period. Piruz I lived in a different way by spending most of his time in the battl e. He faced the invasions of the White Huns to the North Eastern borde rs of his empire. In 484 he was slaughtered by the Great Khaghan of the Hu ns. Valash was the prince chosen from the aristocracy and the clergy to s it on the throne taking the place of Pirouz. Valash was not a strong chara cter and aristocrats and the clergy were aware of his weakness. It was a g reat opportunity for them to strengthen their influence concerning the con trol of the political power. However, Kavadh I had a different opinion. In A.D. 488 was crowned Ki ng of the Sasanian state. He was a supporter of the social-religious se ct of Mazdak and a persona friend of the leader of the new heresy. The tui tion of Mazdakism was opposed to the power of the aristocracy and the cler gy. Kavadh decided to make several reforms, evidently influenced by Mazda k. The Bozorgan (Aristocrats) and Mubadan (Clergy) waged propaganda again st the Sasanian King. They forced him to abandon the throne and placed Jam asp, his brother, on the throne. Kavadh took refuge in the court of the H un King and after almost 2 years he returned to the throne based on the su pport of the Huns. This time he knew that he had to change his polic y, he stopped supporting Mazdak. In this second part of his reign he succe eded in approaching the clergy and the aristocrats and tried hard to reorg anize his state with several reforms in order to strengthen it.
Per: David K. Conover