1st Edition

Cyrus the Great A Biography of Kingship

By Lynette Mitchell Copyright 2023
    206 Pages 19 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Cyrus the Great was a celebrity of the ancient world, the founder of one of the first world empires in the ancient Near East, whose life and deeds were celebrated through the many stories told about him, then and for millennia.

    This book offers an analysis of these stories, locating them within the rich storytelling cultures of the ancient Mediterranean and the Near East. Although there are few fixed points in Cyrus’ career, it is possible to see through these narratives the way his kingship developed so he became not just the instrument of the gods, but also their companion. Mitchell explores what these stories reveal about the different societies and cultures who engaged with the mythology surrounding Cyrus in order to examine their own conceptions of great men, leadership, kingship, and power. Such was his celebrity in antiquity that the stories about his kingship have remained influential over the course of two and a half thousand years into the modern era.

    Cyrus the Great: A Biography of Kingship is of interest to students and scholars studying the Achaemenids and ancient kingship, particularly as it is depicted in the literary and historical traditions of the ancient Near East, as well as those working on the Near Eastern world more generally. Scholars of Greek history in this period will also find much to interest them.

    1. Introduction; 2. Cyrus: A Near Eastern King; 3. Cyrus’ Birth Stories; 4. Cyrus and the Medes; 5. Cyrus as Cosmic Warrior; 6. Cyrus: An Exemplary Death; 7. Conclusion; Appendix A: Translation of the Cyrus Cylinder (Irving Finkle).


    Lynette Mitchell is Professor of Greek History and Politics at the University of Exeter, UK. She is the author of The Heroic Rulers of Archaic and Classical Greece, and edited with Charles Melville Every Inch a King: Comparative Studies on Kingship in the Ancient and Medieval Worlds.

    "A central merit of the book is the demonstration of the rich pool of storytelling that existed in the Near East [...] Out of it all Lynette Mitchell draws a fascinating story of a historical figure who became a legend. The result is an interesting, well-researched and inspiring book."Bryn Mawr Classical Review