Macedonia (ancient kingdom)
Macedonia called Macedon, was an ancient kingdom on the periphery of Archaic and Classical Greece, the dominant state of Hellenistic Greece. The kingdom was founded and ruled by the royal Argead dynasty, followed by the Antipatrid and Antigonid dynasties. Home to the ancient Macedonians, the earliest kingdom was centered on the northeastern part of the Greek peninsula, bordered by Epirus to the west, Paeonia to the north, Thrace to the east and Thessaly to the south. Before the 4th century BC, Macedonia was a small kingdom outside of the area dominated by the great city-states of Athens and Thebes, subordinate to Achaemenid Persia. During the reign of the Argead king Philip II, Macedonia subdued mainland Greece and Thrace through conquest and diplomacy. With a reformed army containing phalanxes wielding the sarissa pike, Philip II defeated the old powers of Athens and Thebes in the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC. Philip II's son Alexander the Great, leading a federation of Greek states, accomplished his father's objective of commanding the whole of Greece when he destroyed Thebes after the city revolted.
During Alexander's subsequent campaign of conquest, he overthrew the Achaemenid Empire and conquered territory that stretched as far as the Indus River. For a brief period, his empire was the most powerful in the world – the definitive Hellenistic state, inaugurating the transition to a new period of Ancient Greek civilization. Greek arts and literature flourished in the new conquered lands and advances in philosophy and science spread throughout much of the ancient world. Of particular importance were the contributions of Aristotle, tutor to Alexander, whose writings became a keystone of Western philosophy. After Alexander's death in 323 BC, the ensuing wars of the Diadochi, the partitioning of Alexander's short-lived empire, Macedonia remained a Greek cultural and political center in the Mediterranean region along with Ptolemaic Egypt, the Seleucid Empire, the Kingdom of Pergamon. Important cities such as Pella and Amphipolis were involved in power struggles for control of the territory. New cities were founded, such as Thessalonica by the usurper Cassander.
Macedonia's decline began with the Macedonian Wars and the rise of Rome as the leading Mediterranean power. At the end of the Third Macedonian War in 168 BC, the Macedonian monarchy was abolished and replaced by Roman client states. A short-lived revival of the monarchy during the Fourth Macedonian War in 150–148 BC ended with the establishment of the Roman province of Macedonia; the Macedonian kings, who wielded absolute power and commanded state resources such as gold and silver, facilitated mining operations to mint currency, finance their armies and, by the reign of Philip II, a Macedonian navy. Unlike the other diadochi successor states, the imperial cult fostered by Alexander was never adopted in Macedonia, yet Macedonian rulers assumed roles as high priests of the kingdom and leading patrons of domestic and international cults of the Hellenistic religion; the authority of Macedonian kings was theoretically limited by the institution of the army, while a few municipalities within the Macedonian commonwealth enjoyed a high degree of autonomy and had democratic governments with popular assemblies.
The name Macedonia comes from the ethnonym Μακεδόνες, which itself is derived from the ancient Greek adjective μακεδνός, meaning "tall" descriptive of the people. It has the same root as the adjective μακρός, meaning "long" or "tall" in Ancient Greek; the name is believed to have meant either "highlanders", "the tall ones", or "high grown men". Linguist Robert S. P. Beekes claims that both terms are of Pre-Greek substrate origin and cannot be explained in terms of Indo-European morphology; the Classical Greek historians Herodotus and Thucydides reported the legend that the Macedonian kings of the Argead dynasty were descendants of Temenus, king of Argos, could therefore claim the mythical Heracles as one of their ancestors as well as a direct lineage from Zeus, chief god of the Greek pantheon. Contradictory legends state that either Perdiccas I of Macedon or Caranus of Macedon were the founders of the Argead dynasty, with either five or eight kings before Amyntas I; the assertion that the Argeads descended from Temenus was accepted by the Hellanodikai authorities of the Ancient Olympic Games, permitting Alexander I of Macedon to enter the competitions owing to his perceived Greek heritage.
