Darius I of Persia

Darius I of Persia

Overview
Darius I (550 – 486 BCE), also known as Darius the Great, was the third king of kings of the Achaemenid Empire. Darius held the empire at its peak, then including Egypt
History of Achaemenid Egypt
The history of Achaemenid Egypt is divided into two eras: an initial period of Achaemenid Persian occupation when Egypt became a satrapy, followed by an interval of independence; and a second period of occupation, again under the Achaemenids....

 (Mudrâya), Balochistan
Balochistan
Balochistan or Baluchistan is a region which covers parts of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan. It can also refer to one of several modern and historical territories within that region:...

, Kurdistan and parts of Greece
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

.

Darius ascended the throne by overthrowing the alleged magus usurper of Bardiya
Bardiya
Bardiya was a son of Cyrus the Great and the younger brother of Cambyses II, both Persian kings. There are sharply divided views on his life, he may have ruled the Achaemenid Empire for a few months in 522 BCE, or he may have been impersonated by a magus called Gaumata. -Name and sources:The...

 with the assistance of six other Persian noble families; Darius was crowned
Coronation
A coronation is a ceremony marking the formal investiture of a monarch and/or their consort with regal power, usually involving the placement of a crown upon their head and the presentation of other items of regalia...

 the following morning.
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Encyclopedia
Darius I (550 – 486 BCE), also known as Darius the Great, was the third king of kings of the Achaemenid Empire. Darius held the empire at its peak, then including Egypt
History of Achaemenid Egypt
The history of Achaemenid Egypt is divided into two eras: an initial period of Achaemenid Persian occupation when Egypt became a satrapy, followed by an interval of independence; and a second period of occupation, again under the Achaemenids....

 (Mudrâya), Balochistan
Balochistan
Balochistan or Baluchistan is a region which covers parts of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan. It can also refer to one of several modern and historical territories within that region:...

, Kurdistan and parts of Greece
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

.

Darius ascended the throne by overthrowing the alleged magus usurper of Bardiya
Bardiya
Bardiya was a son of Cyrus the Great and the younger brother of Cambyses II, both Persian kings. There are sharply divided views on his life, he may have ruled the Achaemenid Empire for a few months in 522 BCE, or he may have been impersonated by a magus called Gaumata. -Name and sources:The...

 with the assistance of six other Persian noble families; Darius was crowned
Coronation
A coronation is a ceremony marking the formal investiture of a monarch and/or their consort with regal power, usually involving the placement of a crown upon their head and the presentation of other items of regalia...

 the following morning. The new emperor met with rebellions throughout his kingdom and quelled them each time. A major event in Darius's life was his expedition to punish Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 and Eretria
Eretria
Erétria was a polis in Ancient Greece, located on the western coast of the island of Euboea, south of Chalcis, facing the coast of Attica across the narrow Euboean Gulf. Eretria was an important Greek polis in the 6th/5th century BC. However, it lost its importance already in antiquity...

 for their aid in the Ionian Revolt
Ionian Revolt
The Ionian Revolt, and associated revolts in Aeolis, Doris, Cyprus and Caria, were military rebellions by several regions of Asia Minor against Persian rule, lasting from 499 BC to 493 BC...

 and subjugate Greece
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

. Darius expanded his empire by conquering Thrace
Thrace
Thrace is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe. As a geographical concept, Thrace designates a region bounded by the Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean Sea on the south, and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on the east...

 and Macedon and invading Scythia
Scythia
In antiquity, Scythian or Scyths were terms used by the Greeks to refer to certain Iranian groups of horse-riding nomadic pastoralists who dwelt on the Pontic-Caspian steppe...

, home of the Scythians, Iranian tribes who had invaded Media
Medes
The MedesThe Medes...

 and had previously killed Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

.

Darius organized the empire by dividing it into provinces and placing satrap
Satrap
Satrap was the name given to the governors of the provinces of the ancient Median and Achaemenid Empires and in several of their successors, such as the Sassanid Empire and the Hellenistic empires....

s to govern it. He organized a new uniform monetary system, along with making Aramaic
Aramaic language
Aramaic is a group of languages belonging to the Afroasiatic language phylum. The name of the language is based on the name of Aram, an ancient region in central Syria. Within this family, Aramaic belongs to the Semitic family, and more specifically, is a part of the Northwest Semitic subfamily,...

 the official language of the empire. Darius also worked on construction projects throughout the empire, focusing on Susa
Susa
Susa was an ancient city of the Elamite, Persian and Parthian empires of Iran. It is located in the lower Zagros Mountains about east of the Tigris River, between the Karkheh and Dez Rivers....

, Pasargadae
Pasargadae
Pasargadae , the capital of Cyrus the Great and also his last resting place, was a city in ancient Persia, and is today an archaeological site and one of Iran's UNESCO World Heritage Sites.-History:...

, Persepolis
Persepolis
Perspolis was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire . Persepolis is situated northeast of the modern city of Shiraz in the Fars Province of modern Iran. In contemporary Persian, the site is known as Takht-e Jamshid...

, Babylon
Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

 and Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

. Darius devised a codification of laws for Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

. He also had the cliff-face Behistun Inscription
Behistun Inscription
The Behistun Inscription The Behistun Inscription The Behistun Inscription (also Bistun or Bisutun, Modern Persian: بیستون The Behistun Inscription (also Bistun or Bisutun, Modern Persian: بیستون...

 carved, an autobiography of great modern linguistic
Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

 significance. Darius also started many massive architectural projects
Achaemenid architecture
Achaemenid Persian architecture refers to the architectural achievements of the Achaemenid Persians manifesting in construction of spectacular cities used for governance and inhabitation , temples made for worship and social gatherings , and mausoleums erected in honor of fallen kings...

, including magnificent palaces in Persepolis
Persepolis
Perspolis was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire . Persepolis is situated northeast of the modern city of Shiraz in the Fars Province of modern Iran. In contemporary Persian, the site is known as Takht-e Jamshid...

 and Susa
Susa
Susa was an ancient city of the Elamite, Persian and Parthian empires of Iran. It is located in the lower Zagros Mountains about east of the Tigris River, between the Karkheh and Dez Rivers....

.

Etymology


Dārīus (or Dārēus) is the latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 form of the Greek Dareîos, which is a shortened form of the Old Persian Dārayavauš. The Old Persian form is also seen to have been reflected in the Elamite
Elamite language
Elamite is an extinct language spoken by the ancient Elamites. Elamite was the primary language in present day Iran from 2800–550 BCE. The last written records in Elamite appear about the time of the conquest of the Persian Empire by Alexander the Great....

