CLA230 Lecture 11 Notes
The Battle of Marathon
- around 490 B.C.
- end of the Archaic Period
- relationship between the Greek poleis and political units
- the Persian Empire – largest that the world had seen until that point – well
organized and wealthy
- in 7 century B.C. – beginning of the Archaic Period – Persian Empire did not
- two dominant kingdoms in the Near East – the first was the Assyrian Empire
- Assyrian Empire – Semitic speakers – fairly complex but very dependent on
- took over the Egyptian kingdom in 671 B.C.
- capital of Assyrian Empire was Nineveh – sacked by Medes and Babylonians
- sack of Nineveh occurred in 612 B.C.
- Medes – pastoral group just outside Assyrian Empire – some from the
Assyrian Empire and some were hired as mercenaries by the Assyrian Empire
- Medes were intermediates between commodities in Afghanistan and
- the Lydian Kingdom expands as well – but fairly small
- Median Kingdom is fairly large
- Neo-Babylonians have a substantial area as well in the southern Near East
- Egypt goes almost as far as Elephantine at this point
- however – it is unclear what Persia is at this point – Persia may be its own
kingdom or a Median vassal
King Cyrus the Great
- Persian king – Cyrus – 559-529 B.C.
- King Cyrus conquers the Medes
- main source is Herodotus – Persians were vassals of the Medes in his account
- more modern Babylonian sources claim that the Persians were their own
- land gained by Cyrus
• Media – 550 B.C.
• Lydia – 447 B.C.
• Babylonians – 539 B.C.
- Cyrus dies after this – his son Cambyses takes over
- land gained by Cambyses
• Egypt – 525 B.C.
- many Greeks living in Lydian Kingdom
- Medes and Lydians were at war for quite some time – Cyrus used this a
propaganda – waged war on Lydians to establish himself as a good king to
the recently conquered Medes
- lived 560-546 B.C.
- source is Herodotus
- many mythical stories – Trojan War
- but names Croesus as the beginning of East-West history from the Greek
perspective - quote: “Croesus of Lydia, son of Alyattes, was the first foreigner so far as we
know to come into direct contact with the Greeks, both in the way of
conquest and alliance, forcing tribute from the Ionians, Aeolians, and Asiatic
Dorians, and forming a pact of friendship with the Spartans. Before Croesus’
time all the Greeks had been free.”
- also associated with expansion
- Croesus thinks of fighting with the Persians and goes to Delphi – expansionist
- Delphic oracle say – if you fight, a great empire will fall – Croesus takes this
to mean that the Persian Empire will fall
- Croesus dismisses his mercenaries in winter because he does not think that
Cyrus will attack – until then, all fighting took place in summer months –
winter was a waiting time
- however, Cyrus attacks in winter and Sardis falls – oracle come true but it is
the Lydian that falls, not the Persian Empire
- Greek speakers had lived on the coast for many years – Metus, Smyrma, etc.
- Smyrma – main port in Ionia
- just inland of Smyrma was Sardis, the Lydian capital
- Herodotus was from Halicarnassus – in Ionia
- conquest of Babylon in 539 B.C. – after this event, Cyrus’ son Cambyses
sacks and takes over Egypt in 525 B.C.
- there were many Greek speakers living within the Persian Empire due to its
rapid expansion – took over territory in which Greeks were living
- kings of the Persian Empire
- Achmaemenid – royal house of Persia
- Cyrus the Great
• creator of the Persian Empire
• ruled 559-529 B.C.
• took over his father’s rule after his death
• ruled 529-522 B.C.
• half-brother of Cambyses
• “pretender” – takes over while Cambyses is in Egypt
• ruled 522-521 B.C.
- Darius I
• also a “pretender”
• not related to Cyrus at all
• rules 521-486 B.C.
- Darius reorganizes the Persian Empire
- divides the empire into twenty satrapies – empire is becoming too big to
- each of the satrapies were run like a tiny kingdom
- the Persian Empire was run like a large family business – treated like family
business in which lesser tasks were delegated to “sons” or “nephews”
- satraps – relatives of the king – became leaders of each satrapy - satraps were free to do what they like as long as they paid tribute to the
empire and provided fighting men for the Persian army
- a fair amount of local autonomy was possible
- modern states impose much more on their subjects than did the ancient ones
- total tribute to the empire was approximately 14,560 talents of silver
• 1 talent weighed 25.9 kg, therefore 377 tons of silver
• 1 talent was equal to 6,000 drachmai th
• 1 talent supported one trireme for a month in 5 century B.C.
The Cyrus Cylinder
- document – dated the year after Cyrus took over Babylon
- dates to the year 538 B.C.
- quote: “Marduk, the great lord, a protector of his people, beheld with
pleasure [Cyrus’] good deeds and his upright mind [and so] ordered him to
march against his city Babylon…. He delivered into [Cyrus’] hands Nabonidus,
the king who did not worship [Marduk].”
- clearly the document is Persian propaganda
- Cyrus presents himself as the legitimate Babylonian king
- idea that Marduk, the Babylonian god, legitimizes the rule of Cyrus because
he is pleased with the king – therefore Marduk gives Cyrus the right to
vanquish his enemies and the enemies of Marduk – enemies are those who
do not worship Marduk – therefore non-Babylonians or those who oppose
- those who oppose Cyrus are seen as enemies of Marduk as well – Marduk
finds honour in Cyrus and therefore Cyrus’ enemies become Marduk’s – the
- king of Babylon is depicted as unfaithful to his god – therefore Cyrus, the
vassal of Marduk, must punish him
The Ionian Revolt
- takes place 499-494 B.C.
- Persian War was precipitated by this revolt
- revolt by Greek Ionians in the Persian Empire
- not uncommon – Egypt goes into revolt after the battle of Marathon
- fair amount is known about the Ionian revolt
- main source is Herodotus
- explains personal interests of the tyrant of Miletus – who instigates the revolt
- sack of Sardis by the Ionians in 498 B.C. – with Athenian help
- most Ionian cities were ruled by tyrants
- leader of the revolt was a tyrant – slightly strange that it is the one who
benefits from the Persian rule, who instigates this revolt
- Ionians march on Sardis in 498 B.C. – capital of the local satrapy – burn it to
- have help from two cities from the Greek mainland – Athens an