Cyrus The Great and the Inscription
History Carnival #14 mentions Mohraz's (Mohamad Razagh in Iran) discussion of Cyrus The Great's ( 580-529 BC) inscription cylinder. It may be the first written statement of rights:
I am Cyrus, the king of the world, great king, legitimate king (son of Cambyses) whose rule Bel and Nebo loved and whom they wanted as king to please their hearts.As Moraz says:
When I entered Babylon as a friend and established the seat of government in the place of the ruler under jubilation and rejoicing, Marduk, the great lord (induced) the magnanimous inhabitants of Babylon (Din Tir) (to love me) and I daily endeavored to praise him. My numerous troops walked around in Babylon in peace, I did not allow anybody to terrorize (any of the people) of the country of Sumer and Akkad. I strove for peace in Babylon (Ka Dingir ra) and in all his (other) sacred cities. As to the inhabitants of Babylon (who) against the will of the gods (had/were I abolished) the corvee (yoke) which was against their (social standing). I brought relief to their dilapidated housing, putting an end to their main complaints. Marduk, the great lord, was well pleased with my deeds and sent friendly blessing to myself, Cyrus, the King, who reveres him, to Cambyses, my son, as well as to all my troops, and we all (praised) his great (name) joyously, standing before him in peace I returned to (these) sacred cities on the other side of the Tigris, the sanctuaries of which have been ruins for a long time, the images which (used) to live therein and established for them permanent sanctuaries. I (also) gathered all their (former) inhabitants and returned (to them) their habitations. Furthermore, I resettled upon the command of Marduk, the great lord, all the gods of Sumer and Akkad who Nabonidus has brought to Babylon (su sa na) to the anger of the lord of the gods unharmed in their chapels, the places which make them happy.
May all the gods whom I have resettled in their sacred cities ask Bel and Nebo daily for a long life (six lines destroyed) and always with good words remember my good deeds that Babylonians incessantly cherished me because I resettled them in comfortable habitations I endeavored to strengthen the fortification of Imgur-Enlil and the great fortification of the City of Babylon the side brick wall by the city's trench which the former king (had built and had not finished). This was finished around (the city), that none of the former kings, despite the labor of their yoked people, had not accomplished. I rebuilt and completed with tar and brick and installed large gates entrances were built by cedar wood covered with brass and copper pivot I strengthened all the gates I saw inscribed the name of my predecessor, King Ashurbanipal.
On this historical turning point, by order of Cyrus, all the captive nationalities held as slaves for generations in Babylon were freed and the return to their homeland was financed. Among the liberated captives were 50,000 Jews held in Babylon for three generations whose return toward the rebuilding of their temple in Palestine, a policy that was followed by Darius and his successors. Some of the liberated Jews were invited to and did settle in Persia. Because of such a generous act, Cyrus has been anointed in the Bible. He is the only gentile in the Bible, who has been titled Messiah, an is mentioned explicitly as the Lord's shepherd and his anointed (Messiah). Other references to Cyrus are attested in Isaiah 45:4 where Cyrus is called by name and given a title of honor; he is also called to rebuild the God's city and free His people (Is. 45:13) and is chosen, called and brought successful by God (Is. 48:14-15).All in all, an admirable point in time (and thanks to Mohraz for the insights)
What took place after the victory in Babylon was contrary to the standard of the time. Based on the inscriptions of the neighboring countries (Assyrians, Babylonians), it was customary to destroy the vanquished cities, level houses and temples, massacre the people or enslave the population, replace them with snakes, wolves and even carry away the soil to make the land barren. But here, peace and liberty replaced the massacre and slavery, and construction substituted for destruction. After Cyrus, his son Cambyses ruled for eight years (530BC to 522 BC) and captured Egypt, and as a sign of respect toward their culture and religion, he prostrated himself before the goddess, Meith and paid homage to Apis, the Egyptian totem (Bull).
After Cambyses, Darius took over the throne and ruled form 522BC to 486BC. From 518BC to 515BC he established peace and tranquility in Egypt and also paid homage to their totem, Apis. Darius, in his inscriptions, expresses faith in the commands of Ahuramazda. He declares"Whoever worships Ahuramazda, shall receive happiness in life and after death." He calls Elamites faithless, and because they did not worship Ahuramazda, yet he does not pressure them to change faith. Darius exhorts his successors"thou shalt be king thereafter, protect yourself from the lies and punish the liar and deceitful."
Just a thought.
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Roderick T. Long - 8/16/2005
Incidentally, Cyrus (Kurush) is the subject of what is sometimes called the first novel ever written: The Education of Cyrus by the Greek philosopher Xenophon. Although Xenophon knew Persia well, the book makes little attempt at historical accuracy, since Xenophon is primarily interested in using the story to make various philosophical points; but it's a great read.
Kenneth R Gregg - 8/16/2005
Agree completely. One of the many reasons why the current holder of the highest office will never be remembered as "Bush the Great."
Just a thought.
William Marina - 8/16/2005
A useful comparison between the kind of nasty counerinsurgency tactics emplyed by the Bushians today, in contrast to Cyrus' efforts to win the hearts and minds of the people!