 Da-ri-(y)a-ma-u-iš, Babylonian
Akkadian language
Akkadian is an extinct Semitic language that was spoken in ancient Mesopotamia. The earliest attested Semitic language, it used the cuneiform writing system derived ultimately from ancient Sumerian, an unrelated language isolate...

Da-(a-)ri-ia-(a-)muš, Aramaic language
Aramaic language
Aramaic is a group of languages belonging to the Afroasiatic language phylum. The name of the language is based on the name of Aram, an ancient region in central Syria. Within this family, Aramaic belongs to the Semitic family, and more specifically, is a part of the Northwest Semitic subfamily,...

 dryhwš and archaizing drywhwš, and possibly the longer Greek form Dareiaîos. The translation of his name from Old Persian to English is "holding firm the good", which can be seen by the stem dāraya, meaning "hold", and the adjective vau, meaning "good".

Primary sources



Darius left a tri-lingual monumental relief on Mount Behistun
Mount Behistun
Mount Bisotoun is a mountain in the Kermanshah Province is located in the middle of the western part of Iran. It is located from Tehran.It is well known for its rock relief in which the great Achaemenian King, Darius the Great, had the narrative of his exploits engraved around B.C...

 which was written in Elamite, Old Persian and Babylonian between his coronation and his death. The inscription begins with a brief autobiography with his ancestry and lineage. To aid the presentation of his ancestry, Darius wrote down the sequence of events which occurred after the death of Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

. Darius mentions several times that he is the rightful emperor by the grace of Ahura Mazda
Ahura Mazda
Ahura Mazdā is the Avestan name for a divinity of the Old Iranian religion who was proclaimed the uncreated God by Zoroaster, the founder of Zoroastrianism...

, the Zoroastrian God. In addition, further texts and monuments from Persepolis have been found, including a fragmentary Old Iranian inscription from Gherla, Rumania (Harmatta) and a letter from Darius to Gadates, preserved in a Greek text of the Roman period.

Herodotus, a Greek historian and author of The Histories
Histories (Herodotus)
The Histories of Herodotus is considered one of the seminal works of history in Western literature. Written from the 450s to the 420s BC in the Ionic dialect of classical Greek, The Histories serves as a record of the ancient traditions, politics, geography, and clashes of various cultures that...

, provided an account of many Persian emperors and the Greco-Persian Wars
Greco-Persian Wars
The Greco-Persian Wars were a series of conflicts between the Achaemenid Empire of Persia and city-states of the Hellenic world that started in 499 BC and lasted until 449 BC. The collision between the fractious political world of the Greeks and the enormous empire of the Persians began when Cyrus...

. He wrote an extensive amount of information on Darius which spans 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.

The Book of Ezra
Book of Ezra
The Book of Ezra is a book of the Hebrew Bible. Originally combined with the Book of Nehemiah in a single book of Ezra-Nehemiah, the two became separated in the early centuries of the Christian era...

 (chapter 6, verse 1) describes the adoption and precise instructions to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. It was completed and inaugurated of the sixth year of Darius (March 515 BCE), as also related in the Book of Ezra (chapter 6, verse 15), so the 70-year prophecy of Jeremiah was fulfilled. Between Cyrus and Darius, an exchange of letters with King Ahasuerus and Artaxerxes is described (chapter 4, verse 7), the grandson of Darius I, in whose reign Ezra and Nehemiah came to Jerusalem. The generous funding of the temple gave Darius and his successors the support of the Jewish priesthood. There is mention of a Darius in the Book of Daniel
Book of Daniel
The Book of Daniel is a book in the Hebrew Bible. The book tells of how Daniel, and his Judean companions, were inducted into Babylon during Jewish exile, and how their positions elevated in the court of Nebuchadnezzar. The court tales span events that occur during the reigns of Nebuchadnezzar,...

, identified as Darius the Mede. He began ruling when he was 62 years old (chapter 5, verse 31), appointed 120 satrap
Satrap
Satrap was the name given to the governors of the provinces of the ancient Median and Achaemenid Empires and in several of their successors, such as the Sassanid Empire and the Hellenistic empires....

s to govern over their provinces or districts (chapter 6, verse 1), was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans (chapter 9, verse 1), and predated Cyrus (chapter 11, verse 1). Therefore, many scholars identify him with Cyaxares II
Cyaxares II
Cyaxares II was said to be a king of the Medes whose reign is described by the Greek historian Xenophon. Some theories have equated this figure with the "Darius the Mede" named in the Book of Daniel...

 rather than Darius I of Persia.

Early life


Darius was born as the eldest of five sons to Hystaspes
Hystaspes (father of Darius I)
Vishtaspa , known under his Hellenized name Hystaspes , was a Persian satrap of Bactria and Persis, and the father of Darius I of Persia....

 and Rhodugune in 550 BCE. Hystaspes was a leading figure of authority in Persia, which was the homeland of the Persians. Darius' inscription
Behistun Inscription
The Behistun Inscription The Behistun Inscription The Behistun Inscription (also Bistun or Bisutun, Modern Persian: بیستون The Behistun Inscription (also Bistun or Bisutun, Modern Persian: بیستون...

 states that his father was satrap
Satrap
Satrap was the name given to the governors of the provinces of the ancient Median and Achaemenid Empires and in several of their successors, such as the Sassanid Empire and the Hellenistic empires....

 of Bactria
Bactria
Bactria and also appears in the Zend Avesta as Bukhdi. It is the ancient name of a historical region located between south of the Amu Darya and west of the Indus River...

 in 522 BCE. According to Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

, Hystaspes was the satrap of Persis, although most historians state that this is an error. Also according to Herodotus (III.139), Darius, prior to seizing power and "of no consequence at the time", had served as a spearman (doryphoros) in the Egyptian campaign (528–525 BCE) of Cambyses II, then the Persian emperor. Hystaspes was an officer in Cyrus
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

' army and a noble of his court.

Before Cyrus and his army crossed the Aras River to battle with northern tribes, he installed his son Cambyses II as emperor in case he should not return from battle. However, once Cyrus had crossed the Aras River he had a dream with a vision of Darius in which he had wings atop his shoulders and stood upon the confines of Europe and Asia (the whole known world). 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 strictly, until Cyrus himself returned. Darius did not seem to have any treasonous thoughts as Cambyses II ascended the throne peacefully, and through promotion Darius was eventually elevated to Cambyses' personal lancer
Lancer
A lancer was a type of cavalryman who fought with a lance. Lances were used in mounted warfare by the Assyrians as early as and subsequently by Greek, Persian, Gallic, Han-Chinese, nomadic and Roman horsemen...

