ThePersian Empire is not well known in the West. The first "world empire" however left a priceless legacy, shaped by brilliant monarchs like Cyrus the Great or Darius. Stretched from the Danube to the Indus, it was almost as big as that of Alexander, Greece less. The exciting June issue of the monthly L'Histoire is devoted to this invisible empire.
For a long time it was an invisible empire. If he had made history, it was through Greek sources: Herodotus of course, born in 484 BC. AD (two years after the death of Darius) in Halicarnassus, a city in Asia Minor under Persian rule. Continuing his investigation into the roots of a Median empire (which never existed), the brilliant traveler-historian traveled to Egypt, collecting testimonies, and bequeathed some of the most precious pages to us about the region.
A little later, Xenophon, a Greek mercenary engaged in the struggles of succession of the empire on the side of Cyrus, had the genius to transform into an epic the return journey (YAnabase) which made him bring his 10,000 men back to the shores held by the Greeks. It was very little. Ultimately, from the Greek, that is, Western point of view, the East of the King of Kings remained a sleeping world, a "pre-Hellenic" world that would not truly come to life again with the arrival ofAlexander.
The Persia of the King of Kings: to the mythical origins of Iran. Magazine L'Histoire, June 2019. On newsstands and by subscription.