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Darius I the Great
Darius the Great


September 522-October 486 BC


c. 549 BC


486 BC




Xerxes I


Achaemenid Empire



Religious beliefs


Darius I or Darius the Great (Old Persian: (Dārayavahuš) > modern Persianداریوش بزرگ ) (c. 549 BC – October 486 BC), was a Zoroastrian Persian Shahanshah (Great King) of Persia. He reigned from September 522 to October 486 BC as the third Achaemenian King and called by some arguably "the greatest of the Achaemenid kings".

He managed not only to “hold together the empire” (to use his words), but also to extend the empire founded by Cyrus the Great in all directions; east into the Indus valley, north against the Saka tribes, and west into Thrace and Macedon. His reign lasted thirty-five years and completed the work of his Achaemenian predecessors. Under Darius and the generation he belonged to, Achaemenid Iran became one of the major powers in the world. However, the successful expansion of the empire was not Darius' only important achievement. He also centralized administration of his empire and encouraged the development of cultural and artistic activity as demonstrated by his building projects at Susa and Persepolis.

In the lands he conquered, Darius continued Cyrus' path of active benevolence to non-Persian faiths most evidently seen in his construction of a huge temple to Amun-Re in Egypt.Darius completed the work of Cambyses II and issued a code of laws in Egypt and become the lawgiver to Egyptians.

His entire empire benefited from legal reforms and the development of juridical systems. Indeed most peoples of Darius' empire started to use the Old Persian word "dāta" (law, King's law) in related documents.

Darius' reign was marked by upheaval and unrest: twice Babylonia revolted, Susiana three times, and the Ionian Revolt precipitated several Persian expeditions against Greece, including their defeat by the Greeks at Marathon in 490 BC.

Darius was a restless king as evidenced by his major building programs in Persepolis, Susa, Egypt, and elsewhere. Toward the end of his reign, he decided to punish the Greeks for supporting the Ionian Revolt. But a further revolt in Egypt (probably led by the Persian satrap of Egypt) had to be suppressed first. As Darius' health was failing, this prevented him from acting in person against the Greeks. Major expeditions such as that planned against the Greeks required, under Persian law, the Achaemenian kings to choose a successor before starting such expeditions. Upon his decision to leave for Greece, Darius prepared his tomb at Naqsh-e Rostam and appointed Xerxes I, his oldest son by Atossa, as his successor. But he did not leave Persis again and he died there in October 486 BC.


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