Cambyses II

530 - 523 B.C

    Cambyses II, who succeeded his father, Cyrus The Great, as king of Persia in 529 BC, extended his empire by conquering Egypt in 525. He is said to have murdered his brother Bardiya, and the Greek historian Herodotus claimed that he was insane. After the conquest of Egypt, a pretender claiming to be Bardiya seized the throne, and Cambyses either committed suicide or died accidentally in 522 while returning to Persia.

    Cambyses completed the conquest of Egypt and then resolved to vanquish the rest of Africa. To do this he had to march his troops out over unknown regions across the great Sahara desert. Here nature proved too powerful a foe for the fierce tyrant. He himself led an expedition to the southward; and its members almost all perished of starvation and thirst. Only a miserable remnant escaped the horrors of the sandy waste, struggling back exhausted to the Nile in the train of their raging sovereign.

    Disaster even more complete awaited another army which Cambyses dispatched westward over the sands toward Carthage. No survivor of the expedition ever reappeared. No trace of it was ever discovered. The Egyptian peasants reported that it had been overwhelmed by one of the terrific sand storms of the desert. The bewildered troops crouched helpless before the blinding hurricane of sand, until it drifted over the obstruction of their bodies and their camels, and piled above them enormous burial mounds-an army entombed beneath the desert.

    Cambyses left Egypt in despair, and died facing a rebellion among his own exasperated Persians. But so deep was the fear he had impressed upon the Egyptians that they made no effort to break the Persian rule; and so bitter was their hatred that they wrote in their books every possible form of evil and of cursing against Cambyses.



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