.

Ascension


The rise of Darius to the throne contains two variations, an account from Darius and another other from Greek historians. Some modern historians have inferred that Darius' rise to power might have been illegitimate. To them, it seems likely that Gaumata was in fact Bardiya, and that under cover of revolts, Darius killed the heir to the throne and took it himself.

Darius' account, written at the Behistun Inscription states that Cambyses II killed his own brother Bardiya
Bardiya
Bardiya was a son of Cyrus the Great and the younger brother of Cambyses II, both Persian kings. There are sharply divided views on his life, he may have ruled the Achaemenid Empire for a few months in 522 BCE, or he may have been impersonated by a magus called Gaumata. -Name and sources:The...

, but that this murder was not known among the Iranian people. A would-be usurper
Usurper
Usurper is a derogatory term used to describe either an illegitimate or controversial claimant to the power; often, but not always in a monarchy, or a person who succeeds in establishing himself as a monarch without inheriting the throne, or any other person exercising authority unconstitutionally...

 named Gaumata came and lied to the people, stating he was Bardiya. The Iranians had grown rebellious against Cambyses' rule and on 11 March 522 BCE a revolt against Cambyses broke out in his absence. On 1 July, the Iranian people chose to be under the leadership of Gaumata, as "Bardiya". No member of the Achamenid family would rise against Gaumata for the safety of their own life. Darius, who had served Cambyses as his lance-bearer until the deposed ruler's death, prayed for aid and in September 522 BCE, along with Otanes, Intraphrenes, Gobryas, Hydarnes
Hydarnes
Hydarnes was an eminent Persian, the commander of the "Ten Thousand Immortals" during the time of king Xerxes invasion of Greece.Perhaps the most famous episode involving Satrap Hydarnes and his Immortals came at the Thermopylae in 480 BC, when they came into contact with Leonidas of...

, Megabyxus and Aspathines
Aspathines
Aspathines or Aspačanā was a senior official under Darius the Great and Xerxes I of Persia. The name means “delighting in horses”....

, killed Gaumata in the fortress of Sikayauvati.

Several days after Gaumata had been assassinated, Darius and the other seven nobles discussed the fate of the empire. At first, the seven discussed the form of government; a democratic republic was strongly pushed by Otanes, a oligarchy was pushed by Megazybus, while Darius pushed for a monarchy. After stating that a republic would lead to corruption and internal fighting, while a monarchy would be led with a single-mindedness, not possible in other governments, Darius was able to convince the other nobles that a monarchy was the correct form of government. To decide who would become the monarch, the six nobles (Otanes stated that he had no interest in becoming emperor) decided on a test. All six nobles would gather outside mounted on their horses at sunrise, and the nobles' horse which neighed first would become emperor. According to Herodotus, Darius had a slave, Oebares who helped Darius win this contest. Before the contest, Oebares rubbed his hand over the genitals of mare that Darius' horse had a fondness for. When the six nobles gathered outside, Oebares placed his hands beside the nostrils of Darius' horse, who became excited at the smell and neighed. Immediately after, lightning and thunder occurred leading the other six noblemen to believe to be an act of God
Act of God
Act of God is a legal term for events outside of human control, such as sudden floods or other natural disasters, for which no one can be held responsible.- Contract law :...

, causing them to dismount and kneel before Darius. Darius did not believe that he had achieved the throne through fraud but through brilliant sagacity, even erecting a statue of himself mounted on his neighing horse stating "Darius, son of Hystaspes, obtained the sovereignty of Persia by the sagacity of his horse and the ingenious contrivance of Oebases, his groom."

According to the accounts of Greek historians, Cambyses II had left Patizeithes in charge of the kingdom when he headed for Egypt. He later sent Prexaspes to murder Bardiya. After the killing, Patizeithes put his brother Gaumata, a Magian who resembled Bardiya, on the throne and declared him the emperor. Otanes discovered that Gaumata was an impostor, and along with six other Iranian nobles including Darius, created a plan to oust the pseudo-Bardiya. After killing the impostor along with his brother Patizeithes and other Magians, Darius was crowned king the following morning.

Early reign


Following his coronation at Pasargadae
Pasargadae
Pasargadae , the capital of Cyrus the Great and also his last resting place, was a city in ancient Persia, and is today an archaeological site and one of Iran's UNESCO World Heritage Sites.-History:...

, Darius moved to Ecbatana. He soon learned that support for Bardiya was strong, and revolts in Elam
Elam
Elam was an ancient civilization located in what is now southwest Iran. Elam was centered in the far west and the southwest of modern-day Iran, stretching from the lowlands of Khuzestan and Ilam Province, as well as a small part of southern Iraq...

 and Babylonia
Babylonia
Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia , with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as a major power when Hammurabi Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as...

 had broken out. Darius ended the Elamite revolt when the revolutionary leader Aschina was captured and executed in Susa
Susa
Susa was an ancient city of the Elamite, Persian and Parthian empires of Iran. It is located in the lower Zagros Mountains about east of the Tigris River, between the Karkheh and Dez Rivers....

, after three months the revolt in Babylonia had ended. While in Babylonia, Darius learned a revolution had broken out in Bactria
Bactria
Bactria and also appears in the Zend Avesta as Bukhdi. It is the ancient name of a historical region located between south of the Amu Darya and west of the Indus River...

, a satrapy which had always been in favour of Darius, and had initially volunteered an army of soldiers to quell revolts. Following this, revolts broke out in Persis, the homeland of the Persians and Darius. These new revolts led to a renewed revolt in Elam and Babylonia. With all these ongoing revolts, revolts broke out in Media, Parthia
Parthia
Parthia is a region of north-eastern Iran, best known for having been the political and cultural base of the Arsacid dynasty, rulers of the Parthian Empire....

, Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

, and Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

. By 522 BCE, the majority, if not the entire Achaemenid Empire
Achaemenid Empire
The Achaemenid Empire , sometimes known as First Persian Empire and/or Persian Empire, was founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great who overthrew the Median confederation...

 was revolting against Darius and in turmoil. Even though Darius did not have the support of the populace
Populace
A populace is a group of people forming the total population of a certain place. It is taken from the Latin word populus, which means "people", but also in the sense of a race, nationality, or locality. This can be compared with the Spanish word pueblo, which derives from the same Latin...