Little is known about the kingdom before the reign of Alexander I's father Amyntas I of Macedon during the Archaic period. The kingdom of Macedonia was situated along the Haliacmon and Axius rivers in Lower Macedonia, north of Mount Olympus. Historian Robert Malcolm Errington suggests that one of the earliest Argead kings established Aigai as their capital in the mid-7th century BC. Before the 4th century BC, the kingdom covered a region corresponding to the western and central parts of the region of Macedonia in modern Greece, it expanded into the region of Upper Macedonia, inhabited by the Greek Lyncestae and Elimiotae tribes, into regions of Emathia, Bottiaea, Mygdonia and Almopia, which were inhabited by various peoples such as Thracians and Phrygians. Macedonia's non-Greek neighbors included Thracians, inhabiting territories to the northeast, Illyrians to the northwest, Paeonians to the north, while the lands of Thessaly to the south and Epirus to the west were inhabited by Greeks with similar cultures to that of the Macedonians.
A year after Darius I of
Aphrodite is an ancient Greek goddess associated with love, pleasure and procreation. She is identified with the planet Venus, named after the Roman goddess Venus, with whom Aphrodite was extensively syncretized. Aphrodite's major symbols include myrtles, doves and swans; the cult of Aphrodite was derived from that of the Phoenician goddess Astarte, a cognate of the East Semitic goddess Ishtar, whose cult was based on the Sumerian cult of Inanna. Aphrodite's main cult centers were Cythera, Cyprus and Athens, her main festival was the Aphrodisia, celebrated annually in midsummer. In Laconia, Aphrodite was worshipped as a warrior goddess, she was the patron goddess of prostitutes, an association which led early scholars to propose the concept of "sacred prostitution", an idea, now seen as erroneous. In Hesiod's Theogony, Aphrodite is born off the coast of Cythera from the foam produced by Uranus's genitals, which his son Cronus has severed and thrown into the sea. In Homer's Iliad, she is the daughter of Zeus and Dione.
Plato, in his Symposium 180e, asserts that these two origins belong to separate entities: Aphrodite Ourania and Aphrodite Pandemos. Aphrodite had many other epithets, each emphasizing a different aspect of the same goddess, or used by a different local cult, thus she was known as Cytherea and Cypris, due to the fact that both locations claimed to be the place of her birth. In Greek mythology, Aphrodite was married to the god of blacksmiths and metalworking. Despite this, Aphrodite was unfaithful to him and had many lovers. In the First Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, she seduces the mortal shepherd Anchises. Aphrodite was the surrogate mother and lover of the mortal shepherd Adonis, killed by a wild boar. Along with Athena and Hera, Aphrodite was one of the three goddesses whose feud resulted in the beginning of the Trojan War and she plays a major role throughout the Iliad. Aphrodite has been featured in western art as a symbol of female beauty and has appeared in numerous works of western literature.
She is a major deity in modern Neopagan religions, including the Church of Aphrodite and Hellenismos. Hesiod derives Aphrodite from aphrós "sea-foam", interpreting the name as "risen from the foam", but most modern scholars regard this as a spurious folk etymology. Early modern scholars of classical mythology attempted to argue that Aphrodite's name was of Greek or Indo-European origin, but these efforts have now been abandoned. Aphrodite's name is accepted to be of non-Greek Semitic, but its exact derivation cannot be determined. Scholars in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, accepting Hesiod's "foam" etymology as genuine, analyzed the second part of Aphrodite's name as *-odítē "wanderer" or *-dítē "bright". Michael Janda accepting Hesiod's etymology, has argued in favor of the latter of these interpretations and claims the story of a birth from the foam as an Indo-European mytheme. Witczak proposes an Indo-European compound *abʰor- "very" and *dʰei- "to shine" referring to Eos.
Other scholars have argued that these hypotheses are unlikely since Aphrodite's attributes are different from those of both Eos and the Vedic deity Ushas. A number of improbable non-Greek etymologies have been suggested. One Semitic etymology compares Aphrodite to the Assyrian barīrītu, the name of a female demon that appears in Middle Babylonian and Late Babylonian texts. Hammarström looks to Etruscan, comparing prϑni "lord", an Etruscan honorific loaned into Greek as πρύτανις; this would make the theonym in origin an honorific, "the lady". Most scholars reject this etymology as implausible since Aphrodite appears in Etruscan in the borrowed form Apru; the medieval Etymologicum Magnum offers a contrived etymology, deriving Aphrodite from the compound habrodíaitos, "she who lives delicately", from habrós and díaita. The alteration from b to ph is explained as a "familiar" characteristic of Greek "obvious from the Macedonians"; the cult of Aphrodite in Greece was imported from, or at least influenced by, the cult of Astarte in Phoenicia, which, in turn, was influenced by the cult of the Mesopotamian goddess known as "Ishtar" to the East Semitic peoples and as "Inanna" to the Sumerians.
