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Sunday, January 29, 2017

031 - Cyrus the Great



In this episode, we discuss Cyrus' conquests of the Lydian kingdom, the Greek city-states in western Anatolia, the nomadic step-tribes of central Asia, and the Neo-Babylonian Empire; the contingents and battle tactics of his multi-ethnic military; the administration of his multi-state empire that stretched from Anatolia in the west to the northwestern regions of India in the east; and his other deeds and qualities that were deemed to be so exceptional by later historians that he earned the moniker "the Great"

560-546 BC - The reign of Lydian king, Croesus
559-530 BC - The reign of Persian king, Cyrus II
556-539 BC - The reign of Babylonian king, Nabonidus
550 BC - Cyrus overthrows the Medes, beginning the Achaemenid Persian Empire
Winter 548/7 BC - After consulting the Delphic oracle, Croesus was convinced that he should attack Cyrus to eliminate the Persian threat and so he enters into an alliance with the Spartans, alongside his other allies in the Babylonians and the Egyptians
Fall 547 BC - Battle of Pteria between the forces of Croesus and Cyrus resulted in stalemate; Croesus returns to Sardis and calls his allies for reinforcement
Winter 547/6 BC - Cyrus surprised Croesus and marched into Anatolia; in the Battle of Thymbra, the Lydians were defeated and the Persians took Sardis; Croesus was to be executed on a burning pyre but Cyrus gave him clemency at the last minute
Fall 546 BC - The Temple of Apollo burned to the ground (seen as highly symbolic)
545 BC - Cyrus left behind a satrap (governor) and military garrison at Sardis and led his army back to Ecbatana; along the way, the Lydians revolted (with the help of many Ionian poleis), so Cyrus dispatched his most senior generals to put down the revolt
545-542 BC - The Persian general Harpagos led an assault on the Greek poleis of the Anatolian coastline; all either submitted willingly, were defeated in battle and then submitted, or fled westwards; the Asiatic Greeks were now Persian subjects
545-539 BC - Cyrus campaigned against nomadic step-tribes of central Asia
Fall 539 BC - Cyrus defeated Babylonian forces at Opis; then he marched his army onto Babylon and stormed the city; all of Babylonia fell under Persian control; Cyrus appointed his eldest son and heir, Cambyses II, as satrap of Babylon
530 BC - Cyrus died while campaigning in the far northeast against the Massagetai


Primary Sources:


Monday, January 23, 2017

030 - Herodotus and the Rise of Persia



In this episode, we discuss the life, influences, drawbacks, and positives of the “Father of History”, Herodotus; and the political events of the Near East in the 7th and early 6th centuries BC, including the rise of the Medians and Neo-Babylonians and their destruction of the Assyrian Empire, and culminating with a young vassal king from Anshan, named Cyrus, who overthrew the Medes and elevated the Achaemenid Persians among the other chief powers of the time (the Lydians, the Neo-Babylonians, and the Egyptians)

