The Political Thought of Darius the Great (522- 486 B.C.), the Legislator of Achaemenid Empire (A Study Based on Achaemenid Inscriptions in Old Persian)

Document Type : Original Article


Darius offered the political order of “king of kings” to solve the political crisis of his era. He legitimized it based on an order of gods. In his belief, the nature of politics was based on a dualistic religious worldview that is the fight between true divinity and false divinity’s will and performance in the world. In addition, the chief true divinity’s law was introduced as the principle order in the world and eternal happiness in true divinity’s house. Therefore, it was considered as the pattern of political order following which was propagandized as the way to reach happiness in this world and salvation in next  life. To protect this law, the chief true divinity bestowed the political power to the ruler. Therefore, what should be the political order and who should be the ruler, is justified in the context of the definitions of human, world, happiness and salvation. The sovereignty of the ruler and, therefore, the domination of the chief true divinity’s laws in politics were considered as justice. This definition of justice denied liberty and promoted absolutism. In justifying the ruler’s absolute power, even his laws and commands were considered as the dominant norms over the politics. The principal motif for the Achaemenid ruler to consider him the gods’ attributes originates from the historical competitions between warriors and priests. The Achaemenid ruler was belonged to the group of warriors. Since the historical trend of achieving the political ruling by the Aryan warriors was based on force and power, they could not legitimize their ruling without considering people’s religious worldview. The Aryan priests claimed that they had the ability to communicate with gods and observe the rules created by the legislator god. Therefore, the Achaemenid king-warriors tried to enhance their spiritual status by calling themselves as selected persons and gods’ representatives on earth. Therefore, they considered gods’ attributes, such as wisdom, legislation and absolute power for themselves. However, due to the Achaemenid ruler’s worldview and the divine right of ruling, this claim had no influence in changing the nature of politics from a sacred basis to a secular one.