rezaderaz - Newspaper from Iran -

Published in Iran - Political debates and analysis - 08 Feb 2016 06:40 - 10


Cyrus The Great
Cyrus the Great (ca.600 - 529 BCE) was a towering figure inthe history of mankind. As the "father of the Iranian nation", he was
the first world leader to be referred to as "The Great". Cyrus
founded the first world empire - and the second Iranian dynastic empire (the
Achaemenids) - after defeating the Median dynasty and uniting the Medes with
the other major Iranian tribe, the Persians.
Etymology and lineage
The name "Cyrus" (a transliteration of the GreekKυρoς) is the Greek version of the Old-Persian kûruš or Khûrvaš meaning
"sun-like": the noun khûr denotes "sun" and -vaš is a
suffix of likeness.  In the Cyruscylinder (see below), the great king declares his ancestry as a Persian king.
The first leader of the Achaemenid dynasty was king Achaemenes of Anshan
(ca.700BCE). He was succeeded by his son Teispes of Anshan and inscriptions
indicate that when the latter died, two of his sons shared the throne: Cyrus I
of Anshan and Ariaramnes of Persia. They were succeeded by their respective
sons: Cambyses I and Arsames. Arsames was the ancestor of Darius the Great,
while Cambyses was the father of Cyrus the Great. Mandane, Cyrus' mother, was
the daughter of king Astyages, who was the last emperor of the Median dynastic
empire (728-550BCE).  Cyrus became king ofAnshan after his father's death in 559BCE, and initially reigned as Median
val king of the Persian tribes. He established his residence at Pasargadae
in Pars province, the centre of the Pasargadae tribe, to which the Achaemenid
clan belonged. Little is known of Cyrus' early life as the few known sources
have been damaged or lost. According to the ancient historians, Astyages was
told in a dream that his grandson, the baby Cyrus, would overthrow him. To
avoid this he ordered that the baby be killed. However the official delegated
with the task gave the baby to a shepherd instead. When Cyrus was ten years
old, the deception was discovered by Astyages, but because of the boy's
outstanding qualities he was allowed to live in exile with his mother.  Cyrus then revolted against Astyages in554BCE and in 550BCE the prophecy came true when Cyrus entered Ecbatana
(modern-day Hamadan), effectively conquering the Median Empire. Upon his
victory over his grandfather he founded a government for his new kingdom, incorporating
both Median and Persian nobles as civilian officials. He thus began to build
the first world empire.
'Cyrus' Empire Building
As the founder of the Achaemenid Empire, one of Cyrus'objectives was to gain power over the Mediterranean coast and secure Asia
Minor. Croesus of Lydia, Nabonidus of Babylonia and Amasis II of Egypt joined
in alliance with Sparta to try and thwart Cyrus - but this was to no avail.
Hyrcania, Parthia and Armenia were already part of the Median Kingdom. Cyrus
moved further east to annex Drangiana, Arachosia, Margiana and Bactria to his
territories. After crossing the Oxus, he reached the Jaxartes. There, he built
fortified towns with the object of defending the farthest frontier of his
kingdom against the Iranian nomadic tribes of Central Asia such as the
Scythians. The exact limits of Cyrus' eastern conquests are not known, but it
is possible that they extended as far as the Peshawar region in modern
Pakistan. After his eastern victories, he repaired to the west and invaded
Babylon. On 12 October 539BCE Cyrus, "without spilling a drop of
, annexed the Chaldaean empire of Babylonia - and on October 29 he
entered Babylon, arrested Nabonidus and umed the title of "King of
Babylon, King of Sumer and Akkad, King of the four corners of the
world".  Almost immediately he thenextended his control over the Arabian peninsula and the Levant also quickly
submitted to Persian rule. Although Cyrus did not conquer Egypt, by 535BCE all the
lands up to the Egyptian borders had acceded to Persian dominance. Newly
conquered territories had a measure of political independence, being ruled by
satraps. These (usually local) governors took full responsibility for the
administration, legislation and cultural activities of each province. According
to Xenophon, Cyrus created the first postal system in the world, and this must
have helped with intra-Empire communications. Babylon, Ecbatana, Pasargadae and
Susa were used as Cyrus' command centres. Cyrus' spectacular conquests
triggered the age of Empire Building, as carried out by his successors as well
as by the later Greeks and Romans.
Cyrus' religion
Almost nothing is known about Cyrus' personal beliefs, butXenophon reports to us that in religious matters he followed the guidance of
the Magians at his court. Although this is not universally agreed, Mary Boyce
has argued that Cyrus was indeed a Zoroastrian and that he thus followed in the
footsteps of his ancestors, from when they were Median vals in Anshan. She
has pointed out that the fire altars and the mausoleum at Pasargadae
demonstrate Zoroastrian practices, and has cited Greek texts as evidence that
Zoroastrian priests held positions of authority at Cyrus' court.
Cuneiform records from Babylon suggest that Cyrus died on 4December 530BCE. However, according to Herodotus, Cyrus was killed near the
Aral Sea in July or August 529BCE during a campaign to protect the
north­eastern borders of his empire from incursions by the Magetae.  Tomyris, the queen of the Magetae, had umedcontrol of her nation's forces after Cyrus had defeated and killed her son
Spargapises. She led the attack on the Iranian forces, who suffered heavy
casualties as well as losing their leader, Cyrus. After the battle, Tomyris
apparently ordered the body of Cyrus to be found so that she could avenge the
death of her son. She then dipped Cyrus' head in blood or by some accounts
ordered his head to be put into a wine-skin filled with human blood. At Cyrus'
death, his son Cambyses II succeeded him. He attacked the Magetae to recover
Cyrus's ravaged body, before burying it at Pasargadae.
The cylinder of Cyrus the Great
The Cyrus cylinder was discovered in 1878CE at the site ofBabylon. It is inscribed in Akkadian cuneiform. Now housed in the British Museum,
it includes a detailed account by Cyrus of his conquest of Babylon in 539BCE
and his subsequent humane treatment of his conquered subjects. It has been
hailed as the world's first declaration of human rights. The (incomplete)
inscription on the cylinder starts by describing the criminal deeds of the
Babylonian king Nabonidus; as well as how Marduk, the Babylonian god, had
looked for a new king and chosen Cyrus. It continues with the famous: "I
am Cyrus, king of the world, the great king, the powerful king, king of
Babylon, king of Sumer and Akkad, king of the four quarters of the world"
After a description of Cyrus' ancestry and of royal protocol, it goes on to
explain how Cyrus established peace and abolished forced labour: "The
people of Babylon . . . the shameful yoke was removed from them" The
inscription continues by detailing reparative building activities in Babylon as
well as asking for prayers for Cyrus. It makes specific reference to the Jews,
who have been brought to Babylon - and who Cyrus supported in leaving for their
homeland. Further demonstrating his religious tolerance, Cyrus restored the
local cults by allowing the gods to return to their shrines. The cylinder
describes the Great King not as a conqueror, but as a liberator and the legitimate
successor to the crown of Mesopotamia. The same text has also been found, in a
more complete version, in an inscription discovered in the ancient city of Ur,
in Mesopotamia. Both documents corroborate many of the details in Ezra 1:1-5
describing Cyrus supporting the Jews in returning to Judea from captivity to
rebuild the Temple in 537BCE. Isaiah 45:1-13 also backs up the idea of Cyrus as
a benign and chosen ruler. Before the discovery of the cylinder, many sceptical
historians believed that the idea of a Zoroastrian emperor like Cyrus the Great
allowing a conquered people like the Jews to return to their homeland and
rebuild their Temple was simply not credible and could only be Persian
propaganda. Nevertheless, the Cyrus Cylinder, alongside the Biblical and other
historical statements, seems to substantiate the idea that Cyrus not only
allowed many of the nations he conquered to practice their various religious
beliefs - an unprecedented tolerance - but that he even actively isted
captive peoples, including the Jews, to return to their lands of origin. This
support was not only political but even financial - as he gave grants both from
the Imperial treasury and also from his own personal fortune. The Cylinder has
especial resonance for the Iranian peoples and is an integral part of Iran's
cultural heritage and national identity. Antedating the 1789 French Declaration
of the Rights of Man and the Citizen by more than two millennia, it can also be
considered as a world treasure - and the first international declaration of
human rights. The text was translated into all the United Nations' official
languages in 1971.
Cyrus' Legacy

