Xerxes I

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Xerxes I

Xerxes I (c. 518 – August 465 BC), commonly known as Xerxes the Great, was the fourth King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire, ruling from 486 to 465 BC. He was the son and successor of Darius the Great and his mother was Atossa, a daughter of Cyrus the Great, the first Achaemenid king. Like his father and predecessor Darius I, he ruled the empire at its territorial apex. He ruled from 486 BC until his assassination in 465 BC at the hands of Artabanus, the commander of the royal bodyguard.


  • By the favor of Ahuramazda, these are the countries of which I was king; Media, Elam, Arachosia, Armenia, Drangiana, Parthia, Aria, Bactria, Sogdiana, Chorasmia, Babylonia, Assyria, Sattagydia, Sardis, Egypt, Ionians, those who dwell by the sea and those who dwell across the sea, men of Maka, Arabia, Gandara, Sind, Cappadocia, Dahae, Amyrgian Scythians, Pointed-Cap Scythians, Skudra, men of Akaufaka, Libyans, Carians, Ethiopians.
    ... When that I became king, there is among these countries which are inscribed above (one which) was in commotion. Afterwards Ahuramazda bore me aid; by the favor of Ahuramazda I smote that country and put it down in its place.
    ... And among these countries, there was (a place) where previously false gods Daevas were worshipped. Afterwards, by the favor of Ahuramazda, I destroyed that sanctuary of the demons, and I made proclamation, "The demons shall not be worshipped!" Where previously the demons were worshipped, there I worshipped Ahuramazda and Arta reverent(ly).
    And there was other (business) that had been done ill; that I made good. That which I did, all I did by the favor of Ahuramazda. Ahuramazda bore me aid until I completed the work.
    ... The man who has respect for that law which Ahuramazda has established, and worships Ahuramazda and Arta reverent(ly), he both becomes happy while living, and becomes blessed when dead.
  • ... When I became king, I built much excellent (construction). What had been built by my father (Darius I), that I protected, and other building I added. What moreover I built, and what my father built, all that by the favor of Ahuramazda we built.

Quotes about Xerxes I[edit]

  • Shall I pass by and leave you lying there because of the expedition you led against Greece, or shall I set you up again because of your magnanimity and your virtues in other respects?
  • The founders of the Persian Empire, Cyrus and Darius, were moderate and reasonable—powerful men, but not tyrants. Darius’s successor Xerxes, however, stands out among them from the vivid portrayal by the Greek historian Herodotus, who wrote from a victor’s viewpoint. His story portrays Xerxes as a sacrilegious monster and vastly exaggerates the power of the nation the Greeks defeated. Other sources only provide minor supplements to this hostile view of the Persian ruler.
    • Clive Foss, The Tyrants: 2500 Years of Absolute Power and Corruption, London: Quercus Publishing, 2006, ISBN 1905204965, p. 8

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