Pausanias states that the first to establish a cult of Aphrodite were the Assyrians, after the Assyrians, the Paphians of Cyprus, the Phoenicians at Ascalon. The Phoenicians, in turn, taught her worship to the people of Cythera. Aphrodite took on Inanna-Ishtar's associations with procreation. Furthermore, she was known as Ourania, which means "heavenly", a title corresponding to Inanna's role as the Queen of Heaven. Early artistic and literary portrayals of Aphrodite are similar on Inanna-Ishtar. Like Inanna-Ishtar, Aphrodite was a warrior goddess, he mentions that Aphrodite's most ancient cult statues in Sparta and on Cythera showed her bearing arms. Modern scholars note that Aphrodite's warrior-goddess aspects appear in the oldest strata of her worship and see it as an indication of her Near Eastern origins. Nineteenth century classical scholars had a general aversion to the idea that ancient Greek religion was at all influenced by the cultures of the Near East, but Friedrich Got
The Odrysian Kingdom was a state union of over 40 Thracian tribes and 22 kingdoms that existed between the 5th century BC and the 1st century AD. It consisted of present-day Bulgaria, spreading to parts of Southeastern Romania, parts of Northern Greece and parts of modern-day European Turkey, it is suggested. Instead, the kings may have moved between residences. A capital was the city of Odryssa. Another royal residence believed to have been constructed by Cotys I is in the village of Starosel, while in 315 BC Seuthopolis was built as a capital. An early capital was Vize; the kingdom broke up and Kabyle was a co-capital by the end of the 4th century BC. The Odrysians were one of the most powerful Thracian tribes that dwelled in the plain of the Hebrus river; this would place the tribe in the modern border area between Southeastern Bulgaria, Northeastern Greece and European Turkey, centered around the city of Edirne. The river Artescus passed through their land as well. Xenophon writes that the Odrysians held horse races and drank large amounts of wine after the burial of their dead warriors.
Thucydides writes on their custom, practised by most Thracians, of giving gifts for getting things done, refuted by Heraclides. Herodotus was the first writer to mention the Odrysae. Thrace had been part of the Persian empire since 516 BC during the rule of Darius the Great, was re-subjugated by Mardonius in 492 BC. During Persian rule, it made part of the Skudra satrapy. Parts were occupied by Scythians and Greek colonists earlier besides the numerous invasions; the Odrysian state was the first Thracian kingdom that acquired power in the region, by the unification of many Thracian tribes under a single ruler, King Teres in the 470s BC after the Persian defeat in Greece. During the reign of Teres or Sitalces the state was at its zenith and extended from the Black Sea to the east, Danube to the north, the region populated with the tribe called Triballi to the north-west, the basin of the river Strymon to the south-west and towards the Aegean - present-day Bulgaria, Romanian Dobruja, Turkish East Thrace and Greek Western Thrace between the Hebrus and the Strymon, except the Aegean and Black seas coasts occupied by Greek cities.
Sovereignty was never exercised over all of its lands. Historian Z. H. Archibald writes: The Odrysians created the first state entity which superseded the tribal system in the east Balkan peninsula, their kings were known to the outside world as kings of Thrace, although their power did not extend by any means to all Thracian tribes. Within the confines of their kingdom the nature of royal power remained fluid, its definition subject to the dictates of geography, social relationships, circumstance This large territory was populated with a number of Thracian and Daco-Moesian tribes that united under the reign of a common ruler, began to implement common internal and external policies; these were favorable conditions for overcoming the tribal divisions, which could lead to the formation of a more stable ethnic community. This was not realised and the period of power of the Odrysian kingdom was brief. Despite the attempts of the Odrysian kings to bolster their central power, the separatist tendencies were strong.
