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Cyrus and the establishment of the Persian Empire

Life and Legend of Cyrus

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Darius

Darius the Great

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Darius The Administrator

Xerxes

Xerxes I

Xerxes the Great

Cylinder seal and inscription of Cyrus the Great from Babylon

 I am Cyrus, king of the world, great king, mighty king, king of Babylon, king of the land of Sumer and Akkad, king of the four quarters, son of Cambyses, great king, king of Anshan, grandson of Cyrus, great king, king of Anshan, descendant of Teispes, great king, king of Anshan, progeny of an unending royal line, whose rule Bel and Nabu cherish, whose kingship they desire for their hearts' pleasures.
When I, well-disposed, entered Babylon, I established the seat of government in the royal palace amidst jubilation and rejoicing. Marduk, the great God, caused the big-hearted inhabitants of Babylon to...me. I sought daily to worship him. My numerous troops moved about undisturbed in the midst of Babylon.
I did not allow any to terrorize the land of Sumer and Akkad. I kept in view the needs of Babylon and all its sanctuaries to promote their well being. The citizens of Babylon... I lifted their unbecoming yoke. Their dilapidated dwellings I restored. I put an end to their misfortunes.
At my deeds Marduk, the great Lord, rejoiced, and to me, Cyrus, the king who worshipped, and to Cambyses, my son, the offspring of my loins, and to all my troops, he graciously gave his blessing, and in good spirit is before him we/glorified/exceedingly his high divinity....

 

 

 

Persia

Xerxes

Author:      Grote, George

Persepolis Old Persian KHSHAYARSHA, by name XERXES THE GREAT Persian king (486-465 BC), the son and successor of Darius I. He is best known for his massive invasion of Greece from across the Hellespont (480 BC), a campaign marked by the battles of Thermopylae, Salamis, and Plataea. His ultimate defeat spelled the beginning of the decline of the Achaemenid Empire. Accession to the throne.

Xerxes was the son of Darius I and Atossa, daughter of Cyrus; he was the first son born to Darius after his accession to the throne. Xerxes was designated heir apparent by his father in preference to his elder brother Artabazanes. A bas-relief on the southern portico of a courtyard in the treasury of Persepolis, as well as the bas-reliefs on the east door of the tripylon (an ornamental stairway) depicts him as the heir apparent, standing behind his father, who is seated on the throne. When his father died, in 486 BC, Xerxes was about 35 years old and had already governed Babylonia for a dozen years.

One of his first concerns upon his accession was to pacify Egypt, where a usurper had been governing for two years. But he was forced to use much stronger methods than had Darius: in 484 BC he ravaged the Delta and chastised the Egyptians. Xerxes then learned of the revolt of Babylon, where two nationalist pretenders had appeared in swift succession. The second, Shamash-eriba, was conquered by Xerxes' son-in-law, and violent repression ensued: Babylon's fortresses were torn down, its temples pillaged, and the statue of Marduk destroyed; this latter act had great political significance: Xerxes was no longer able to "take the hand of" (receive the patronage of) the Babylonian god. Whereas Darius had treated Egypt and Babylonia as kingdoms personally united to the Persian Empire (though administered as satrapies), Xerxes acted with a new intransigence. Having rejected the fiction of personal union, he then abandoned the titles of king of Babylonia and king of Egypt, making himself simply "king of the Persians and the Medes.” It was probably the revolt of Babylon, although some authors say it was troubles in Bactria, to which Xerxes alluded in an inscription that proclaimed:  And among these countries (in rebellion) there was one where, previously, daevas had been worshipped. Afterward, through Ahura Mazda's favour, I destroyed this sanctuary of daevas and proclaimed, "Let daevas not be worshipped!" There, where daevas had been worshipped before, I worshipped Ahura Mazda.

Xerxes thus declared himself the adversary of the daevas, the ancient pre-Zoroastrian gods, and doubtlessly identified the Babylonian gods with these fallen gods of the Aryan religion. The questions arise of whether the destruction of Marduk's statue should be linked with this text proclaiming the destruction of the daeva sanctuaries, of whether Xerxes was a more zealous supporter of Zoroastrianism than was his father, and, indeed, of whether he himself was a Zoroastrian. The problem of the relationship between the Achaemenid religion and Zoroastrianism is a difficult one, and some scholars, such as M. Molé, have even thought that this is an improper posing of the question, that there were, rather, three different states of religion: a religion of strict observance, a royal religion as attested by the Achaemenid inscriptions, and the popular religion as described by the Greek historian Herodotus.

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