CYRUS II THE GREAT
- (reigned 559–530 B.C.)Kingof Persia, son and successor of Cambyses I. He was the founder of the Achaemenid empire. Sources for his reign are Herodotus and Ctesias, as well as contemporary Babylonian records, especially the Babylonian Chronicles and his own inscriptions, such as the Cyrus Cylinder.Cyrus began his career by defeating the Median king, Astyages. Having thus gained control over most of Iran, he set out to extend his dominions farther west. He attacked the Lydian capital Sardis, and within five years he had incorporated most of Anatolia into his empire. He then set out to conquer Babylonia. In 539 B.C., Cyrus crossed the Diyala River and took the city of Opis on the Tigris, after he had vanquished the defending Babylonian troops. Soon afterward, Sippar surrendered and Babylon was taken by his commander, Gibryas, on 12 October. Nabonidus, the king of Babylonia, was taken prisoner and deported to Persia (see DEPORTATIONS). Cyrus entered Babylon on 29 October. He declared his son Cambyses II to be “King of Babylon,” while he himself took the traditional Mesopotamian title “King of the Lands.”According to the Old Testament Book of Ezra, Cyrus issued the decree that allowed the deported Jews to return to Palestine and rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. Cyrus made efforts to extend his realm farther east, and it is likely that he controlled most of Afghanistan and South-central Asia. Within 30 years, he had turned a small kingdom into a vast empire. He died, probably on the battlefield, in 530 B.C., while fighting against a Central Asian tribe. His body was taken to Pasargadae, his new royal foundation, and buried in a stone-built tomb. A funerary cult continued there until the end of the Achaemenid empire.
Historical Dictionary of Mesopotamia. EdwART. 2012.
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