NameXerxes I 'The Great' King of Persia
Birthabt 519 BC
Deathabt 465 BC, murdered
Misc. Notes
Xerxes I

Xerxes (486-465 BC), Darius' eldest son by Queen Atossa, was born after his father had come to the throne; he had been designated official heir perhaps as early as 498 BC, and while crown prince he had ruled as the King's governor in Babylon. The new king quickly suppressed the revolt in Egypt in a single campaign in 485 BC. Xerxes then broke with the policy followed by Cyrus and Darius of ruling foreign lands with a fairly light hand and, in a manner compatible with local traditions, ruthlessly ignored Egyptian forms of rule and imposed his will on the rebellious province in a thoroughly Iranian style. Plans for the invasion of Greece begun under Darius were then still further delayed by a major revolt in Babylonia about 482 BC, which also was suppressed with a heavy hand.


Xerxes then turned his attention westward to Greece. He wintered in Sardis in 481-480 BC and thence led a combined land and sea invasion of Greece. Northern Greece fell to the invaders in the summer of 480, the Greek stand at Thermopylae in August of 480 came to nought, and the Iranian land forces marched on Athens, taking and burning the Acropolis. But the Iranian fleet lost the Battle of Salamis, and the impetus of the invasion was blunted. Xerxes, who had by then been away from Asia rather long for a king with such widespread responsibilities, returned home and left Mardonius in charge of further operations. The real end of the invasion came with the Battle of Plataea, the fall of Thebes (a stronghold of pro-Iranian forces), and the Iranian naval loss at Mycale in 479 BC. Of the three, the Iranian loss at Plataea was perhaps the most

decisive. Up until Mardonius was killed, the issue of the battle was probably still in doubt, but, once leaderless, the less organized and less disciplined Iranian forces collapsed. Time and again in later years this was to be the pattern in such encounters, for the Iranian never solved the military problem posed by the disciplined Greek hoplites.


The formation of the Delian League, the rise of Athenian imperialism, troubles on the west coast of Asia Minor, and the end of  Iranian military ambitions in the Aegean followed rapidly in the decade after Plataea. Xerxes probably lost interest in the proceedings and sank deeper and deeper into the comforts of life in his capital cities of Susa, Ecbatana, and Persepolis. Treasury intrigues, which were steadily to sap the strength and vitality of the Achaemenid Empire, led to the assassination of the Great King in 465 BC.

Xerxes I

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Xerxes I , was a Persian king (reigned 485 - 465 BC) of the Achaemenid dynasty . In the Bible he is known as Ahasuerus .

A son of Darius I and Atossa , the daughter of Cyrus the Great , he was appointed successor to his father in preference to his eldest half-brothers, who were born before Darius had become king. After his accession in October 485 BC he suppressed the revolt in Egypt which had broken out in 486 BC , appointed his brother Achaemenes as henchman (or khshathrapavan ,satrap ) bringing Egypt under a very strict rule. His predecessors, especially Darius, had not been successful in their attempts to conciliate the ancient civilizations. This probably was the reason why Xerxes in 484 BC abolished the Kingdom of Babel and took away the golden statue of Bel ( Marduk , Merodach), the hands of which the legitimate king of Babel had to seize on the first day of each year, and killed the priest who tried to hinder him. Therefore Xerxes does not bear the title of King of Babel in the Babylonian documents dated from his reign, but King of Persia and Media or simply King of countries (i.e. of the world). This proceeding led to two rebellions, probably in 484 BC and 479 BC .

Darius had left to his son the task of punishing the Greeks for their interference in the Ionian rebellion and the victory of Marathon . From 483 Xerxes prepared his expedition with great care: a channel was dug through the isthmus of the peninsula of Mount Athos ; provisions were stored in the stations on the road through Thrace ; two bridges were thrown across the Hellespont . Xerxes concluded an alliance with Carthage , and thus deprived Greece of the support of the powerful monarchs of Syracuse and Agrigentum . Many smaller Greek states, moreover, took the side of the Persians, especially Thessaly ,Thebes and Argos . A large fleet and a numerous army (some have claimed that there were over 2,000,000) were gathered. In the spring of 480 Xerxes set out from Sardis . At first Xerxes was victorious everywhere. The Greek fleet was beaten at Artemisium ,Thermopylae stormed, Athens conquered, the Greeks driven back to their last line of defence at the Isthmus of Corinth and in the Bay of Salamis . But Xerxes was induced by the astute message of Themistocles (against the advice of Artemisia of Halicarnassus ) to attack the Greek fleet under unfavourable conditions, instead of sending a part of his ships to the Peloponnesus and awaiting the dissolution of the Greek armament. The Battle of Salamis (September 28 , 480) decided the war. Having lost his communication by sea with Asia , Xerxes was forced to retire to Sardis; the army which he left in Greece under Mardonius was in 479 beaten at Plataea. The defeat of the Persians at Mycale roused the Greek cities of Asia.

Of the later years of Xerxes little is known. He sent out Satapes to attempt the circumnavigation of Africa , but the victory of the Greeks threw the empire into a state of slow apathy, from which it could not rise again. The king himself became involved in intrigues of the harem and was much dependent upon courtiers and eunuchs . He left inscriptions at Persepolis , where he added a new palace to that of Darius, at Van in Armenia , and on Mount Elvend near Ecbatana . In these texts he merely copies the words of his father. In 465 he was murdered by his vizier Artabanus who raised Artaxerxes I to the throne.

In the Bible, more specifically in the Book of Esther , Xerxes I is mentioned by the name of Ahasuerus .Esther was chosen as his queen after the failed invasion in Greece. The Bible tells how Haman after feeling insulted by the Jew Mordecai , tries to kill Mordecai and many Jews, but Mordecai, through Esther and Ahasuerus, manages to reverse their fate. This story must be considered as an allegory, because the events it relates never occurred. The story begins in the third year of the reign of Xerxes, which would be 484 B.C. He did not have a wife named "Vashti," (or "Esther," either) then or ever (his wife at this time was Amestris, daughter of a Persian general), but "Vashti" was the name of an Elamite goddess. "Esther," too, is the name of a goddess -- it's Aramaic for "Ishtar," the chief Babylonian goddess. ("Hadassah," the name Esther's family called her, comes from the Babylonian for "bride" and was one of Ishtar's titles.) "Mordecai" is a form of the Hebrew for "Marduk," the Babylonians' chief god. "Haman" comes from the name of the Elamites' chief god, "Hamman." "Shushan" is identified with Xerxes's capital, Susa. The meaning of the allegory is that Babylonian gods replaced Elamite gods in Susa in the last years of the Assyrian Empire, and it was written at a time when the Macedonians posed the kind of danger to the Jews that the story describes.
Birthabt 519 BC
FatherAbihail (-~549bc)
Deathabt 440 BC
ChildrenArtaxerxes I (~500bc-425bc)
Last Modified 24 Jul 2003Created 4 Sep 2012 using Reunion for Macintosh