, Darius had a loyal army, led by close confidants and nobles (including the six nobles with whom he removed Gaumata) with whom he was able to suppress and quell all revolts within a year. In Darius' words, he had killed a total of eight "lying kings" through the quelling of revolutions. Darius left a detailed account of these revolutions at the Behistun Inscription
Behistun Inscription
The Behistun Inscription The Behistun Inscription The Behistun Inscription (also Bistun or Bisutun, Modern Persian: بیستون The Behistun Inscription (also Bistun or Bisutun, Modern Persian: بیستون...

.

One of the first acts of Darius' reign was the slaying of Intaphernes. Intaphernes was one of the seven noblemen who had deposed of the previous ruler, and installed Darius as the new monarch. The seven had made an agreement that they could all visit the new king whenever they pleased, except when he was with his wife. One evening, Intaphernes went to the palace to meet Darius, but was stopped by two officers who stated that Darius had retired for the night. Becoming enraged and insulted, Intaphernes drew his sword and cut off the ears and noses of the two officers. While leaving the palace, he took the bridle
Bridle
A bridle is a piece of equipment used to direct a horse. As defined in the Oxford English Dictionary, the "bridle" includes both the headstall that holds a bit that goes in the mouth of a horse, and the reins that are attached to the bit....

 from his horse, and tied the two officers together. The officers went to the king and showed him what Intaphernes had done to them. Darius began to fear for his own safety, he thought that all seven noblemen had combined together to rebel against him, and that the attack against his officers was the first outbreak. He sent a messenger to each of the noblemen, asking them if they approved of Intaphernes' actions, to which they denied and disavowed any connection to Intaphernes' actions, stating they stood by their decision to appoint Darius as emperor.

Taking precautions against further resistance, Darius sent soldiers to seize Intaphernes, along with his son, family members, relatives and friends who were capable of arming themselves. Darius believed that Intaphernes was planning a rebellion, but when he was brought to the court, there was no proof of any planning. Nonetheless, Darius killed Intaphernes' entire family, excluding his wife's brother and son. She was made to choose between her brother and son. She chose her brother to live. Her reasoning for doing so was that she can have another husband and son, but she will always have one brother. Darius was impressed by her response and spared her brother's life along with her son's life.

Military campaigns


After securing his authority over the entire empire
Achaemenid Empire
The Achaemenid Empire , sometimes known as First Persian Empire and/or Persian Empire, was founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great who overthrew the Median confederation...

, Darius embarked on a campaign to Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

 where he defeated the armies of the Pharaoh and secured the lands that Cambyses had conquered while incorporating a large portion of Egypt into the Achaemenid Empire
History of Achaemenid Egypt
The history of Achaemenid Egypt is divided into two eras: an initial period of Achaemenid Persian occupation when Egypt became a satrapy, followed by an interval of independence; and a second period of occupation, again under the Achaemenids....

. Darius also led his armies to the Indus River
Indus River
The Indus River is a major river which flows through Pakistan. It also has courses through China and India.Originating in the Tibetan plateau of western China in the vicinity of Lake Mansarovar in Tibet Autonomous Region, the river runs a course through the Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir and...

, building fortresses and establishing Persian rule.

Babylonian revolt



After Bardiya
Bardiya
Bardiya was a son of Cyrus the Great and the younger brother of Cambyses II, both Persian kings. There are sharply divided views on his life, he may have ruled the Achaemenid Empire for a few months in 522 BCE, or he may have been impersonated by a magus called Gaumata. -Name and sources:The...

 was murdered, widespread revolts occurred throughout the empire
Achaemenid Empire
The Achaemenid Empire , sometimes known as First Persian Empire and/or Persian Empire, was founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great who overthrew the Median confederation...

, especially on the eastern side. Darius asserted his position as emperor by force, taking his armies throughout the empire, suppressing each revolt individually. The most notable of all the revolts is the Babylonian revolt which was led by Nebuchadnezzar III
Nebuchadnezzar III
Nebuchadnezzar III was a ruler of Babylon.He led a short lived rebellion against Darius I of Persia.His exact identity is uncertain...

. This revolt occurred when Otanes withdrew much of the army out of Babylon
Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

 to aid Darius in suppressing other revolts. Darius felt that the Babylonian people had taken advantage of him and deceived him, which resulted in Darius gathering up a large army and marching to Babylon
Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

. At Babylon, Darius was met with closed gates and a series of defenses to keep him and his armies out of Babylon. Darius encountered mockery and taunting from the rebels, including the famous saying "Oh yes, you will capture our city, when mules shall have foals." For a year and a half, Darius and his armies were unable to capture Babylon, though he attempted many tricks and strategies—even copying that which Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

 had employed when he captured Babylon. However, the situation changed in Darius's favor when, according to the story, a mule owned by Zopyrus
Zopyrus
Zopyrus was a Persian nobleman mentioned in Herodotus' Histories.He was son of Megabyzus, who helped Darius I in his ascension. When Babylon revolted against the rule of Darius I, Zopyrus devised a plan to regain control of the vital city. By cutting off his own nose and ears, and then having...

, a high-ranking soldier, foaled. Following this, a plan was hatched for Zopyrus
Zopyrus
Zopyrus was a Persian nobleman mentioned in Herodotus' Histories.He was son of Megabyzus, who helped Darius I in his ascension. When Babylon revolted against the rule of Darius I, Zopyrus devised a plan to regain control of the vital city. By cutting off his own nose and ears, and then having...

 to pretend to be a deserter, enter the Babylonian camp, and gain the trust of the Babylonians. The plan was successful, and Darius' army eventually surrounded the city and overcame the rebels.

During this revolt, Scythian nomads took advantage of the disorder and chaos and invaded Persia. Darius first finished defeating the rebels in Elam, Assyria, and Babylon and then attacked the Scythian invaders. He pursued the invaders, who led him to a marsh; there he found no known enemies but an enigmatic Scythian tribe distinguished by their large pointy hats.

Persian invasion of Scythia


The Scythians were a group of north Iranian nomadic tribes, speaking a Indo-Iranian language who had invaded Media, killed Cyrus
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

 in battle, revolted against Darius and threatened to disrupt trade between Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

 and the shores of the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

 as they lived between the Danube
Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

 river, river Don and the Black Sea.

