published on 02 September 2009
Darius I "the Great" (549-486 BCE) was a king of Persia who ruled for 35 years, from September 522 BCE to October 486 BCE. He was the third Achaemenian king and was considered by many to be “the greatest of the Achaemenian kings.” During his reign, Darius completed the work of his predecessors, and not only did he “hold together the empire,” but he also extended it in all directions. Thus, with Darius as Great King, Achaemenian Persia became the largest empire in the world.
Darius was responsible for more than just the expansion of the empire. He also centralized the administration of the empire, encouraged cultural and artistic pursuits, introduced legal reforms, and developed juridical systems. In addition, many large building projects were started under Darius’ rule, including the construction of a new capital city called Persepolis.
As much as Darius’ reign can be characterized by these achievements, it can also be characterized by a number of upheavals and battles, and general unrest among the citizens. There were two revolts in Babylonia and three in Susania. The Ionian Revolt lasted from 499 to 493 BCE and was a large-scale rebellion by many regions of Asia Minor against Persian rule.
Darius planned an expedition to Greece in order to punish the Greeks for supporting the Ionian Revolt. His health, however, began to fail and he chose Xerxes I, his oldest son by Atossa, to be his successor. He never went to Greece, as he died in Persis in October 486 BCE.
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