Cyrus the Great

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Cyrus the Great (c. 600 BC or 576 BC – December 530 BC), was the first Zoroastrian Persian emperor. He was the founder of the Persian Empire under the Achaemenid dynasty. It was under his own rule that the empire embraced all previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much of Central Asia, from Egypt and the Hellespont in the west to the Indus River in the east, to create the largest empire the world had yet seen. The reign of Cyrus lasted 29 to 31 years. Cyrus built his #### empire by fighting and conquering first the Median Empire, then the Lydian Empire and the Neo-Babylonian Empire. Either before or after Babylon, he led an expedition into central Asia, which resulted in major campaigns that brought "into subjection every nation without exception." Cyrus did not venture into Egypt, as he himself died in battle, fighting the Massagetae along the Syr Darya in December 530 BC Cyrus the Great respected the customs and religions of the lands he conquered. It is said that in universal history, the role of the Achaemenid empire founded by Cyrus lies in its very successful model for centralized administration and establishing a government working to the advantage and profit of its subjects. In fact, the administration of the empire through satraps and the vital principle of forming a government at Pasargadae were the work of Cyrus. Aside from his own nation, Iran, Cyrus also left a lasting legacy on Jewish religion (through his Edict of Restoration), human rights, politics, and military strategy, as well as on both Eastern and Western civilizations. Though his father died in 551 BC, Cyrus had already succeeded to the throne in 559 BC. However, Cyrus was not yet an independent ruler. Like his predecessors, Cyrus had to recognize Median overlordship. During Astyages's reign, the Median Empire may have ruled over the majority of the Ancient Near East, from the Lydian frontier in the west to the Parthians and Persians in the east. While Cyrus seems to have accepted the crown of Media, by 546 BC, he officially assumed the title "King of Persia" instead. With Astyages out of power, all of his vassals (including many of Cyrus's relatives) were now under his command. His uncle Arsames, who had been the king of the city-state of Parsa under the Medes, therefore would have had to give up his throne. However, this transfer of power within the family seems to have been smooth, and it is likely that Arsames was still the nominal governor of Parsa, under Cyrus's authority—more of a Prince or a Grand Duke than a King. Superimposed on modern borders, the Achaemenid Empire under Cyrus's rule extended approximately from Turkey, Israel, Georgia and Arabia in the west to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Indus River and Oman in the east. Persia became the largest empire the world had ever seen. Cyrus engaged in negotiations with the Babylonian generals to obtain a compromise on their part and therefore avoid an armed confrontation. Cyrus's dominions comprised the largest empire the world had ever seen. At the end of Cyrus's rule, the Achaemenid Empire stretched from Asia Minor in the west to the northwestern areas of India in the east. Cyrus' conquests began a new era in the age of empire building, where a vast superstate, comprising many dozens of countries, races, religions, and languages, were ruled under a single administration headed by a central governmen. Cyrus' tomb lies in Pasargadae, Iran, Cyrus' remains were interred in his capital city of Pasargadae, where today a tomb still exists which many believe to be his Cyrus was distinguished equally as a statesman and as a soldier. By pursuing a policy of generosity instead of repression, and by favoring local religions, he was able to make his newly conquered subjects into enthusiastic supporters.[63] Due in part to the political infrastructure he created, the Achaemenid empire endured long after his death. The rise of Persia under Cyrus's rule had a profound impact on the course of world history. Persian philosophy, literature and religion all played dominant roles in world events for the next millennia. Despite the Islamic conquest of Persia in the 7th century CE by the Islamic Caliphate, Persia continued to exercise enormous influence in the Middle East during the Islamic Golden Age, and was particularly instrumental in the growth and expansion of Islam.

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