Cyrus

Map

Point out the Persian heartland (modern Fars) marked as PERSIA, and the main cities – Ecbatana (old capital of Medes in the mountains), Susa (near the old capital of the Elamites in the plain) and Pasargadae (the new capital founded by Cyrus). Where is Mesopotamia, ancestor of Sumer and Akkad. How far is it from Persia to Lydia?

Cyrus is the Greek form of his name Kurash.

The quotation is a short extract from the text of the Cyrus cylinder. It's dealt with more fully on page 20. But here's more about it: the clay cylinder was found at Babylon in the sanctuary of the chief Babylonian god, Marduk. It was normal for a new king to disparage his predecessor (Nabonidus) thank the gods for their help and re-do/ improve on what the last king had done (like Trump and Obama?). Several of Nabonidus' cylinders exist. It's in cuneiform - in yet another language: Akkadian, a very ancient Semitic language attested from 29th century BC. It had already been replaced as a spoken language by Aramaic - but was still in use for this kind of inscription.

Akkad had been a flourishing empire in Mesopotamia in the 3rd millennium (peaking around 2300 BC). Sumer was an even older empire (the earliest in the region) dating from the 4th millennium BC. It was conquered by Akkad, and the Akkadian cuneiform was used to write its language (which is not related to any other known language). So when Cyrus - as new king of Babylon calls himself king of Akkad and Sumer he's using the very ancient titles traditionally used by the kings of Babylon - no connection with Persia at all. Compare our use of Britannia on coins - the Roman name for Britain, and use of Latin today in formal inscriptions etc (Why SPQR on manhole covers in Rome?)

Anshan is a region in the southern part of the Zagros mountains. It had been ruled by the Elamites - but taken from them by the Persians, Cyrus' ancestors. Cyrus though uses it as a more ancient word for Pars/Fars/Persia. Herodotus, of course, has a much more romantic story of Cyrus' origins - including giving him a Mede princess as a mother. (Herodotus I.95 ff). There's no hint in Cyrus account that Persia was ever ruled by the Medes!

Croesus. The phrase "rich as Croesus" isn't heard much these days. Perhaps students might like to think up an alternative.

Coin of Lydia might lead to discussions about a single currency - the power of the dollar, the euro, and former power of the pound sterling?

More on the website: http://www.the-persians.co.uk/cyrus1.htm