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Good Morning.

Cyrus the great, also known as Cyrus the second or the King of Persia, became
one of the worlds greatest pragmatic conquerors and liberators. He built a strong,
successful, multicultural empire that was held intact and expanded upon for well over 200
Cyrus was an inspirational leader and throughout his life led many military
expeditions to defeat and add countries to his expanding empire.
In 550 BC the Median King, who is said by Herodotus to have ruled over Persia,
suspected Cyrus and the Persians of plotting against him. Sources differ on who initiated
the conflict but the Nabonidus Chronicle states that the Median King sent his general,
Harpagus, with his army to deal with Cyrus and the Persians. Harpagus had a pressing
grudge against his King and led the army to defect to Cyrus. This allowed Cyrus and the
Persians to capture the Median King and the city of Ecbatana.
Though many details about Cyrus birth and childhood are questionable Herodotus claims
that the mother of Cyrus was the daughter of the Median King thus establishing Cyrus as
the undisputed, legitimate heir and ruler of Media and Persia. It also discouraged any
The Medes would have noticed only minor changes under Cyrus rule. He maintained a
tolerant and pragmatic style thus adopting the official titles of a Median King and their
local culture. He adapted upon their current administrative system and kept many existing
officials in their appointed positions.
In 546 BC, Croesus (the Lydian King) in an attempt to extend his borders crossed
into Median territory. Croesus had three main motives for attacking Cyrus. He wanted to
extend his countries territory, he believed in the Oracle who told him if he attacked Persia
he would defeat a great empire and he had a desire to punish Cyrus for treatment and
defeat of the Median King.
They fought at Pteria and with an indecisive result Croesus retired to Sardis believing
they would wait and continue fighting after winter had passed, which was the normal
fighting routine. So he dismissed the majority of his troops. Cyrus followed him and
defeated his remaining army in a battle on the plain outside of Sardis. To learn how to
scale the steep sided plateaus Cyrus studied a Lydian guard.
Olmstead states that after a 14 day siege Cyrus captured the city adding Lydia to his
In 538 BC Cyrus decided to capture the wealthy fertile city of Babylon. The
current Babylonian King was intolerant, a foreigner and generally disliked. Cyrus army
defeated them in battle and they retreated, forming a siege inside the city.
Herodotus claims that during the siege Cyrus diverted the river Euphrates, that flowed
into Babylon, until it was low enough for Cyrus and his men to walk into the city. A
national feast day was in progress so using surprise tactics Cyrus took the city while the
Babylonians were distracted, without bloodshed. Babylon was won by combining
diplomacy and guile with military strength.

The Cyrus cylinder, a piece of propaganda about the achievements of Cyrus, claims that
as Marduk commanded Cyrus to take the city he was able to take it without bloodshed or
Cyrus immediately honored the Babylonians and their god, Bel Marduk; he adopted the
title King of Babylon by the hands of Marduk and performed many religiously
symbolic rituals to prove legitimacy.
In an act of tolerance Cyrus issued an edict allowing all captive Jews in Babylon to return
to their homeland to rebuild their Gods temple using the royal treasurys money to fund
it. This has been seen to be the first recorded humanitarian and human rights act.
Between 545 and 539 BC Cyrus conquered and added many smaller states to his
empire such as Bactria, Anatolia, Cilicia, Phoenicia, Parthia, Drangiana, Margiana and
Sogdia. Cyrus was extremely lenient to his enemies and restored and encouraged many
traditional religious and local customs.
Cyrus also conquered the Ionian Greek states. The states were seen as rebellious
when they ignored his summons to fight Lydia with him and when they also fortified
their cities thereby indicating they were expecting and anticipating war. Only Milletus
retained its original legal and political status with special privileges as a reward for
submitting peacefully.
Cyrus made many positive contributions to his empire. His main contribution was
expanding the empire, with the addition of many new countries. Cyrus also strengthened
the empire, implementing many measures that allowed everything to run peacefully.
Cyrus introduced the satrapy system where the empire was divided into
approximately 20 satrapies or small provinces and a personally appointed satrap or
governor with a secretary, chief financier and a military commander ran the city with the
existing administrative officials. He showed pragmatism in keeping existing officials
thereby discouraging rebellions, he also installed a position called the Kings eyes and
ears who watched and reported on the satrap thus allowing any rebellious tendencies to
be caught early. There were no trade restrictions or barriers allowing easy movement of
goods throughout the empire.
He introduced a new form of land tenure where Persian officials were given plots
of Babylonian land in exchange for military service. This encouraged many Persians and
medians to serve in the military but displaced many hereditary Babylonian landholders
causing some hostility toward the Persians.
Cyrus also built a Persian palace complex called Pasargadae, introducing a new
style of architecture using mixtures of many countries building and construction styles.
In conclusion it has been shown how Cyrus positively impacted upon his empire
and made a vast amount of contributions. Thank you