Cyrus the Great

Cyrus the Great

Born: Between 600 BC and 576 BC in Anshan, Persia
Died: Dec 4, 530 BC (aged between 46 and 70) Along the Syr Darya
Nationality: Persian
Famous For: Founder of the Achaemenid Empire

Cyrus the Great, also popularly known as great Cyrus II of Persia or even Cyrus the great Elder, was the founder of Achaemenid Empire. As the ruler, the empire embraced all previous civilized states of ancient Near East and expanded vastly.

He managed to conquer most of the Southwest Asia and Central Asia to create the biggest empire the world has ever seen. He has also been identified by many scholars as the oldest known declaration of human rights. His reign lasted for about 30 years.

Early Years of Cyrus the Great

Cyrus was son of Median and Persian parents. His father was a descendant of Ashan’s great king Teispes while his mother, Mandane, was the daughter of the last Median king. Cyrus’ real date of birth is not known, but it is either 600 B.C. or 576 B.C. Very little information is written of his childhood years since most sources have been lost or damaged.

Plotting to Kill Young Cyrus

Herodotus claims that Cyrus is said to be the grandson of Astyages, the Median king. He was brought up by a very humble-herding people. Initially, he was presented as a son of apoor family that worked in Median court. After Cyrus was born, Astyages had bad dream that his own grandson would one day overthrow him.

He therefore, ordered Cyrus to be killed. However, Harpagus, who was supposed to kill Cyrus, could not complete this task. He left the baby to die in the mountains. Fortunately, a herdsman and his wife found the baby and raised Cyrus as their own.

When Cyrus the Great turned 10, it was obvious he was not a herdsman’s child because his behaviors were too noble. After a while, Astyages allowed Cyrus to go back to his own biological parents. When he became an adult, Cyrus got married and he and his wife had four children. He also had a fifth child with another woman.

Cyrus the Great as a Leader

In 559 B.C., Cyrus succeeded to throne. He managed to unite the Medians and the Persians. He built his empire by conquering the Median Empire, Lydian Empire, and finally the Neo-Babylonian Empire. Before Babylon, he had managed to lead an expedition into central part of Asian. This resulted in great campaigns. However, Cyrus never ventured into Egypt since he died in the battle.

Cyrus the Great’s Death

It is said that Cyrus the Great met his death in a serious battle with Massagetae. This is a tribe from southern deserts of Kyzyl Kum and Khwarezm. Tomyris, the Massagetae ruler, warned Cyrus not to attack her territory. Cyrus never listened to these warnings.

When Tomyris found out that Cyrus paid no attention to her advice, she organized her forces and gave Cyrus a battle. The two armies stood apart and shot their arrows at each other. After this, they fought with daggers and other weapons, each one choosing not to give up. However, a great part of the Persian army was destroyed and Cyrus the Great fell. Cyrus’ remains were interred in his own capital city, Pasargadae.