Biography of Darius I | History, Facts

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Highlights of Darius I

Occupation King of Persia
Born 550 BC
Died 486 BC
Reign 522 BC – 486 BC
known for Ruling the Persian Empire at its peak

Early Years

In 550 BC, Darius was conceived. He was the son of a Persian satrap rather than a Persian king. A satrap was a ruler who served the king and was in charge of a particular territory. According to legend, Cyrus the Great, the king, had a dream that Darius would one day govern the entire world. In order to prevent Darius from attempting to kill Cambyses II, son of Cyrus, he gave Darius’ father instructions to keep an eye on Darius.

However, Darius had no desire to murder Cambyses. He joined the army as a spearman and, after becoming king, protected Cambyses by fighting with him.

Becoming the King

The Persian populace rose up in protest in 522 BC against Cambyses II’s authority. Gaumata assumed the role of Cambyses’ brother in order to steal the throne. Gaumata was killed by seven nobles, including Darius, who collected their forces.

A new government had to be chosen by the seven nobles. They talked about several forms of government, including monarchy, oligarchy, and democracy. They ultimately came to the conclusion that monarchy was the ideal form of government. The seven nobles decided to meet at dawn to determine who would be king. Each man rode his horse to the meeting. The monarch of Persia would be the first nobleman’s horse to neigh. Darius became king because his horse neighed first.

Building up the Empire

Darius first had to put down uprisings within his own realm. Early in his rule, there were plots to have him overthrown as well as significant uprisings like the one in Babylon led by Nebuchadnezzar III. Darius expanded his kingdom once he had complete control over it by capturing additional countries like Egypt and the Indus Valley. The Persian Empire quickly attained its height and grew to become one of the biggest in global history.

Conquering Greece

Darius made the decision to attack Greece when the Greeks started meddling in Ionian territory. Darius commanded a sizable force against the Greeks in what would become known as the First Persian War. But the army of Athens overcame him at the Battle of Marathon.


Darius was a very successful builder. He built huge palace complexes in the cities of Susa and Persepolis. In his reign, he also constructed a great number of temples and irrigation systems. In Egypt, Darius had a canal built that connected the Red Sea and the Nile River.

Darius had highways built all around the empire to aid with trade and communication. The Royal Road, which was over 1,700 miles long, was the most well-known route. The full length of the road could be covered by mounted couriers in about seven days.


In 486 BC, Darius perished. He was succeeded as king by his son Xerxes I.

Interesting Facts About Darius I

He divided his empire into twenty regions, giving each one a satrap as its ruler.

Darius registered who owned what land and then levied taxes in accordance with that information to raise money.

Darius was a devout follower of the Zoroastrian religion. He believed that he had been made king by the divinity Ahura Mazda.

The daric was a brand-new monetary unit that he introduced.

Ten years later, his son Xerxes I attempted to conquer Greece once more, but he was likewise unsuccessful because of his loss at the Battle of Salamis.

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