Darius the Great Lesson for Kids: Facts & Biography

Instructor: David Wilson

David has taught college history and holds an MA in history.

One of the most important rulers of the Persian Empire, Darius the Great sought to expand his territory into Greece. Learn about his achievements and legacy in this lesson.

Empire Builders

If you watch the news, you've heard lots of stories about the difficulties in the Middle East from Egypt to Iran. Do you think you could be in charge of this region? It's a big task, but 2500 years ago, one person ruled over this entire area and had to solve its problems. That's because the Middle East used to be part of a great area called the Persian Empire. Its most famous ruler, Darius the Great, ruled over the Persian Empire when it was at its greatest size and power.

Illustration of Darius
Darius image

Rocky Start

We know quite a bit about the life of Darius due to the Behistun Inscription, meaning writing. Darius ordered that his biography and his achievements be carved into the side of a mountain so that he would be remembered and respected. The Inscription states that Darius was the son of a noble in the Persian Empire, but not the son of the previous emperor. With the help of six other nobles, Darius managed to overthrow the emperor's son and become the new leader of Persia.

Behistun Inscription of Darius the Great
Darius stone carving

Growing Strong

At first, Darius had to spend time fighting rebellions to stay in control. When he had defeated his last enemies, he began to think about expanding his empire. Darius began by bringing parts of northern India into the Persian Empire. Next, he took his army into Scythia, the northern part of the Black Sea, an important area for trade.

When he had accomplished this, the Persian Empire was massive, stretching from Europe to the Indian Ocean. Darius may have ruled over as much as half of the world's population. He famously decorated his palace hall with images of happy people in the empire, rather than with images of war and conquest. However, he went one step too far by choosing to fight the Greeks.

Map of the Persian Empire
Persian Empire

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