Ancient West Asia , the Persians cont.

After the death of Cambyses, a distant cousin of Cyrus and he took the throne in 521 BC.  His name was Darius and he was a Persian and a Zoroastrian responsible for moving the Persian capital to the new city of Persepolis. To build up the city, he hired men from all over to erect new buildings, including Greeks. Darius was interested in conquering other lands. He attempted to take over the Scythians, but he was not successful. In 490 BC, he also tried to conquer Athens and mainland Greece.

Some Greek cities (like Thebes) feared Darius and surrendered to him. Others formulated treaties. However, Athens would have none of this and decided to fight back. They were able to defeat the Persians, forcing Darius to take his troops back home. Replacing Darius as the next Persian king was Xerxes, who held his own in a huge revolt in Egypt. He then attacked Greece once more in 480 BC. However, Xerxes was also defeated and sent back home. At that point, the Persians decided to cease any future attempts at trying to expand their empire.

For the next 150 years, the Persians spent their time ruling in places, such as Afghanistan, Turkey, and Egypt. Their reign ended when Alexander the Great conquered their lands. To learn more about the Persians, browse the following facts:

A play written by the ancient Greek playwright named Aeschylus about the Persians (called ‘The Persians’), became a well-known Athenian tragedy. In 472 BCE, the first production was released and to this day, is known as the oldest play to survive throughout the history of theatre. The plot focuses on the way the Persians responding to the news that they had been defeated at the Battle of Salamis (which took place in 480 BCE) , which played an important role in the Greco,Persian Wars. Most notably, this would become the only Greek tragedy in existence that is based on contemporary events.

Xerxes I of Persia (also referred to as Xerxes the Great) reigned as king of Persia from 485 to 465 BC. A translation of his name means ‘ruler of heroes.’  

When Darius died in 486 BC, a woman by the name of Amestris was married to the crown prince, Xerxes. She was described by the people and namely, Herodotus as a cruel Queen who was often linked to human sacrifices and other activities that were actually forbidden by the Persian religion.

After Cyrus rose to power for the Persians, a handful of Median kings ruled, such as Deioces (727 to 675), Phraortes (674 to 653), Madius (under Scythian Rule from 652 to 625), Cyaxares (624 to 585), and Astyages  (589 to 549)

The earliest record making mention of the Persians has been traced back to an Assyrian inscription that dates back before 844 BC, which refers to them as the Parsu. They dwelled in a region located close to Lake Urmia and lived amongst the Medes.