Cyrus the Great: A Biography of Kingship

Mitchell, Lynette. 2023. Cyrus the Great: A biography of kingship. New York: Routledge.

Cyrus the Great was a celebrity of the ancient world, the founder of one of the first world empires in the ancient Near East, whose life and deeds were celebrated through the many stories told about him, then and for millennia.

This book offers an analysis of these stories, locating them within the rich storytelling cultures of the ancient Mediterranean and the Near East. Although there are few fixed points in Cyrus’ career, it is possible to see through these narratives the way his kingship developed so he became not just the instrument of the gods, but also their companion. Mitchell explores what these stories reveal about the different societies and cultures who engaged with the mythology surrounding Cyrus in order to examine their own conceptions of great men, leadership, kingship, and power. Such was his celebrity in antiquity that the stories about his kingship have remained influential over the course of two and a half thousand years into the modern era.

Table of contents:

Introduction; 2. Cyrus: A Near Eastern King; 3. Cyrus’ Birth Stories; 4. Cyrus and the Medes; 5. Cyrus as Cosmic Warrior; 6. Cyrus: An Exemplary Death; 7. Conclusion; Appendix A: Translation of the Cyrus Cylinder (Irving Finkle).