March 7, 2013

24 - Cyrus the Great

"O man, whoever you are and wherever you come from, for I know you will come, I am Cyrus who won the Persians their empire. Do not therefore begrudge me this bit of earth that covers my bones."
Epitaph of Cyrus from Plutarch's: The Life of Alexander
In this recently uncovered 4th century pixel art, we see a young prince Cyrus battling his grandfather Astyages for control of the kingdom. Gosh, things were so lifelike back then!
(source: Prince of Persia THE ORIGINAL OF COURSE)

We're mooooving right along with our next exciting chapter of podcast history! As we take a look at Cyrus' great life (see what I did there) you'll be sure to notice a theme in his birth - very similar to other kings like Oedipus and Romulus. Not that Cyrus is legendary mind you, but when the details of your birth are a bit of a mystery, you get to spread some pretty cool rumors and get away with it!

MP3 Download

Music Credits
Artist unknown! All I know it's a sample called KCD104.wav but it sounds like it came from a record. I hate using copyright risky music, but I love this sound so much!

The four great empires post-Assyria
So you want to learn Old Persian? Harvard's got just what you need!
Myson Amphora - depicting Croesus about to be immolated
Great essay on Lydian coinage with a fantastically clear photo of an early Lydian gold coin.
Ooo neat Cyrus woodcuts!
The Cyrus Cylinder - a nice article from the Iran Chamber Society

~~~ The Cyrus Cylinder is coming to the US for 2013! ~~~

Cyrus' tomb: still standing today!
Engineering an Empire : The Persians (one of the BEST History Channel shows ever)

Queen Tomyris (Tahm-Rayish)
A very popular motif in art! Although I think her status as warlord is lessened a bit when she's made to wear an oversized poofy medieval dress.
Andrea del Castagno
Head of Cyrus Brought to Queen Tomyris - Peter Paul Rubens
The Revenge of Tomyris - Michiel Coxcie ($78,000? A steal!)
Tomyris - Alexander Zick (yeah! on the battlefield!)
Tomyris Medieval Woodcut (Johannes Zainer?) totally anachronistic but love it!


  1. Hi, how do you spell the name of the tribe that's purported to have killed Cyrus? Masagatai? I'd love to learn more about them.

    1. Hey James, so the tribe can either be spelled Massagetae or Massagetai. You're not gonna find a tremendous amount of information on them (much of it is all coming from our buddy Herodotus) but if you search just for "Getae" or "Getai" you will find many more details. The Massa prefix means "great" and while the tribe that killed Cyrus lived around the eastern Caspian Sea, the prefixless Getae lived in Thrace.
      I also wish you the best in your upcoming studies! Let me know if you find anything neat on them!