Member of a collateral branch of the Achaemenid royal family, Darius apparently it was not near the throne when Cambyses died in 522 a. C. The story of the rise of Darius is told more fully by the Greek Herodotus, whose version clearly reflects the official account established by the order of Darius in the famous Behistun inscription.
According to Herodotus, Cambyses had executed his brother Smerdis (Bardiya), but while Cambyses was absent in Egypt, a wizard priest named Gaumata, relying on a casual resemblance, introduced himself as Smerdis and seized the throne. Cambyses undertook the return but died on the way, and the false Smerdis was generally accepted. Darius, with the help of a few who knew that Smerdis was dead, he assassinated Gaumata and restored the royal line in his own person.
Even if Darius He was an excellent soldier and extended his empire eastward, northward and into Europe, he saw himself as an organizer and legislator rather than a mere conqueror. Little of his work was surprisingly original, but the combination of old and new, and the interlocking order of the whole, gave importance to his work. He divided the empire into 20 large provinces called satraps, each under a ruler appointed by royalty called satrap who had administrative, military, financial and judicial control over his province. To control such powerful subordinates, Darius He also appointed the satrap’s second-in-command and asked him to report to the King separately. The permanent garrisons under independent satrap commanders were strategically stationed. However, since all of these officials were more or less permanent, the possibility remained that all three conspired to plan a revolt. Consequently, an additional group of royal officials, inspectors called the “eyes” or “ears” of the King, were frequently dispatched.
Given that in such a large empire – covering more than 2.5 million square kilometers – there was always the problem of communication and transportation; Darius established a well-maintained all-weather road system and a royal messaging system with regular posts and relays of horses and riders. A journey from Sardis in western Asia Minor to Susa in Persia normally took 3 months; a real message could cover it in a week. He also regulated tributes and instituted the first official Persian currency.
Militarily, the empire was organized in the satrapías system, but the results were less happy. Apart from the resident garrisons and the royal guard there was no standing army. When necessary, satraps were ordered to gather a quota of men and bring them, armed and ready, to a designated assembly point. Inevitably, the Persian army had large numbers of men but little uniformity; each contingent was armed and trained in its local style and spoke its mother tongue. The Persian infantry was generally of very poor quality; the cavalry, provided by the Persians, the Medes, and the eastern steppe dwellers, was generally quite good. The Persian fleet was armed in the same way as the army, but since all the maritime peoples of the Mediterranean copied each other, there were few problems of diversity. The weakness of the fleet was that, raised entirely among the subject peoples, it had no true loyalty.
The first European campaign of Darius, around 513, it was directed not to Greece but to the north towards the Danube. Herodotus recorded that Darius he intended to conquer the entire circuit of the Black Sea but the scorched earth policy of the Scythians returned him north of the Danube. This is possible, or it may be that he never intended a permanent conquest north of the Danube and that Herodotus turned a limited success into a grand failure so that all Persian operations in Europe would at least partially fail. Darius he secured approaches to Greece and control of the grain route across the Bosphorus.
The next act in the Greco-Persian drama was the so-called Lonian revolt (499-494), an uprising against Persia by the majority of the Greeks of Asia Minor led by the Ionians, and particularly by the city of Miletus. Although the revolt was put down by the generals of DariusIts seriousness is indicated by its length and by the fact that the Ionians’ appeal to the Greek homeland was answered, at least in part, by Athens and Eretria.
Darius he had to take the Greek matter seriously. Not only did he have a duty to avenge the burning of his city of Sardis during the revolt, but he must have convinced himself that to ensure the appeasement of his Greek subjects in Asia Minor, he would also have to extend his rule across the Aegean. After the collapse of the revolt, the attempt of his son-in-law, Mandonius, to bring the war to Greece ended when the Persian fleet was shipwrecked in a storm on Mount Athos (492).
Perhaps the unfortunate adventure of Mandonius was really an attempt to conquer all of Greece; the next effort certainly wasn’t. Darius he sent a naval expedition – he himself never laid eyes on Greece – only against Athens and Eretria (490). The attack was well known, but the Greeks had their usual difficulties of cooperation, and Eretria, without support, fell and was burned in revenge by Sardis. Athens appealed to the Greek states, but only 1,000 men from the little Plataea made it to Athens.
The Persians landed on the small plain of Marathon northeast of Athens, and the Greeks settled on nearby easily defensible hills out of reach of Persian cavalry. After a few days of waiting, the Persians began to re-embark, perhaps to rush to Athens. The Greeks, led by Miltiades, were forced to attack, which they did with an elongated front to avoid the encirclement of the most numerous Persians. In this first major encounter between the European and Asian infantry, the heavily armed and closely knit Greek phalanx won decisively. The surviving Persians immediately sailed for Athens, but Miltiades hastened his forces back, and the Persians arrived to see the Greeks lined up in front of the city. Abandoning the action, they sailed home and the Marathon campaign ended.
Although for the Western world the Marathon was a hugely important victory, for the Persians it was only a moderately serious border setback. However, this defeat and peace in Asia Minor demanded the conquest of all Greece, and Darius began the mighty preparations. However, a revolt in Egypt distracted him and he died in 486, leaving the next attack to his son Xerxes.