Fierce Facts About Cyrus The Great, King Of The Persian Empire

Before Julius Caesar or Alexander the Great, there was Cyrus the Great. The king of the Persian Empire inspired several leaders for centuries to come, including Founding Father Thomas Jefferson. But despite his legendary status, few people today know about Cyrus the Great’s history.

Not only did Cyrus establish the Achaemenid dynasty, but he also implemented rules and structures that guided empires centuries later. He was such a cunning leader that he defeated the Lydian Empire with camels alone. Read these incredible facts about Cyrus the Great, and you’ll pick a new favorite emperor.

The Strange Myth Of Cyrus’s Childhood

The Boy Cyrus Playing the King', portraying Cyrus II, founder of the Achaemenid Empire, the first Persian Empire.
The Print Collector/Heritage Images via Getty Images
The Print Collector/Heritage Images via Getty Images

The Greek writer Herodotus recorded a peculiar legend about Cyrus the Great’s childhood. According to the story, Cyrus’s grandfather, King Astyages of Medes, dreamed of his coming. He dreamed that Cyrus would one day overthrow him, and so ordered that he would set out to kill him.

Of course, Cyrus the Great survived. He returned to Medes and challenged Astyages to a duel, which he won. This story is only a legend and has little historical backing apart from Herodotus’s account. But it’s still a fun story and an epic beginning to Cyrus’s reign.