Darius crossed the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

 at the Bosphorus Straits using a bridge of boats. Darius conquered large portions of Eastern Europe - even crossing the Danube to wage war on the Scythians. Darius invaded Scythia
Scythia
In antiquity, Scythian or Scyths were terms used by the Greeks to refer to certain Iranian groups of horse-riding nomadic pastoralists who dwelt on the Pontic-Caspian steppe...

, where the Scythians evaded Darius' army, using feints and retreating technique eastward while wasting the countryside, by blocking wells, intercepting convoys, destroying pastures and continuous skirmishes against Darius' army. Seeking to fight with the Scythians, Darius' army chased the Scythian army deep into Scythian lands, where there were no cities to conquer and no supplies to forage. In frustration Darius sent a letter to the Scythian ruler Idanthyrsus
Idanthyrsus
Idanthyrsus is the name of two Scythian kings:1.The first one led Scythians, under whom, according to Strabo, they overran Asia, and advanced as far as Egypt. This was perhaps the incursion mentioned by Herodotus, who tells us that they held Asia for 28 years, and were ultimately driven out by...

 to fight or surrender. The ruler replied that he would not stand and fight with Darius until they found the graves of their fathers and tried to destroy them - until then, they could continue their current technique as they had no cities or cultivated lands to lose. Darius ordered a halt at the banks of Oarus, where he built eight frontier fortresses spaced at intervals of eight miles. After chasing the Scythians for a month, Darius' army was suffering losses due to fatigue, privation and sickness. In fear of losing more troops, he halted the march at the banks of the Volga River
Volga River
The Volga is the largest river in Europe in terms of length, discharge, and watershed. It flows through central Russia, and is widely viewed as the national river of Russia. Out of the twenty largest cities of Russia, eleven, including the capital Moscow, are situated in the Volga's drainage...

 and headed towards Thrace
Thrace
Thrace is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe. As a geographical concept, Thrace designates a region bounded by the Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean Sea on the south, and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on the east...

. He had conquered enough territory of Scythia to force the Scythians to respect the Persian forces.

Persian invasion of Greece




Darius's European expedition was a major event in his reign, which began with the invasion of Thrace
Thrace
Thrace is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe. As a geographical concept, Thrace designates a region bounded by the Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean Sea on the south, and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on the east...

, after which he left Megabyzus to conquer Thrace, returning to Sardis
Sardis
Sardis or Sardes was an ancient city at the location of modern Sart in Turkey's Manisa Province...

 to spend the winter. Before returning Darius also conquered many cities of the northern Aegean
Aegean
Aegean may refer to:*Aegean Sea*Aegean Islands*Aegean Region, Turkey*Aegean civilization*Tyrsenian languages, aka Aegean languages*Aegean Sea , a naval theme of the Byzantine Empire*Aegean Airlines...

, while Macedonia submitted voluntarily. The Asiatic Greeks and Greek islands had submitted to Persian rule by 510 BCE. Nonetheless, there were certain Greeks who were pro-Persian, such as the medizing Greeks, which were largely grouped at Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

. This improved Greek-Persian relations as Darius opened his court and treasuries to the Greeks who wanted to serve him. These Greeks served as soldier
Soldier
A soldier is a member of the land component of national armed forces; whereas a soldier hired for service in a foreign army would be termed a mercenary...

s, artisan
Artisan
An artisan is a skilled manual worker who makes items that may be functional or strictly decorative, including furniture, clothing, jewellery, household items, and tools...

s, statesmen
Statesman
A statesman is usually a politician or other notable public figure who has had a long and respected career in politics or government at the national and international level. As a term of respect, it is usually left to supporters or commentators to use the term...

 and mariners
Sailor
A sailor, mariner, or seaman is a person who navigates water-borne vessels or assists in their operation, maintenance, or service. The term can apply to professional mariners, military personnel, and recreational sailors as well as a plethora of other uses...

 for Darius; however, Greek fear of the strength of Darius' kingdom became strong and the constant interference by the Greeks in Ionia
Ionia
Ionia is an ancient region of central coastal Anatolia in present-day Turkey, the region nearest İzmir, which was historically Smyrna. It consisted of the northernmost territories of the Ionian League of Greek settlements...

 and Lydia
Lydia
Lydia was an Iron Age kingdom of western Asia Minor located generally east of ancient Ionia in the modern Turkish provinces of Manisa and inland İzmir. Its population spoke an Anatolian language known as Lydian....

 were all stepping stones in the conflict that was yet to come between Persia and Greece.

When Aristagoras organized the Ionian revolt, Eretria
Eretria
Erétria was a polis in Ancient Greece, located on the western coast of the island of Euboea, south of Chalcis, facing the coast of Attica across the narrow Euboean Gulf. Eretria was an important Greek polis in the 6th/5th century BC. However, it lost its importance already in antiquity...

 and Athens supported him by sending ships and troops to Ionia and burning Sardis
Sardis
Sardis or Sardes was an ancient city at the location of modern Sart in Turkey's Manisa Province...

. Persian military and naval operations to quell the revolt ended in the Persian reoccupation of Ionian and Greek islands; however, anti-Persian parties gained more power in Athens, and pro-Persian aristocrats were exiled from Athens and Sparta. Darius responded by sending troops led by his son-in-law across the Hellespont; however, a violent storm and harassment by Thracians forced the troops to return to Persia. Seeking revenge on Athens and Eretria, Darius assembled another army of 20,000 men under his Admiral, Datis
Datis
For other uses of the word Dati, see Dati .Datis or Datus was a Median admiral who served the Persian Empire, under Darius the Great...

 who met success when he captured Eretria and advanced to Marathon. In 490 BCE, at the Battle of Marathon
Battle of Marathon
The Battle of Marathon took place in 490 BC, during the first Persian invasion of Greece. It was fought between the citizens of Athens, aided by Plataea, and a Persian force commanded by Datis and Artaphernes. It was the culmination of the first attempt by Persia, under King Darius I, to subjugate...

, the Persian army was defeated by a heavily armed Athenian army, with 9,000 men who were supported by 600 Plataea
Plataea
Plataea or Plataeae was an ancient city, located in Greece in southeastern Boeotia, south of Thebes. It was the location of the Battle of Plataea in 479 BC, in which an alliance of Greek city-states defeated the Persians....

ns, 1,000 soldiers from each of eleven Greek city-states
Polis
Polis , plural poleis , literally means city in Greek. It could also mean citizenship and body of citizens. In modern historiography "polis" is normally used to indicate the ancient Greek city-states, like Classical Athens and its contemporaries, so polis is often translated as "city-state."The...

