Cyrus the Great was
born in the Southern branch of the Aryan nation of Persia. The Persians
were ruled by local kings. One of these kings married the daughter of
the Median king Astyages. Their son was named Cyrus (this genealogy
is considered mythological to some). In 550 B.C., Cyrus revolted against
Astyages and his own troops went over to Cyrus. The Median Empire then
became the Persian Empire.
Cyrus got involved in many wars. The first
was with Croesus. He was the King of Lydia, a wealthy state in Western
Asia Minor. Croesus tried to find allies but Cyrus attacked too quickly
. In a winter attack, he took the capital city of Sardis.
Cyrus returned to the East and left Harpagus to finish of the conquest
of the Lydian area. Nabonidus of Babylon had originally favored Cyrus
but border conflicts led to war and in 539 he captured Babylon. Cyrus
posed as both a liberator and a supporter of local gods and once in power
pursued a careful policy of religious toleration. The most important
example of this was when he allowed the Jews to return to their homeland.
Cyrus's right to be called Cyrus the Great can
hardly be questioned. Just the fact that he was the first to conquest
on Mesopotamia and gain control of it marks the first time that a true
Indo-European-speaking people had gained control of the old centers of
civilization. He also made it a precedent among Persians to give
generosity toward anyone that they conquered. Cyrus the Great died
in the year 530 B.C. in a conquest to modern-day Khazakistan. They
were called the Massagetes. Cyrus was buried near Pasargadae.