Odrysian military strength was based on intra-tribal elites making the kingdom prone to fragmentation. Some tribes were rioting and tried to separate, while others remained outside the borders of the kingdom. At the end of the 5th and the beginning of the 4th century BC, as a result of conflicts, the Odrysian kingdom split into three parts; the political and military decline continued, while Macedonia was rising as a dangerous and ambitious neighbour. According to the Greek historians Herodotus and Thucydides, a royal dynasty emerged from among the Odrysian tribe in Thrace around the end of the 5th century BC, which came to dominate much of the area and peoples between the Danube and the Aegean for the next century. Writers, royal coin issues, inscriptions indicate the survival of this dynasty into the early 1st century AD, although its overt political influence declined progressively first under Persian, Macedonian Roman, encroachment. Despite their demise, the period of Odrysian rule was of decisive importance for the future character of south-eastern Europe, under the Roman Empire and beyond.
Teres' son, proved to be a good military leader, forcing the tribes that defected the alliance to acknowledge his sovereignty. The rich state that spread from the Danube to the Aegean built roads to develop trade and built a powerful army. In 429 BC, Sitalces allied himself with the Athenians and organized a massive campaign against the Macedonians, with a vast army from independent Thracian and Paeonian tribes. According to Thucydides, it included as many as 150,000 men, but was obliged to retire through the failure of provisions, the coming winter. Greek as a lingua franca had been spoken at least by some members of the royal household in the fifth century and became the language of administrators. After the kingdom had split itself in three semi-independent kingdoms Philip II of Macedon invaded and conquered much of Thrace; some Odrysian kings and other Thracian tribes were submitted and paid taxes at times during different periods to Philip II, Alexander the Great and Philip V. Two of the three kingdoms were forced into vassal status by Philip II in 352 BC, while in 342-341 BC he conquered the Odrysian hear
Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, with its recorded history spanning over 3,400 years and its earliest human presence starting somewhere between the 11th and 7th millennium BC. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state that emerged in conjunction with the seagoing development of the port of Piraeus, a distinct city prior to its 5th century BC incorporation with Athens. A center for the arts and philosophy, home of Plato's Academy and Aristotle's Lyceum, it is referred to as the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy because of its cultural and political impact on the European continent, in particular the Romans. In modern times, Athens is a large cosmopolitan metropolis and central to economic, industrial, maritime and cultural life in Greece. In 2012, Athens was ranked the world's 39th richest city by purchasing power and the 67th most expensive in a UBS study. Athens is a global one of the biggest economic centres in southeastern Europe.
It has a large financial sector, its port Piraeus is both the largest passenger port in Europe, the second largest in the world. While at the same time being the sixth busiest passenger port in Europe; the Municipality of Athens had a population of 664,046 within its administrative limits, a land area of 38.96 km2. The urban area of Athens extends beyond its administrative municipal city limits, with a population of 3,090,508 over an area of 412 km2. According to Eurostat in 2011, the functional urban area of Athens was the 9th most populous FUA in the European Union, with a population of 3.8 million people. Athens is the southernmost capital on the European mainland; the heritage of the classical era is still evident in the city, represented by ancient monuments and works of art, the most famous of all being the Parthenon, considered a key landmark of early Western civilization. The city retains Roman and Byzantine monuments, as well as a smaller number of Ottoman monuments. Athens is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Acropolis of Athens and the medieval Daphni Monastery.
Landmarks of the modern era, dating back to the establishment of Athens as the capital of the independent Greek state in 1834, include the Hellenic Parliament and the so-called "architectural trilogy of Athens", consisting of the National Library of Greece, the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and the Academy of Athens. Athens is home to several museums and cultural institutions, such as the National Archeological Museum, featuring the world's largest collection of ancient Greek antiquities, the Acropolis Museum, the Museum of Cycladic Art, the Benaki Museum and the Byzantine and Christian Museum. Athens was the host city of the first modern-day Olympic Games in 1896, 108 years it welcomed home the 2004 Summer Olympics, making it one of only a handful of cities to have hosted the Olympics more than once. In Ancient Greek, the name of the city was Ἀθῆναι a plural. In earlier Greek, such as Homeric Greek, the name had been current in the singular form though, as Ἀθήνη, it was rendered in the plural on, like those of Θῆβαι and Μυκῆναι.