 (11,000 men in total) and 10,000 lightly armed soldiers led by Miltiades
Miltiades the Younger
Miltiades the Younger or Miltiades IV was the son of one Cimon, a renowned Olympic chariot-racer. Miltiades considered himself a member of the Aeacidae, and is known mostly for his role in the Battle of Marathon; as well as his rather tragic downfall afterwards. His son Cimon was a major Athenian...

.

The defeat at Marathon marked the end of the first Persian invasion of Greece. Darius began preparations for a second force which he would command, instead of his generals; however, before the preparations were complete, Darius died, thus leaving the task to his son Xerxes
Xerxes I of Persia
Xerxes I of Persia , Ḫšayāršā, ), also known as Xerxes the Great, was the fifth king of kings of the Achaemenid Empire.-Youth and rise to power:...

.

Family


Darius was son of Hystaspes and grandson of Arschama I, both men belonging to the Achaemenid tribe, and being alive when Darius ascended the throne. Darius justifies his ascension to the throne with his lineage tracing back to Achaemenes
Achaemenes
Achaemenēs was the eponymous ancestor of the Achaemenid Dynasty, who ruled Persia between 705 BC and 675 BC.The name is a bahuvrihi compound literally translating to "having a friend's mind", or "characterized by a follower's spirit"....

, even though he was distantly related. For these reasons, Darius married Atossa
Atossa
Atossa was an Achaemenid queen and daughter of Cyrus the Great and his wife, Cassandane...

, daughter of Cyrus
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

, with whom he had four sons, Xerxes
Xerxes I of Persia
Xerxes I of Persia , Ḫšayāršā, ), also known as Xerxes the Great, was the fifth king of kings of the Achaemenid Empire.-Youth and rise to power:...

, Achaimenes, Masistes
Masistes
Masistes was a Persian prince of the Achaemenid Dynasty, son of king Darius I and of his wife Atossa, and full brother of king Xerxes I...

 and Hystaspes. He also married Artystone
Artystone
Artystone was a Persian princess, daughter of king Cyrus the Great, and sister or half-sister of Atossa and Cambyses II. Along with Atossa and her niece Parmys, Artystone married king Darius I...

, another daughter of Cyrus, with whom he had two sons, Arsames and Gobryas. Darius also married Parmys
Parmys
Parmys was a Persian princess, the only daughter of Bardiya , son of Cyrus the Great. She was the grand daughter of Cyrus the Great, and Cassandane....

, the daughter of Bardiya, with whom he had a son, Ariomardos. Furthermore, Darius married Phratagone, with whom he had two sons, Abrokomas and Hyperantes. He also married another woman of the nobility, Phaidime, the daughter of Otanes. It is unknown if he had children with her. Before these royal marriages, Darius married a commoner with whom he had three sons, Artobarzanes(the first born), Arabignes and Arsamenes, while daughters are not known. Although Artobarzanes was the first born of Darius, Xerxes became heir and next king through the influence of Atossa, who had great authority in the kingdom, as Darius loved her, of all of his wives, most.

Death


After becoming aware of the Persian defeat at the Battle of Marathon
Battle of Marathon
The Battle of Marathon took place in 490 BC, during the first Persian invasion of Greece. It was fought between the citizens of Athens, aided by Plataea, and a Persian force commanded by Datis and Artaphernes. It was the culmination of the first attempt by Persia, under King Darius I, to subjugate...

, Darius began planning another expedition against the Greek-city states; this time, he, not Datis, would command the imperial armies. Darius had spent three years preparing men and ships for war, when a revolt broke out in Egypt. This revolt in Egypt worsened his failing health and prevented the possibility of leading another army himself. Soon Darius died. In October 486 BCE the body of Darius was embalmed
Embalming
Embalming, in most modern cultures, is the art and science of temporarily preserving human remains to forestall decomposition and to make them suitable for public display at a funeral. The three goals of embalming are thus sanitization, presentation and preservation of a corpse to achieve this...

 and entombed in the rock-cut sepulcher which had been prepared for him several years earlier.

Xerxes, eldest son of Darius and Atossa
Atossa
Atossa was an Achaemenid queen and daughter of Cyrus the Great and his wife, Cassandane...

, succeeded to the throne as Xerxes I; however, prior to Xerxes's accession, he contested the succession with his elder half-brother Artobazan, Darius' eldest son who was born to his commoner first wife before Darius rose to power.

In 1923 CE German archaeologist Ernst Herzfeld
Ernst Herzfeld
Ernst Emil Herzfeld was a German archaeologist and Iranologist.-Life:Herzfeld was born in Celle, Province of Hanover...

 made casts of the cuneiform inscriptions on Darius's tomb. They are currently housed in the archives of the Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
The Freer Gallery of Art joins the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery to form the Smithsonian Institution's national museums of Asian art. The Freer contains art from East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Islamic world, the ancient Near East, and ancient Egypt, as well as a significant collection of...

 and Arthur M. Sackler Museum
Arthur M. Sackler Museum
The Arthur M. Sackler Museum joins the Fogg Museum and the Busch-Reisinger Museum as part of the Harvard Art Museums. Its postmodern building was designed by British architect James Stirling, generally regarded as the greatest British architect of the 20th century, and recipient of the Pritzker...

, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.

Organization



Early in his reign, Darius wanted to organize the loosely organized empire with a system of taxation he inherited from from Cyrus and Cambyses. To do this, Darius created twenty provinces called satrapies (or archi) which were each assigned to a satrap
Satrap
Satrap was the name given to the governors of the provinces of the ancient Median and Achaemenid Empires and in several of their successors, such as the Sassanid Empire and the Hellenistic empires....

(archon) and specified fixed tribute
Tribute
A tribute is wealth, often in kind, that one party gives to another as a sign of respect or, as was often the case in historical contexts, of submission or allegiance. Various ancient states, which could be called suzerains, exacted tribute from areas they had conquered or threatened to conquer...

s that the satrapies were required to pay. A complete list is preserved in the catalog of Herodotus, beginning from Ionia and listing the other satrapies from west to east excluding Persis which was the land of the Persians and the only province which was not a conquered land. Tributes were paid in both silver and gold talents.

