Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Cyrus, a great Persian conqueror, and first historic hero of Asia. What we know of his life is gained chiefly from Herodotus and Xenophon. But while the former gives us history as nearly as he could ascertain it, the latter treats us to a historical romance. Following, then, mainly the story of Herodotus, we find a character who has been described as a Genghis Khan or Tamerlane of ancient times. Astyages, king of Media, had a daughter, Mandane, who was married to Cambyses, a prince of Persia, which was at that time subject to Media. Before the birth of her son Mandane had some portentous dreams, which seemed to foreshadow some danger which would arise to the state through her offspring. The prudent grandfather condemned the child when born to death, but, as usual in these cases, the victim escaped the snare, and was brought up as a peasant boy by a friendly shepherdess; and, true to his mother's dreams, he roused the wild Persians against the Median power, and dethroned Astyages in 559. But, in fact, Cyrus was of the powerful Persian tribe of Pasargadae, and the renowned family of the Achaemenidae, and in all probability his conquest of Media was the result of a natural and inevitable tribal migration. After conquering Media, he proceeded further to take Mesopotamia and carry war into Babylonia. He was attacked by Croesus, the wealthy king of Lydia, with disastrous consequences to that king, who succumbed to the young conqueror. Next Cyrus conquered Assyria, and, advancing upon Babylon, forced an entry into the city by turning the stream of the Euphrates (538 B.C.). His generals had, meantime, subdued Asia Minor, including the Greek cities, and had possession of Syria, Phoenicia, Palestine, and part of Arabia, so that the sway of Cyrus extended from the Indus to the AEgean Sea and from the Caspian and Black Seas to the Arabian Gulf. He was preparing for the conquest of Egypt when he fell in an expedition against the Scythian tribe of Massagetae, and Queen Tomyris is said to have thrown his severed head into a bag of blood that he might sate his thirst for that liquid. Cyrus had some claim to the title of civiliser, for he divided his dominion into 120 satrapies, or minor governments, established couriers on all the public roads, and was a protector of agriculture. An incidental consequence of his conquest of Babylon was the freeing of Jewish captives and the permitting them to return to Jerusalem.