The root of the word is not of Greek or Indo-European origin, is a remnant of the Pre-Greek substrate of Attica. In antiquity, it was debated whether Athens took its name from its patron goddess Athena or Athena took her name from the city. Modern scholars now agree that the goddess takes her name from the city, because the ending -ene is common in names of locations, but rare for personal names. During the medieval period, the name of the city was rendered once again in the singular as Ἀθήνα. However, after the establishment of the modern Greek state, due to the conservatism of the written language, Ἀθῆναι became again the official name of the city and remained so until the abandonment of Katharevousa in the 1970s, when Ἀθήνα, Athína, became the official name. According to the ancient Athenian founding myth, the goddess of wisdom, competed against Poseidon, the god of the seas, for patronage of the yet-unnamed city. According to the account given by Pseudo-Apollodorus, Poseidon struck the ground with his trident and a salt water spring welled up.
In an alternative version of the myth from Vergil's Georgics, Poseidon instead gave the Athenians the first horse. In both versions, Athena offered the Athenians the first domesticated olive tree. Cecrops declared Athena the patron goddess of Athens. Different etymologies, now rejected, were proposed during the 19th century. Christian Lobeck proposed as the root of the name the word ἄθος or ἄνθος meaning "flower", to denote Athens as the "flowering city". Ludwig von Döderlein proposed the stem of the verb θάω, stem θη- to denote Athens as having fertile soil. In classical literature, the city was sometimes referred to as the City of the Violet Crown, first documented in Pindar's ἰοστέφανοι Ἀθᾶναι, or as τὸ κλεινὸν ἄστυ. In medieval texts, variant names include Setines and Astines, all derivations involving false splitting of p
Troy was a city in the far northwest of the region known in late Classical antiquity as Asia Minor, now known as Anatolia in modern Turkey, just south of the southwest mouth of the Dardanelles strait and northwest of Mount Ida. The present-day location is known as Hisarlik, it was the setting of the Trojan War described in the Greek Epic Cycle, in particular in the Iliad, one of the two epic poems attributed to Homer. Metrical evidence from the Iliad and the Odyssey suggests that the name Ἴλιον began with a digamma: Ϝίλιον. A new capital called, it flourished until the establishment of Constantinople, became a bishopric and declined in the Byzantine era, but is now a Latin Catholic titular see. In 1865, English archaeologist Frank Calvert excavated trial trenches in a field he had bought from a local farmer at Hisarlik, in 1868, Heinrich Schliemann, a wealthy German businessman and archaeologist began excavating in the area after a chance meeting with Calvert in Çanakkale; these excavations revealed several cities built in succession.
Schliemann was at first skeptical about the identification of Hisarlik with Troy, but was persuaded by Calvert and took over Calvert's excavations on the eastern half of the Hisarlik site, on Calvert's property. Troy VII has been identified with the city called Wilusa by the Hittites and is identified with Homeric Troy. Today, the hill at Hisarlik has given its name to a small village near the ruins, which supports the tourist trade visiting the Troia archaeological site, it lies within the province of Çanakkale, some 30 km south-west of the provincial capital called Çanakkale. The nearest village is Tevfikiye; the map here shows the adapted Scamander estuary with Ilium a little way inland across the Homeric plain. Due to Troy's location near the Aegean Sea, the Sea of Marmara, the Black Sea, it was a central hub for the military and trade. Troy was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1998. Ancient Greek historians variously placed the Trojan War in the 12th, 13th, or 14th centuries BC: Eratosthenes to 1184 BC, Herodotus to 1250 BC, Duris of Samos to 1334 BC.
Modern archaeologists associate Homeric Troy with archaeological Troy VII. In the Iliad, the Achaeans set up their camp near the mouth of the River Scamander, where they beached their ships; the city of Troy itself stood on a hill, across the plain of Scamander, where the battles of the Trojan War took place. The site of the ancient city is some 5 km from the coast today, but 3,000 years ago the mouths of Scamander were much closer to the city, discharging into a large bay that formed a natural harbor, which has since been filled with alluvial material. Recent geological findings have permitted the identification of the ancient Trojan coastline, the results confirm the accuracy of the Homeric geography of Troy. In November 2001, the geologist John C. Kraft from the University of Delaware and the classicist John V. Luce from Trinity College, presented the results of investigations, begun in 1977, into the geology of the region, they compared the present geology with the landscapes and coastal features described in the Iliad and other classical sources, notably Strabo's Geographia, concluded that there is a regular consistency between the location of Schliemann's Troy and other locations such as the Greek camp, the geological evidence, descriptions of the topography and accounts of the battle in the Iliad.