Tributes in silver from each satrap were measured with the Babylonian talent. Those paid in gold were measured with the Euboic
Euboea
Euboea is the second largest Greek island in area and population, after Crete. The narrow Euripus Strait separates it from Boeotia in mainland Greece. In general outline it is a long and narrow, seahorse-shaped island; it is about long, and varies in breadth from to...

 talent. The total tribute from the satraps came to an amount less than 15,000 silver talents.

The majority of the satraps were of Persian
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

 origin and were members of the royal house or the six great noble families. These satraps were personally picked by Darius to monitor these provinces, which were divided into sub-provinces with their own governors which were chosen either by the royal court or by the satrap. To assess tributes, a commission evaluated the expenses and revenues of each satrap. To ensure that one person did not gain too much power, each satrap had a secretary who observed the affairs of the state and communicated with Darius, a treasurer who safeguarded provincial revenues and a garrison commander who was responsible for the troops. Additionally, royal inspectors who were the "eyes and ears" of Darius completed further checks over each satrap.

There were headquarters of imperial administration at Persepolis, Susa, and Babylon while Bactria, Ecbatana, Sardis, Dascyclium and Memphis also had branches of imperial administration. Darius chose Aramaic as a common language, which soon spread throughout the empire. However, Darius gathered a group of scholars to create a separate language system only used for Persis and the Persians, which was called Aryan script which was only used for official inscriptions.

Economy



Darius conducted the introduction of a universal currency, the daric
Persian daric
The daric was a gold coin used within the Persian Empire. It was of very high gold quality, with a purity of 95.83%. Weighing around 8.4 grams, it bore the image of the Persian king or a great warrior armed with a bow and arrow, but who is depicted is not known for sure...

 sometime before 500 BCE. Darius applied the coinage system as a transnational currency to regulate trade and commerce throughout his empire. The daric was also recognized beyond the borders of the empire - in places such as Celtic Central Europe and Eastern Europe. There were two types of darics, a gold and a silver. Only the king could mint gold darics, important generals and satraps minted silver darics, the latter usually to recruit Greek mercenaries in Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

. The daric was a major boost to international trade, trade goods such as textile
Textile
A textile or cloth is a flexible woven material consisting of a network of natural or artificial fibres often referred to as thread or yarn. Yarn is produced by spinning raw fibres of wool, flax, cotton, or other material to produce long strands...

s, carpet
Carpet
A carpet is a textile floor covering consisting of an upper layer of "pile" attached to a backing. The pile is generally either made from wool or a manmade fibre such as polypropylene,nylon or polyester and usually consists of twisted tufts which are often heat-treated to maintain their...

s, tool
Tool
A tool is a device that can be used to produce an item or achieve a task, but that is not consumed in the process. Informally the word is also used to describe a procedure or process with a specific purpose. Tools that are used in particular fields or activities may have different designations such...

s and metal objects
Metalworking
Metalworking is the process of working with metals to create individual parts, assemblies, or large scale structures. The term covers a wide range of work from large ships and bridges to precise engine parts and delicate jewelry. It therefore includes a correspondingly wide range of skills,...

 began to travel throughout Asia, Europe and Africa. To further improve trade, Darius built a royal highway, a postal system and Phoenician-based commercial shipping.

The daric also improved government revenues as the introduction of the daric led to new taxes on land, livestock and marketplaces. This also led to the registration of land. It was measured and taxed accordingly. The increased government revenues helped maintain and improve existing infrastructure
Infrastructure
Infrastructure is basic physical and organizational structures needed for the operation of a society or enterprise, or the services and facilities necessary for an economy to function...

. The increased government revenues also helped fund irrigation
Irrigation
Irrigation may be defined as the science of artificial application of water to the land or soil. It is used to assist in the growing of agricultural crops, maintenance of landscapes, and revegetation of disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of inadequate rainfall...

 projects in dry lands. This new tax system also led to the formation of state banking and the creation of banking firms. One of the most famous banking firms was Murashu and Sons, based in Nippur
Nippur
Nippur was one of the most ancient of all the Sumerian cities. It was the special seat of the worship of the Sumerian god Enlil, the "Lord Wind," ruler of the cosmos subject to An alone...

. These banking firms provided loan
Loan
A loan is a type of debt. Like all debt instruments, a loan entails the redistribution of financial assets over time, between the lender and the borrower....

s and credit to clients.

The daric was called dārayaka within the empire
Achaemenid Empire
The Achaemenid Empire , sometimes known as First Persian Empire and/or Persian Empire, was founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great who overthrew the Median confederation...

 and was most likely named after Darius. In an effort to further improve trade, Darius built canals, underground waterways and a powerful navy. He further improved and expanded the network of roads and waystations throughout the empire, so that there was a system of travel authorization for the King, satraps and other high officials, which entitled the traveller to draw provisions at daily stopping places.

Religion



While there is no absolute consensus on the kings before Darius, such as Cyrus
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

 and Cambyses
Cambyses II of Persia
Cambyses II son of Cyrus the Great , was a king of kings of the Achaemenid Empire. Cambyses's grandfather was Cambyses I, king of Anshan. Following Cyrus the Great's conquest of the Near East and Central Asia, Cambyses II further expanded the empire into Egypt during the Late Period by defeating...

, it is well established that Darius was an adherent of Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster and was formerly among the world's largest religions. It was probably founded some time before the 6th century BCE in Greater Iran.In Zoroastrianism, the Creator Ahura Mazda is all good, and no evil...

or at least a firm believer in Ahura Mazda
Ahura Mazda
Ahura Mazdā is the Avestan name for a divinity of the Old Iranian religion who was proclaimed the uncreated God by Zoroaster, the founder of Zoroastrianism...

. As can be seen at the Behistun Inscription
Behistun Inscription
The Behistun Inscription The Behistun Inscription The Behistun Inscription (also Bistun or Bisutun, Modern Persian: بیستون The Behistun Inscription (also Bistun or Bisutun, Modern Persian: بیستون...

, Darius believed that Ahura Mazda
Ahura Mazda
Ahura Mazdā is the Avestan name for a divinity of the Old Iranian religion who was proclaimed the uncreated God by Zoroaster, the founder of Zoroastrianism...

 had appointed him to rule the Achaemenid Empire
Achaemenid Empire
The Achaemenid Empire , sometimes known as First Persian Empire and/or Persian Empire, was founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great who overthrew the Median confederation...

. Darius had dualistic convictions and believed that each rebellion in his kingdom was the work of druj, the enemy of Asha
Asha
Asha is the Avestan language term for a concept of cardinal importance to Zoroastrian theology and doctrine. In the moral sphere, aša/arta represents what has been called "the decisive confessional concept of Zoroastrianism." ...

