I had heard the name Cyrus earlier, but must admit I did not know much about him. On this trip I learned three things that kindled my curiosity. The first was that it was probably him who decided to build Persepolis and where it should be around 520 BCE. The second was that he conquered and ruled over a huge empire from the Mediterranean to the Indus river.
The third was that he made a declaration that can be the first Declaration of Human Rights. It is part of a large inscription, the Cyrus cylinder, now in British Museum.
I find the text so interesting so here is an English translation (not the best translation I have seen).
“Now that I put the crowns of kingdoms of Persia, Babylon, and the nations of the four directions on my head with the help of God (Ahura Mazda), I announce that I will respect the traditions, customs and religions of the nations of my empire and never let any of my governors and subordinates look down on or insult them. From now on, till God grants me the kingdom favor, I will impose my monarchy on no nation. Each is free to accept it, and if any one rejects it, I will never resolve to war to reign. As long as I am king of Persia, Babylon and the nations of the four directions, I will never let anyone oppress any others, and if it occurs, I will give his or her rights back and penalize the oppressor.”
“And as long as I am the monarch, I will never let anyone take possession of movable or properties from others by force or without compensation. As long as I am alive I will prevent unpaid, forced labor. Today I announce that everyone is free to choose s religion. People are free to live in all religions and take up a job provided that they never violate the other’s rights.”
“No one should be penalized for his or her relatives’ faults. I prevent slavery, and my governors and subordinates are obliged to prohibit exchanging men and women as slaves within their domains where they rule. Such a tradition should be exterminated the world over.”
Note that he is mentioning women as well as men, and uses the words “his” and “her”, so it seems he gave women and men same rights.
Cyrus was also the king that let the Jews return from their Babylonian captivity.
Cyrus is said to have been personal hero to so different persons as Thomas Jefferson, sjah Reza Pahlavi, David Ben-Gurion and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, probably with different motives. I have problem seeing that Ben-Gurion and Ahmadinejad would agree on anything.
Cyrus the great The mausoleum for Cyrus at Pasargadae