Besides the Iliad, there are references to Troy in the other major work attributed to Homer, the Odyssey, as well as in other ancient Greek literature. The Homeric legend of Troy was elaborated by the Roman poet Virgil in his Aeneid; the Greeks and Romans took for a fact the historicity of the Trojan War and the identity of Homeric Troy with the site in Anatolia. Alexander the Great, for example, visited the site in 334 BC and there made sacrifices at tombs associated with the Homeric heroes Achilles and Patroclus. After the 1995 find of a Luwian biconvex seal at Troy VII, there has been a heated discussion over the language, spoken in Homeric Troy. Frank Starke of the University of Tübingen demonstrated that the name of Priam, king of Troy at the time of the Trojan War, is connected to the Luwian compound Priimuua, which means "exceptionally courageous". "The certainty is growing that Wilusa/Troy belonged to the greater Luwian-speaking community," although it is not clear whether Luwian was the official language or in daily colloquial use.
With the rise of critical history and the Trojan War were, for a long time, consigned to the realms of legend. However, the true location of ancient Troy had from classical times remained the subject of interest and speculation; the Troad peninsula was anticipated to be the location. Early modern travellers in the 16th and 17th centuries, including Pierre Belon and Pietro Della Valle, had identified Troy with Alexandria Troas, a ruined town 20 km south of the accepted location. In the late 18th century, Jean Baptiste LeChevalier had identified a location near the village of Pınarbaşı, Ezine as the site of Troy, a mound 5 km south of the accepted location. LeChavalier's location, published in his Voyage de la Troade, was the most accepted theory for a century. In 1822, the Scottis
The Persian Empire refers to any of a series of imperial dynasties that were centred in Persia/Iran from the 6th century BC Achaemenid Empire era to the 20th century AD in the Qajar dynasty era. The first dynasty of the Persian Empire was created by Achaemenids, established by Cyrus the Great in 550 BC with the conquest of Median and Babylonian empires, it covered much of the Ancient world. Persepolis is the most famous historical site related to Persian Empire in the Achaemenid era and it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. From 247 BC to 224 AD, Persia was ruled by the Parthian Empire, which supplanted the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire, by the Sassanian Empire, which ruled up until the mid-7th century; the Persian Empire in the Sasanian era was interrupted by the Arab conquest of Persia in 651 AD, establishing the larger Islamic caliphate, by the Mongol invasion. The main religion of ancient Persia was the native Zoroastrianism, but after the seventh century, it was replaced by Islam which achieved a majority in the 10th century.
The Safavid Empire was the first Persian Empire established after the Arab conquest of Persia by Shah Ismail I. From their base in Ardabil, the Safavid Persians established control over parts of Greater Persia/Iran and reasserted the Persian identity of the region, becoming the first native Persian dynasty since the Sasanian Empire to establish a unified Persian state. Literature and architecture flourished in the Safavid era once again, it is cited as the "rebirth of the Persian Empire". Safavids announced Shia Islam as the official religion in the empire versus the Sunni Islam in the neighbouring Ottoman Empire. Achaemenid Empire Sasanian Empire Safavid dynasty Afsharid dynasty Qajar dynasty List of monarchs of Persia Iranian monarchy List of Iranian dynasties and countries Persia Iranian peoples Persian people List of tombs of Iranian people Briant, Pierre. From Cyrus to Alexander: A History of the Persian Empire. University Park, Pennsylvania: Eisenbrauns. P. 15. ISBN 978-1575060316. DK. History of the World in 1,000 Objects.
