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Lessons from the 'Last Will of Darius the Great'

Updated: Jun 14


History never repeats itself, but it certainly rhymes.

Situations change but fundamental principles rarely do.

Many important lessons have been provided throughout history that guide leaders aspiring to make their Society and Nation great. If only we had leaders possessing the character and the willingness to learn.


Fortunately, such leaders have once again begun to emerge in some countries onto the world stage. Their people will prosper.


 

The reign of Darius the Great marked the zenith of the Persian Empire.

A federal empire where (nations) states were ruled by smaller local kings under the Shahan-Shah (King of Kings).


Darius worked relentlessly on building institutions and infrastructure, incorporating systems, and protecting the rights and liberty of the people in the empire.


Darius was noble and just.

Under his rule of a strong central government that valued the rights of all people culturally diverse people prospered. It respected the culture, language and religion of constituent nations.

Darius believed in justice and ensured the weak should have no wrong done to them by the mighty.


Darius was a nation-builder.

He built many roads, ports, banking houses, elaborate underground irrigation systems and a canal to link the Nile to the Red Sea (an early precursor of the Suez Canal).


Darius's introduction of common coinage the 'Darik' on a massive scale coupled with standardization of weights and measures and the codification of commercial laws, stimulated world trade and elevated the Persian Empire's economy to very high levels of prosperity.


Darius constructed the world's longest 'Royal Road' (2400 km). He developed the world's leading communications network. An efficient system of relays ensured that postmen could traverse the entire length of the road in six to nine days, which normally took 90 days.


Reproduced here is the last will and testament of Darius The Great who ruled Persia (522 B.C. to 486 B.C):


“As I am about to depart this world, you have twelve koroure in gold in the royal treasury; this gold is one of the pillars of your power. A king's power is not just dependent on the sword, but on wealth as well. Remember that you must add to this treasury and not diminish it. I am not suggesting that under dire circumstances, you should not take gold out of it, as the rule for this treasury gold is that it must be used when necessary, but at the first chance, return what you have taken to the treasury.


I am indebted to your mother Atousa, so you must, at all times, ensure her happiness and peace of mind.”


“For ten years, I have been busy building grain silos all around the country. I learned the method of building these cone-like stone structures in Egypt, and since the silos are intermittently emptied, insects do not thrive there and grain can be stored in these silos for several years without rotting. And you must continue the work of building these silos until the time when they can hold two to three years' reserve for the whole country. And each year, after the harvest, use the stored grain to eliminate shortages and replenish the silos after harvesting and this way, you shall never worry about foodstuff in this country, even if you face two or three years of drought.”


“Never appoint your friends, or intimate servants to governmental posts, since for them the privilege of your friendship should suffice. If you appoint your friends and servants to governmental posts, and they inflict injustice on the people and abuse their position, you will be unable to punish them, since they are your friends, and you must bear in mind this friendship.”


“The canal I wanted to build between the Nile and the Red Sea is not yet finished, and finishing this waterway is very important from the perspective of the military and commerce. You must finish this canal, and the fees for passage of ships must not be so steep that captains will prefer avoiding it.”


“I have sent an army to Egypt with the task of bringing law and order to that land; I still have not had the chance to send a force to Greece. You must finish this work. Attack the Greeks with a powerful army, and make the Greeks understand that the Persian king has the power to punish those who commit atrocities.”


“My other recommendation to you is that you should never allow sycophants and liars in your entourage, since they are both plagues to monarchies; you should ruthlessly turn away all liars.”


“Never allow government bureaucrats to have dominion over the populace; in order to prevent such domination, I have passed tax laws, and limited the contacts between the people and bureaucrats; if you preserve these laws, the contacts between the people and government officials will be minimal.”


“Keep officers and soldiers of your army content, and never mistreat them. If you mistreat them, they cannot respond in kind, but instead, they will take their revenge in the theatre of war, even if such revenge costs them their lives; their revenge will take the shape of inaction and surrender, and through this they prepare the ground for your defeat.”


“Continue the education reforms that I began, and allow your subjects to learn how to read and write and increase their intelligence; the more intelligent they are, the more you can rule with an easy mind. Always defend the faith of worshipping Yazdan, but never force any group to follow your faith, and always bear in mind that everyone should be free to pursue whatever faith he or she desires.”


“When I bid farewell to life, wash my body, and enwrap me in the shroud I have prepared, and put me in a coffin made of stone and place me in my grave. But do not cover my grave, thus allowing yourself the chance to occasionally come to the tomb and see my stone coffin, and remind yourself that there lies my father, a man who authoritatively ruled over twenty five countries, and now he is dead, and I too shall one day die like him.”


“It is human fate to die, and it makes no difference whether you are a king of twenty-five countries or a poor wood-gatherer, and no one remains eternally in this world. If you do not visit my tomb every time you have a chance and see my coffin, pride and selfishness will overcome you, but when you are near your death, order them to close my grave, and then in your will, ask your son to keep your grave open so that he can see the coffin holding your body.”


“Never, never be a judge and a prosecutor in the same case, and if you have a claim against someone, ask an impartial judge to adjudicate the case, and issue a judgment. Since if someone who is the claimant is also the judge, he will invariably commit injustice.”


“Never cease the work of developing the country. If you cease the work of development, the country will inexorably fall into a state of disarray. It is a rule that a country that is not improving falls into desolation. In the work of developing, the construction of new aqueducts. (ghanats), the building of new roads and the establishment of cities must be given top priority.”


“Never forget forgiveness and generosity and know that after justice, the highest quality for a king is forgiveness and generosity. But mercy must be offered when the injustice has been committed against you; if the offender has committed an injustice against someone else and you pardon the crime, you have committed an injustice yourself, for you have ignored someone else's rights.”


“I will say no more. I have made these statements in front of those who are now, in your absence, in attendance; I want them to know that I have made these suggestions before my death, and now to leave me alone, as I feel the hour of my death is near...

~ King Darius



 

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2 Comments


Looks like that he wrote a book on what needs to be done as a king. Moreover, in the WILL, it is not addressed as 'you', without naming the addressy. Did he have only one son, to whom the WILL was addressed. If truly he was so humble a person, he would have signed only as Darius, and not, as King Darius.

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Great ! I never knew that such a king existed on this earth.

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