Son of Hystaspes, member of Achaemenid (royal) clan
Heir after deaths of Cambyses and Smerdis, sons of
Cyrus the Great
Conspired with Otanes to murder the false Smerdis
Won the kingship through his horse
The first rider whose horse neighed would be king
His groom fixed matters so that Darius’ horse neighed first
Conquered north eastern India
Fought a war unsuccessfully against the nomadic Scythians of central
The Ionian Revolt
During his reign the Ionian Greek cities and islands revolted against
The Milesians and the Athenians burned Sardis
Darius’ reaction: “Laying aside all thought concerning the
Ionians, who would, he was sure, pay dear for their rebellion, he asked
who the Athenians were and, being informed, called for his bow, and
placing an arrow on the string, shot upward into the sky, saying, as
he let fly the shaft, ‘Grant me, Zeus, to revenge myself on the
Athenians!’ After this speech, he bade one of his servants every
day, when his dinner was spread, three times repeat these words to him,
‘Master, remember the Athenians.’”
The city of Miletos and the island of Samos were totally destroyed,
all the men killed and women and children sold into slavery
The First Persian War 492-90 B.C.
Darius did not personally lead an invasion against
Greece. His generals, Datis (a Mede), and Artaphernes, his nephew, led
There was an earlier and unsuccessful attempt to invade Greece led by
Mardonius, Darius’ son-in-law, that floundered off Mt. Athos.
The Persian army was assisted by an Athenian traitor, Hippias, the son
of the tyrant, Peisistratus.
The climactic battle of the First Persian War was at Marathon:
The Athenians were led by Miltiades.
The Olympic victor in the stade (the sprint), Philippides,
ran to Sparta to ask their help in the battle. They refused because
the moon was not yet full. Philippides ran back to Marathon in time
to fight in the battle.
Then, Philippides ran to Athens to announce the victory at Marathon,
collapsing and dying after gasping out “We have won.” The
modern marathon race is named after his achievement.
Father of three sons, including first-born son, Artabazanes,
by first wife, daughter of Gobryas.
Father of four children by Atossa, daughter of Cyrus the Great. His
eldest son by her was Xerxes.
Darius died a natural death after ruling Persia for thirty-six years.
When he died he was preparing an invasion of Greece to avenge the loss