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This page is part of the "tools" section of a site, Plato and his dialogues, dedicated to developing a new interpretation of Plato's dialogues. The "tools" section provides historical and geographical context (chronology, maps, entries on characters and locations) for Socrates, Plato and their time. For more information on the structure of entries and links available from them, read the notice at the beginning of the index of persons and locations.
Cambyses was the son and successor of Cyrus the Great.
He ruled the Persian Empire from the death of his father in 530 to his own death
in Ecbatane (Syria) in 522 while on his way back from Egypt with his army (see
Herodotus ' Histories at III,
62-66 for the story of Cambyses' death).
He continued the politic of expansion startd by his father Cyrus. First, he took part with his father to the conquest of Babylonia and was named king of Babylon after the capture of the city in 539. After becoming king of Persia, he conquered Egypt and was named Pharao in 526. But he had a repute of madness and despotism which led to palace struggles for the succession and, despite what Herodotus says, it is possible that he was in fact assassinated upon order of one of his brothers, Smerdis, which he himself tried to have assassinated.
The story of Cambyses is told by Herodotus in the first part of book III of his Histories (III, 1-38 and 61-66).
In the Laws, the Athenian stranger explains Cambyses character by the education he received at the hands of women while his father was waging war here and there (Laws, III, 694c-695b).
At his death, after a short period during which Smerdis assumed the leadership, more palace struggles led to the rise to the throne of Persia of Darius the Great, whose task it was to organise such a vast empire.