Xerxes

Topics: Achaemenid Empire, Battle of Thermopylae, Darius I of Persia Pages: 13 (4078 words) Published: September 5, 2013
Family Background and status
Xerxes was born a royal prince and would have had all the respect and prestige associated with his status. He was not the eldest son of King Darius I. Darius had three sons by another wife whilst he was still but a lord. For Darius to strengthen his calm to the Persian throne, Darius married Atossa , the daughter of Cyrus the Great. Xerxes was the eldest son of this union. This made Xerxes the son of the king, grandson of the founder of the empire and the son with the most royal blood. Herodotus recorded that Persian Males were educated between the ages of five and twenty. “To ride, to use a bow and to speak the truth.”

On Xerxes’ father, Darius’ tomb there is an inscription that reads. “Trained am I both with hands and feet. As a horseman I am a good horseman. As bowman I am a good bowman both afoot and on horseback. As a spearman I am a good spearman both afoot and on horseback.” This is an example of the Persian values that were held highly by Darius I but also by other promenade Persians including Xerxes . Xerxes education would have included the importance of speaking the truth, praying, studying music, learning from Persian legends, and rigorous training in all physical accomplishments, including horsemanship, throwing spears, shooting bow and arrows, hunting and tracking. Part of Xerxes’ education later in his life included titles that would aid him in his Kingship. Xerxes was the Satrap of Babylon; this would have been a way to prepare him for kingship by giving him experience in in government and administration in one of the most important satrapies in the empire. Although he was named Xerxes in his time as king this was only his Throne name, his real name remains unknown to us to this day. As king, his status rose, so did his skills in horsemanship, Archery and gardening.

Succession to Kingship
After the death of Darius I, Artabazane, who was the eldest of Darius I’s children, claimed the throne, proclaiming that he was the rightful heir to the throne due the fact that it was accustom that the eldest son of the king was to be the next to succeed to the throne. While Xerxes urged that he was the descendant of Cyrus the great, who had won the freedom of the Persians while Artabazane was born of the lord Darius and his commoner wife. Xerxes was born to Darius and Atossa after Darius’ ascension to the throne. Xerxes also claimed that it was the god Ahura Mazda will for him to succeed his father to the throne. Xerxes was crowned and succeeded his father, Darius. The transition to Xerxes rule was smooth due to Atossa’s great Authority and persuasion. Xerxes’ ascension was no longer challenged unlike previous kings. According to Ctesias, Xerxes’ brother Ariamenes, satrap of Bactria, contested the throne but was won over by gifts and the promise that he would be second in the kingdom after Xerxes. Ariamenes crowned the new King and remained loyal, dying a hero at Salamis. Herodotus gives a different version: a violent quarrel broke out between Darius’ sons over the succession. A deposed Spartan king named Demaratus told Darius that in Sparta the custom was for the son born after his father became king to become king himself. Darius proclaimed Xerxes heir. Herodotus believed that Xerxes would have become king anyway, ‘because of the immense influence of Atossa’. “Other sons of Darius there were – thus unto Ahura Mazda was the desire – Darius my father made me the greatest after himself”. “A great god is Ahura Mazda…who made Xerxes king, one king of many…I am Xerxes, the great king…song of Darius the king, an Achaemenid, a Persian…by the favour of Ahura Mazda…”

Administration of the Persian Empire
The Persian Empire was a hereditary monarchy; this meant the king who inherited the throne from his father. Xerxes was an absolute ruler and administrated his realm from his palaces. This task was not left solely to Xerxes; he had considerable help in the Administration of the...


Bibliography: 300 (2007) Zack Snyder
Peter Green (1996)
[ 13 ]. 3oo (2007) Zack Snyder
[ 14 ]
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