ca. 1000 BC - The Scythians, Cimmerians, Parthians, Medes, and Persians (as part of the Indo-European migrations) arrive on the Iranian Plateau
ca. 725 BC - Sargon II of Assyria receives tribute from the tribes of the Zagros Mountains (included on the list are the Medes)
708-686 BC - The reign of first Median king, Deiokes
705-675 BC - The reign of first Persian king, Achaemenes
686-633 BC - The reign of Median king, Phraortes; the Parthians and Persians fall under Median control and become their "vassals"
675-640 BC - The reign of Persian king, Tespis
646 BC - Assyrian king Ashurbanipal destroys the Elamites
640-580 BC - The reign of the Persian king, Cyrus I
633 BC - Median king Phrarotes dies in battle; the Scythians begin to dominate Media
627 BC - The death of the Assyrian king, Ashurbanipal
626 BC - Nabopolassar and Babylon revolt from the Assyrian Empire and establish a new ruling dynasty (known as the Neo-Babylonians)
626-605 BC - The reign of Babylonian king, Nabopolassar
625 BC - Cyaxerxes overthrows Scythians, re-establishes Median control over the Zagros
625-585 BC - The reign of Median king, Cyaxerxes
614 BC - Medes and Babylonians sack Ashur; Median princess Amytis is married to the crowned prince of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar II, uniting the two kingdoms
612 BC - Ninevah falls, singaling the end of the Assyrian Empire
605 BC - Naboplassar dies, succeeded by his son Nebuchadnezzar II to Babylonian throne
605-562 BC - The reign of Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar II
600-585 BC - Cyaxerxes wages war against Urartians and Lydians
585 BC - Battle of Halys River; result was a tie due to an eclipse predicted by Thales; shortly after the battle, Cyaxerxes dies and is succeeded by his son, Astyages
585-550 - The reign of Median king, Astyages
580-559 BC - The reign of Persian king, Cambyses I
580 BC - Plagued by visions that his grandson would be his ruin, Astyages marries his daughter, Mandane, to a minor vassal---the Persian king, Cambyses I
576 BC - Mandane gives birth to Cyrus II; Astyages had another vision of his ruin and orders the child to be killed but his general Harpagus choses not to do it himself and delegates the job to a shepherd who instead raises the kid as his own
566 BC - The 10-year-old Cyrus is discovered and sent to live with his real parents
559 BC - Cambyses dies and the 17-year-old Cyrus becomes king of Persia
552 BC - Cyrus leads a revolt against his grandfather, Astyages; at the Battle of Hyrba, while leading the Persian cavalry, he trounces the Median cavalry
551 BC - An indecisive Battle of the Persian Border between forces of Astyages and Cyrus
550 BC - The Battle of Pasargadae saw Cyrus routing Astyages' army and becoming sole ruler of the Iranian Plateau; beginning of the Achaemenid Persian Empire


Primary Sources:


Sunday, January 15, 2017

029 - The First Greco-Punic War



In this episode, part 2 of 2 on the Greco-Etruscan-Carthaginian relations during the 6th/5th centuries BC, we discuss the tyrannies that arose and fell in Sicily in the first half of the 5th century BC at Rhegium/Zancle (Messana), Himera, Syracuse, Gela, and Akragas; the First Greco-Punic War and its aftermath/legacy; the decline of Etruscan power in Campania; the changes in the Carthaginian constitution following the war; and finally, the sea explorations of Himilco (northwest Europe) and Hanno the Navigator (western Africa)

507 BC - Cleander becomes tyrant of Gela
498 BC - Cleander dies and his son, Hippocrates, succeeds him as tyrant of Gela
494 BC - Samian fugitives (following their failed revolt against Persia) flee westwards and seize the city of Zancle (Messana) at the behest of Anaxillas, the tyrant of Rhegium
491 BC - Anaxillas changes his mind and kicks the Samians out of Zancle, repopulates the city, and rules as tyrant over it along with Rhegium
491 BC - Hippocrates dies and Gelon overthrows his sons to become tyrant of Gela
488 BC - Theron becomes tyrant of Akragas
485 BC - The Syracusan people force the Gamori (their aristocratic class) out of the city; they seek assistance from Gelon who uses his military to take Syracuse for himself; Gelon then makes himself tyrant of Syracuse and his brother, Hieron, takes over as tyrant of Gela
483 BC - Gelon forcibly removes the inhabitants of Kamarina and Megara Hyblaea to Syracuse; Gelon and Theron make an alliance
481/0 BC - Representatives from Athens arrive at the court of Gelon, seeking aid in their upcoming clash with Persia, but Gelon declines
480 BC - The Greek forces of Himera, Akragas, Syracuse, and Gela (all led by Gelon) defeat Hamilcar and Carthaginians in the Battle of Himera (Hamilcar loses his life); in commemoration, a Temple of Victory is built at Himera and afterwards Gelon and Akragas begin to beautify Syracuse and Akragas with new monuments of their own
478 BC - Gelon dies and his brother, Hieron, becomes tyrant of Syracuse; their brother, Polyzalos, takes over as tyrant of Gela
476 BC - Anaxillas dies and Micythus acts as regent tyrant of Rhegium
474 BC - Hieron and Cumaean Greeks defeat the Etruscans in a naval battle near Cumae; Etruscan power effectively eliminated in Campania (relegated to north Tyrrhenian Sea)
473 BC - Rhegians and Tarentines are defeated by Iapygians
472 BC - Theron dies and his son, Thrasydaeus, becomes tyrant of Akragas
471 BC - Thrasydaeus tries to attack Hieron but is routed in battle and forced to flee to Megara, where he was arrested and publicly executed; Micythus founds colony of Pyxus
467 BC - The two young sons of Anaxillas retake the throne of Rhegium; Micythus steps down peacefully; Hieron dies and his brother, Thrasybolous, becomes tyrant of Syracuse
466 BC - Thrasybolous was ousted as tyrant of Syracuse
461 BC - Leophron was ousted as tyrant of Rhegium and Zancle
ca. 460 BC - The Sicilian Greek cities had all broken away from the dominions of Gelon and Theron and had overthrown the tyrants’ heirs


