Dariush-e-Bozorg (Modern Persian) “Darius the Great” (ca. 549 BC– 486/485 BC; (Old Persian Darayawauš: “He Who Holds Firm the Good”), was the son of Hystaspes, and Persian Emperor from 521 BC to 486/485 BC.
He succeeded to the throne after the fall of the impostor claiming to be Bardia ‘Smerdis’. The first years of his reign were spent in putting down revolts in Persia, Media, Babylonia, and the East. He then proved himself the true successor of Cyrus the Great and one of the most able of the Achaemenids by revising and increasing Cyrus’ use of the satrapies.
Many building projects were initiated during the reign of Darius, with the largest being the building of the new capital of Persepolis. Pasargadae was too well associated with the previous dynasty of Kourosh-e-Kabir ‘Cyrus the Great’ and Kambujiyeh ‘Cambyses’ and so Darius sought a new capital. The city would have walls sixty feet high and thirty-three feet thick and would be an enormous engineering undertaking.
Darius’ tomb was cut into a rock face not far from the city. He dug a canal from the Nile to Suez, and, as the fragments of a hieroglyphic inscription found there show, his ships sailed from the Nile through the Red Sea by Saba to Persia. Darius also commissioned the extensive road network that was built all over the country. The Persepolis Tablets mention a ‘royal road’ from Susa to Persepolis and from Sardis to Susa built by Darius. It was highly organized with rest stations, guarded garrisons, inns and apparently no bandits. Darius is also remembered for his Behistun Inscription which was chiseled into the rock face near the town of Behistun. It showed Darius’ successful ascension to the throne and described Darius’ legitimacy to be king.
Darius is often renowned above all as being a great financier. He fixed the coinage and introduced the golden Daric. He developed commerce within the empire and trade without. For example, he sent an expedition down the Kabul and Indus Rivers, led by the Carian captain Scylax of Caryanda, who explored the Indian Ocean from the mouth of the Indus to Suez. During his reign, the population increased and industries flourished in towns.
I. A great god is Ahuramazda, who created this earth, who created yonder sky, who created man, who created happiness for man, who made Darius king, one king of many, one lord of many.
II. I am Darius the Great King, King of Kings, King of countries containing all kinds of men, King in this great earth far and wide, son of Hystaspes, an Achaemenian, a Persian, son of a Persian, an Aryan, having Aryan lineage.
III. Darius the King says: By the favor of Ahuramazda these are the countries which I seized outside of Persia; I ruled over them; they bore tribute to me; what was said to them by me, that they did; my law — that held them firm; Media, Elam, Parthia, Aria, Bactria, Sogdiana, Chorasmia, Drangiana, Arachosia, Sattagydia, Gandara, Sind, Amyrgian Scythians, Scythians with pointed caps, Babylonia, Assyria, Arabia, Egypt, Armenia, Cappadocia, Sardis, Ionia, Scythians who are across the sea, Skudra, petasos-wearing Ionians, Libyans, Ethiopians, men of Maka, Carians.
IV. Darius the King says: Ahuramazda, when he saw this earth in commotion, thereafter bestowed it upon me, made me king; I am king. By the favor of Ahuramazda I put it down in its place; what I said to them, that they did, as was my desire. If now you shall think that “How many are the countries which King Darius held?” look at the sculptures (of those) who bear the throne, then shall you know, then shall it become known to you: the spear of a Persian man has gone forth far; then shall it become known to you: a Persian man has delivered battle far indeed from Persia.
V. Darius the King says: This which has been done, all that by the will of Ahuramazda I did. Ahuramazda bore me aid, until I did the work. May Ahuramazda protect me from harm, and my royal house, and this land: this I pray of Ahuramazda, this may Ahuramazda give to me!
VI. O man, that which is the command of Ahuramazda, let this not seem repugnant to you; do not leave the right path; do not rise in rebellion!