. Darius believed that because he lived righteously by Asha, Ahura Mazda
Ahura Mazda
Ahura Mazdā is the Avestan name for a divinity of the Old Iranian religion who was proclaimed the uncreated God by Zoroaster, the founder of Zoroastrianism...

 supported him. In many cuneiform
Cuneiform
Cuneiform can refer to:*Cuneiform script, an ancient writing system originating in Mesopotamia in the 4th millennium BC*Cuneiform , three bones in the human foot*Cuneiform Records, a music record label...

 inscriptions denoting his achievements, he presents himself as a devout believer, perhaps even convinced that he had a divine right to rule over the world.

In the lands that were conquered by his empire, Darius followed the same Achaemenid tolerance that Cyrus
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

 had shown and later Achaemenid emperor
Emperor
An emperor is a monarch, usually the sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm. Empress, the female equivalent, may indicate an emperor's wife or a woman who rules in her own right...

s would show. He supported faiths and religions that were "alien" as long as the adherents were submissive and peaceable, sometimes giving them grants from his treasury for their purposes. He had funded the restoration of the Jewish temple which had originally been decreed by Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

, presented favour towards Greek cults which can be seen in his letter to Gadatas, and supported Elamite priests. He had also observed Egyptian religious rites related to kingship and had built the temple for the Egyptian God, Amun
Amun
Amun, reconstructed Egyptian Yamānu , was a god in Egyptian mythology who in the form of Amun-Ra became the focus of the most complex system of theology in Ancient Egypt...

.

Construction



During Darius's Greek expedition
First Persian invasion of Greece
The first Persian invasion of Greece, during the Persian Wars, began in 492 BCE, and ended with the decisive Athenian victory at the Battle of Marathon in 490 BCE. The invasion, consisting of two distinct campaigns, was ordered by the Persian king Darius I primarily in order to punish the...

, he had begun construction projects in Susa
Susa
Susa was an ancient city of the Elamite, Persian and Parthian empires of Iran. It is located in the lower Zagros Mountains about east of the Tigris River, between the Karkheh and Dez Rivers....

, Egypt
History of Achaemenid Egypt
The history of Achaemenid Egypt is divided into two eras: an initial period of Achaemenid Persian occupation when Egypt became a satrapy, followed by an interval of independence; and a second period of occupation, again under the Achaemenids....

 and Persepolis
Persepolis
Perspolis was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire . Persepolis is situated northeast of the modern city of Shiraz in the Fars Province of modern Iran. In contemporary Persian, the site is known as Takht-e Jamshid...

. He had linked the Red Sea
Red Sea
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

 to the river Nile
Nile
The Nile is a major north-flowing river in North Africa, generally regarded as the longest river in the world. It is long. It runs through the ten countries of Sudan, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Egypt.The Nile has two major...

 by building a canal which ran from modernZaqāzīq
Zagazig
Zagazig is a town in Lower Egypt. Situated in the eastern part of the Nile delta, it is the capital of the governorate of Sharqia.As of 1999, its population was approximately 279,000. It is built on a branch of the Fresh Water or Ismaïlia Canal and on al-Muˤizz Canal , and is 47 miles by rail...

 to modern Suez
Suez
Suez is a seaport city in north-eastern Egypt, located on the north coast of the Gulf of Suez , near the southern terminus of the Suez Canal, having the same boundaries as Suez governorate. It has three harbors, Adabya, Ain Sokhna and Port Tawfiq, and extensive port facilities...

. To open this canal, he traveled to Egypt in 497 BCE, where the inauguration was done among great fanfare and celebration. Darius also built a canal to connect the Red Sea
Red Sea
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

 and Mediterranean
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

. On this visit to Egypt he erected monuments and executed Aryandes
Aryandes
Aryandes was the Persian satrap of Egypt in the late sixth century BCE. He was first appointed in c. 525 BCE by Cambyses, the Persian conqueror of Egypt. In 521 BCE, Aryandes probably dealt with a rebellion led by a local dynast named Petubastis. By 510, Aryandes fell foul of the reigning Persian...

 on accounts of treason. When Darius returned to Persis, he found that the codification of Egyptian law had been finished.

Additionally, Darius sponsored large construction projects in Susa, Babylon
Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

, Egypt and Persepolis. In Susa, Darius built a new palace complex in the north of the city. An inscription states that the palace was destroyed during the reign of Artaxerxes I, but was rebuilt. Today only glazed bricks of the palace remain, the majority of them in the Louvre. In Pasargadae
Pasargadae
Pasargadae , the capital of Cyrus the Great and also his last resting place, was a city in ancient Persia, and is today an archaeological site and one of Iran's UNESCO World Heritage Sites.-History:...

 Darius finished all incomplete construction projects from the reign of Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

. A palace was also built during the reign of Darius, with an inscription in the name of Cyrus the Great. It was previously believed that Cyrus had constructed this building, however due to the cuneiform script being used, the palace is believed to have been constructed by Darius.

In Egypt Darius built many temples and restored those that had previously been destroyed. Even though Darius was a Zoroastrian, he built temples dedicated to the Gods of the Ancient Egyptian religion. Several temples found were dedicated to Ptah
Ptah
In Ancient Egyptian Religion, Ptah was the deification of the primordial mound in the Ennead cosmogony, which was more literally referred to as Ta-tenen , meaning risen land, or as Tanen, meaning submerged land, though Tatenen was a god in his...

 and Nekhbet
Nekhbet
In Egyptian mythology, Nekhbet was an early predynastic local goddess who was the patron of the city of Nekheb, her name meaning of Nekheb...

. Darius also created several roads and routes in Egypt. The monuments that Darius built were often inscribed in the official languages of the Persian Empire, Old Persian, Elamite and Babylonian and Egyptian hieroglyphs
Egyptian hieroglyphs
Egyptian hieroglyphs were a formal writing system used by the ancient Egyptians that combined logographic and alphabetic elements. Egyptians used cursive hieroglyphs for religious literature on papyrus and wood...

. To construct these monuments Darius hired a large number of workers and artisans of diverse nationalities. Several of these workers were deportees who had been employed specifically for these projects. These deportees enhanced the economy and improved international relations with neighboring countries that these deportees arrived from. At the time of Darius's death construction projects were still underway. Xerxes completed these works and in some cases expanded his father's projects by erecting new buildings of his own.

Further reading