Biography of Cyrus the Great | History, Facts

Highlights of Cyrus the Great

Occupation King of the Persian Empire
Born 580 BC in Anshan, Iran
Died 530 BC in Pasargadae, Iran
Reign 559 – 530 BC
known for Founding the Persian Empire

Early Years

In the region of Persia, which is now Iran, Cyrus the Great was born in 580 BC. King Cambyses I of Anshan was his father. The early life of Cyrus is not well documented, however the Greek historian Herodotus did tell a legend about it.

Legend of Cyrus’ Youth

Cyrus was the Median King Astyages’ grandson, according to mythology. Astyages dreamed that Cyrus will one day defeat him before Cyrus was even born. He gave the command to leave the infant Cyrus to perish in the mountains. However, several herders saved the infant and nurtured him as their own.

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Cyrus’ noble birth became clear when he was ten, though. When King Astyages learned about the boy, he realized he was still alive. He then permitted Cyrus to go back to his parents’ house.

Establishing an Empire

Cyrus became king of Anshan at about twenty-one years of age. Anshan was still a tributary state of the Median Empire at this period. After organizing a rebellion against the Median Empire, Cyrus took control of all of Media in 549 BC. Now he referred to himself as the “King of Persia.”

Cyrus kept growing his hegemony. He subdued the Lydians to the west before focusing on Mesopotamia and the Babylonian Empire in the south. After defeating the Babylonian army in 540 BC, Cyrus entered Babylon and seized power. He was now in charge of all of Judea, Syria, and Mesopotamia. At the time, his united empire was the biggest in human history.

A Good King

Not a conqueror, but a liberator of people, Cyrus the Great regarded himself. He treated all his subjects equally, regardless of race or religion, as long as they didn’t revolt and paid their taxes. He consented to allowing the people he subdued to keep their native traditions and faith. In contrast to other empires like the Assyrian and the Babylonian, this one had a different kind of government.

Cyrus allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem after their exile in Babylon as part of his duty as liberator. At the time, there were more than 40,000 Jews being held captive in Babylon. He was given the title “the anointed of the Lord” by the Jews as a result.

Death of Cyrus

Cyrus passed away around 530 BC. He had 30 years of reign. His son Cambyses I succeeded him. The manner in which Cyrus passed away is subject to dispute. While some claim he passed away in battle, others claim he died peacefully in his capital city.

Cyrus the Great Interesting Facts

The Achaemenid Empire is another name for the Persian Empire.

His empire’s capital was Pasargadae, which is located in modern-day Iran. There are still his grave and memorial standing today.

The Cyrus cylinder details Cyrus’ contributions to the betterment of Babylonian society. It was referred to as a “declaration of human rights” by the UN.

10,000 elite army soldiers under Cyrus’ command later became known as the Immortals.

Cyrus created a postal system so that he could quickly convey communications throughout his vast realm.