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The Persian Empire, c.550-330 BC

3. Cyrus the Great

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In this module, we concentrate on the founder of the Persian Empire, Cyrus the Great, focusing in particular on: (i) his background; (ii) his conquests: Media (553-50 BC), Lydia (547 BC), and the neo-Babylonian Empire (539 BC); (iii) the description of his conquest of Babylon in the Cyrus Cylinder; (iv) the presentation of Cyrus in the Hebrew Bible.


In this course, Professor Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones (University of Cardiff) presents the Persian Empire through non-Greek sources including Persian art and architecture, sculpture and epigraphy, and parts of the Hebrew Bible. In the first module, we think about the nature of the Persian Empire itself, focusing in particular on the depiction conquered peoples in various Persian sources. After that, we think about who the Persian actually were, where they came from, and the importance of nomadism to Persian culture and society even in the fifth century BC. In the third module, we focus on the figure of Cyrus the Great, including his self-presentation in the Cyrus Cylinder and his depiction in the Hebrew Bible, before turning in the fourth module to the reign of Darius the Great and his self-presentation in the Bisitun Inscription. In the fifth module, we think about how differently Xerxes is presented in the Persian sources compared to the Greek sources, before turning in sixth and final module to consider what we can know about the lives of women in Persian society given their relative lack of representation in the ancient sources.


Professor Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones is Professor of Ancient History at the University of Cardiff. His research interests include Greek socio-cultural history, especially women's history and gender-issues, dress, and visual culture, and ancient Persia, especially the history and culture of the Achaemenid period (559-331 BC). Recent publications include Ctesias' History of Persia: Tales of the Orient and King and Court in Ancient Persia (2010) and King and Court in Ancient Persia 559-331 BCE (2013).

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APA style

Llewellyn-Jones, L. (2020, February 10). The Persian Empire, c.550-330 BC - Cyrus the Great [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Llewellyn-Jones, L. "The Persian Empire, c.550-330 BC – Cyrus the Great." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 10 Feb 2020,

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