London: DK. p. 71. ISBN 978-1465422897. Chisholm, Hugh, ed.. "Persia". Encyclopædia Britannica. Cambridge University Press; the dictionary definition of Persian Empire at Wiktionary Persian Empire travel guide from Wikivoyage Media related to Persian Empire at Wikimedia Commons
Darius the Great
Darius the Great or Darius I was the fourth Persian king of the Achaemenid Empire. He ruled the empire at its peak, when it included much of West Asia, the Caucasus, parts of the Balkans, most of the Black Sea coastal regions, parts of the North Caucasus, Central Asia, as far as the Indus Valley in the far east and portions of north and northeast Africa including Egypt, eastern Libya and coastal Sudan. Darius ascended the throne by a claimed usurper; the new king quelled them each time. A major event in Darius's life was his expedition to punish Athens and Eretria for their aid in the Ionian Revolt and subjugate Greece. Although ending in failure at the Battle of Marathon, Darius succeeded in the re-subjugation of Thrace, expansion of the empire through the conquest of Macedon, the Cyclades and the island of Naxos and the sacking of the city of Eretria. Darius organized the empire by placing satraps to govern it, he organized Achaemenid coinage as a new uniform monetary system, along with making Aramaic the official language of the empire.
He put the empire in better standing by building roads and introducing standard weights and measures. Through these changes, the empire was centralized and unified. Darius worked on construction projects throughout the empire, focusing on Susa, Persepolis and Egypt, he had the cliff-face Behistun Inscription carved to record his conquests, an important testimony of the Old Persian language. Darius is mentioned in the biblical books of Haggai and Ezra–Nehemiah. Dārīus and Dārēus are the Latin forms of the Greek Dareîos, itself from Old Persian Dārayauš, a shortened form of Dārayavaʰuš; the longer form is seen to have been reflected in the Elamite Da-ri-a-ma-u-iš, Babylonian Da-ri-ia-muš, Aramaic drywhwš, the longer Greek form Dareiaîos. The name is a nominative form meaning "he who holds firm the good", which can be seen by the first part dāraya, meaning "holder", the adverb vau, meaning "goodness". At some time between his coronation and his death, Darius left a tri-lingual monumental relief on Mount Behistun, written in Elamite, Old Persian and Babylonian.
The inscription begins with a brief autobiography including his lineage. To aid the presentation of his ancestry, Darius wrote down the sequence of events that occurred after the death of Cyrus the Great. Darius mentions several times that he is the rightful king by the grace of Ahura Mazda, the Zoroastrian god. In addition, further texts and monuments from Persepolis have been found, as well as a clay tablet containing an Old Persian cuneiform of Darius from Gherla, Romania and a letter from Darius to Gadates, preserved in a Greek text of the Roman period. In the foundation tablets of Apadana Palace, Darius described in Old Persian cuneiform the extent of his Empire in broad geographical terms: Darius the great king, king of kings, king of countries, son of Hystaspes, an Achaemenid. King Darius says: This is the kingdom which I hold, from the Sacae who are beyond Sogdia to Kush, from Sind to Lydia - what Ahuramazda, the greatest of gods, bestowed upon me. May Ahuramazda protect me and my royal house!
Herodotus, a Greek historian and author of The Histories, provided an account of many Persian kings and the Greco-Persian Wars. He wrote extensively on Darius, spanning half of Book 3 along with Books 4, 5 and 6, it begins with the removal of the alleged usurper Gaumata and continues to the end of Darius's reign. Darius was the eldest of five sons to Hystaspes and Rhodugune in 550 BCE. Hystaspes was a leading figure of authority in Persia, the homeland of the Persians; the Behistun Inscription of Darius states that his father was satrap of Bactria in 522 BCE. According to Herodotus, Hystaspes was the satrap of Persis, although most historians state that this is an error. According to Herodotus, prior to seizing power and "of no consequence at the time", had served as a spearman in the Egyptian campaign of Cambyses II the Persian Great King. Hystaspes was a noble of his court. Before Cyrus and his army crossed the Aras River to battle with the Armenians, he installed his son Cambyses II as king in case he should not return from battle.
However, once Cyrus had crossed the Aras River, he had a vision in which Darius had wings atop his shoulders and stood upon the confines of Europe and Asia. When Cyrus awoke from the dream, he inferred it as a great danger to the future security of the empire, as it meant that Darius would one day rule the whole world. However, his son Cambyses was the heir to the throne, not Darius, causing Cyrus to wonder if Darius was forming treasonable and ambitious designs; this led Cyrus to order Hystaspes to go back to Persis and watch over his son until Cyrus himself returned. Darius did not seem to have any treasonous thoughts. There are different accounts of the rise of Darius to the throne from both Darius himself and Greek historians; the oldest records report a convoluted sequence of events in which Cambyses II lost his