6.2 The “Cyrus Cylinder” and the “Book of Ezra”
Exercise: Find examples of Cyrus’s attitudes of religious tolerance in these documents. In 1-2 double-spaced typed pages, explain how this and other policies of tolerance helped solidify Cyrus’s power.
Cyrus the Great was the ruler and creator of the Persian Empire from 539 BCE to 530 BCE. During his rule, he gave a royal proclamation known as the “Cyrus Cylinder” because it was written on a clay cylinder. This proclamation was a peace treaty and a record of his military victory of the Persian Empire. In this, he described some of the ways he was able to acquire and rule over more land without much opposition.
The main way Cyrus solidified his power was tolerance. There are many examples of how he showed his tolerance throughout the “Cyrus Cylinder” and the “Book of Ezra.” For example, when he wrote, “When I entered Babylon as a friend…” he shows that his intentions were to be a good ruler, not to force others into new beliefs. Two other examples of his religious tolerance are shown through his writings: “I also gathered all their former inhabitants and returned them to their habitations,” and, “…had brought into Babylon to the anger of the lord of the gods, unharmed, in their formal temples, the places which make them happy.” This shows that Cyrus wanted to be a fair leader by tolerating other practices than just his own. This is also confirmed in the book of Ezra when it is said that, “…the...