Sunday, January 8, 2017

028 - The Rise of Carthage



In this episode, part 1 of 2 on the Greco-Etruscan-Carthaginian relations during the 6th/5th centuries BC, we discuss Carthage's foundation myths and early history as just another Phoenician colony, Tyre's decline and Carthage's rise as the dominant economic superpower in the western Mediterranean, the alliance between the Carthaginians and Etruscans against the western Greeks, and the Battle of Alalia and its aftermath

814 BC - The traditional foundation date of Carthage
ca. 650 BC - Carthage had grown to become a regional trade hub, centered on the north-south trading circuit of the Tyrrhenian Sea and west-east Levantine-Iberian circuit
586-573 BC - The Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar II, sieges Tyre; this wrecked havoc on Phoenician trade presence in the west, which allowed Carthage to step into the vacuum and rise to economic superpower in the western Mediterranean
ca. 580 BC - The Carthaginians and Elymians of Segesta engage in military hostilities with Greek colonists who try to colonize the land opposite of Motya; fearing future hostilities, the Carthaginians formed a military alliance with the powerful Etruscans of central Italy
ca. 560 BC - the Carthaginian general, Malchus, "conquers" Motya, Panormus, and Solus
ca. 550-530 BC - Mago was "king" of Carthage
ca. 535 BC - Battle of Alalia took place off coast of Corsica, in which the Phocaeans (who had fled westwards after Persia took their city) were completely expelled from the island by the Carthaginians and Etruscans; Corsica fell under Etruscan control
ca. 535-510 BC - 25-year war to pacify the island of Sardinia for Carthage
ca. 530-510 BC - Hasdrubal was "king" of Carthage
ca. 530 BC - Tartessos and Gades are brought to heel; Carthage controls southern Spain
ca. 525 BC - Phoenicians refuse to sail against their kinfolk and thus the plans of the Persian king, Cambyses, to conquer Carthage are thwarted
524 BC - The Etruscans are defeated outside of Cumae by the Cumaean Greeks, who reasserted their power in Campania, while lessening that of the Etruscans 
515 BC - Dorieus, angry that Cleomenes took over the Spartan throne, leaves Sparta and attempts to colonize Cinyps in north Africa but is expelled by Carthage
512 BC - Doreius again tries to colonize, this time at Eryx in Sicily but is once again stopped by Carthage and this time he loses his life
ca. 510-480 BC - Hamilcar was "king" of Carthage
509 BC - Etruscan power is further diminished in central Italy, when Rome overthrows their yoke, abolishing their monarchy and establishing the Roman Republic; Carthage and Rome become commercial allies by signing a treaty
ca. 500 BC - By this point, Carthage had gained control over the north African coastline from modern-day Morocco to the border of Cyrene