The New Student's Reference Work/Cyrus the Great


Cy′rus the Great, founder of the Persian empire, is first known to us from the record on the cuneiform, clay tablet-and-cylinder, which recounts his reign, his conquest and capture of Astyages, king of Media, in 549 B. C.  At this time Cyrus was called king of Elam.  Year after year was idly spent by Nabonidas, king of Babylonia, at Terma, a suburb of the capital, Babylon, while his son—doubtless Belshazzar—was with his army in Akkad (northern Babylonia).  In 538 Cyrus, favored by a revolt of the tribes on the Persian Gulf, advanced on Babylon from the southeast, and, after giving battle to the army of Akkad, took Sippona and lastly Babylon “without fighting.”  Cyrus at once originated a friendly policy in religion.  The nations who had been carped captive to Babylon, along with the Jews, were restored to their countries and allowed to take their gods with them.  The empire of Crœsus in Lydia had been taken two years before; and Cyrus was now master of all Asia from the Mediterranean to the Hindu-Kush.  The conqueror’s hold over Asia Minor and Syria was much strengthened by his friendly relations with the Phœnicians and the Jews, who received the news of his triumphs with joy.  After the great king had widened his dominions from the Arabian Desert and the Persian Gulf to the Black Sea, Caucasus and Caspian, he died in 529 B. C.  Cyrus ranks high among Asiatic conquerors.  He was a wise ruler, whose aim was to soften by kindness the harsh rule which his sword was constantly extending.