“[It was] better to set up a monarchy themselves than to suffer a sedition to continue that must certainly end in one.”

–Plutarch – c. 100 A.D

Darius I was the third ruler of the Persian Achaemenid Empire who is said to have ruled the empire at its peak. He ascended the throne after killing an alleged usurper named Gaumata who posed to be Bardiya, the rightful heir. Darius, who was the lance-bearer of the previous ruler Cambyses, along with six other noblemen, killed Gaumata in September 522, BCE.

The noblemen and Darius decided to set up a monarchy. It was agreed that they would gather outside the palace mounted on their horses at sunrise, and the man whose horse neighed first in recognition of the rising sun would become king. Darius had his slave run his hands on the genitals of a mare and when the six gathered, the slave placed his hands beside the nostrils of Darius’s horse, who became excited at the scent and neighed. Darius was crowned king the same morning.