How Did Xerxes Become King?

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Xerxes’ kingship after Darius was from 426BC to 465BC, his accession being a decision finalised by the previous king from a number of factors as evident in inscriptions, reliefs as well as accounts by the Greek historian, Herodotus. It was not straightforward that Xerxes’ would succeed his father, and the sources provide dates and insight that factor out possibilities which may have resulted in Darius’ final decision. Xerxes’ had several brothers both of half and of blood, including Artobazanes, Darius’ eldest son, and Ariamenes, also older than Xerxes; two of which had more significantly contested against him in the throne. Artobazanes was Darius’ apparent successor in 507BC, and when the decision was changed after time, argument broke out between supporters of Xerxes and that of Artobazanes over the succession. From the harem inscription by Xerxes’ himself, he states “other sons of Darius there were but…my father named me greatest after himself,” verifying for previous contenders for the throne as well as Darius naming Xerxes’ as his successor, but having not been the oldest potential heir. In Herodotus’ account, he references advice given by the ex-Spartan king, Demaratus, who pointed out to Darius that Xerxes was the first son born after his rise to power, while Artobazanes was born when he was still a commoner. This use of the Spartan method gave Xerxes advantaged claim to the throne, though other sources justify differently, stating that his better claim was a result of his position in the family tree as the son of Atossa and thus the grandson of Cyrus the Great. Xerxes’ sufficiency of imperial blood, in spite of the lack of regulations in determining who could succeed Persian kingship, led him to win against Artabazanes. Similarly, Ariamenes was also a brotherhood challenge to Xerxes’ succession, travelling from Bactria for contest. Offerings made by Xerxes’ and a promise in which Xerxes’ said “…if he be proclaimed king, you shall be the highest at his...
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