Cyrus the Great is famed as a triumphant conqueror, a superbwarrior, and the founder of the greatest empire the world has ever seen.
However, with the Cyrus Cylinder and a range of Jewish texts, plus extensive
writings by Xenophon, Cyrus is generally more admired as a liberator than a
conqueror. Cyrus the Great was mentioned twenty-two times in the Old Testament,
where he is unconditionally praised. This followed his active liberation of the
Jews from Babylon in 539BCE and his support as more than 40,000 Jews then chose
to return to their homeland. Cyrus then funded the subsequent rebuilding of the
Temple in Jerusalem. Cyrus was also eulogized by many other writers and his
actual or legendary exploits were used as moral instruction or as a source of
inspiration for political philosophies. For example, the Greek author and
soldier Xenophon believed him to be the ideal ruler, and in the Cyropedia -
often considered Xenophon's masterpiece - he offers a fictionalised biography
of the great man. This is more "a treatise on political virtue and social
organisation" than a history. It was influential in ancient times and then
again in the Renaissance. It may have been composed in response to Plato's The
Republic, and Plato's Laws seems to refer back to it. Scipio Africanus is said
to have always carried a copy of the Cyropedia with him. Later on, in the
Renaissance, Spenser, in his The Faerie Queene (1596), says: "For this
cause is Xenophon preferred before Plato, for that the one, in the exquisite
depth of his judgment, formed a Commune wealth, such as it should be; but the
other in the person of Cyrus, and the Persians, fashioned a government, such as
might best be: So much more profitable and gracious is doctrine by ensample,
then by rule." The English philosopher Sir Thomas Browne named his 1658
discourse The Garden of Cyrus after the benevolent ruler. This dense treatise
of hermetic philosophy may be a Royalist criticism upon the autocratic rule of
Cromwell. Cyrus' name and his doctrine is still cited and celebrated into
modern times. On 12th October 1971 Iran marked the 2500th anniversary of Cyrus'
founding of the Persian Empire . The then Shah of Iran, in his speech opening
the celebrations, said: "O Cyrus, great King, King of Kings, Achaemenian
King, King of the land of Iran. I, the Shahanshah of Iran, offer thee
salutations from myself and from my nation. Rest in peace, for we are awake,
and we will always stay awake." In 1994, a replica of a bas relief
depicting Cyrus the Great was erected in a park in Sydney, Australia . This
monument is intended as a symbol for multiculturalism, and to express the
coexistence and peaceful cohabitation of people from different cultures and
By pursuing a policy of generosity, instead of repression,Cyrus demonstrated his Greatness. So successful were his policies of conquest,
mercifulness and imilation that the empire continued to thrive for some 200
years after his death. Cyrus' compionate principles continue to resonate
today: his religious and cultural tolerance and commitment to the liberation of
enslaved peoples remain an aspiration in our troubled modern world.



Comments (10)

Copy paste qashangi zadi ,
He is Greek too, I think... Wink
good job