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date: 01 October 2023

Xerxes Ilocked

Xerxes Ilocked

  • Heleen Sancisi-Weerdenburg
  •  and Amélie Kuhrt


Xerxes I (OP Khšāyaršā), son of *Darius(1) and Atossa, king of *Persia486–465 bce, chosen by his father as successor (XPf ll. 31 ff.; Hdt. 7. 2–3). At the beginning of his reign he crushed a revolt in Egypt (Hdt. 7. 3) and later two rebellions in *Babylon. Plans for an expedition against Greece were inherited from Darius: for the course of events see persian wars. No Persian document mentions the expedition.The more important palaces on the terrace of *Persepolis were built in Xerxes' reign, including the *Apadana with its impressive reliefs, illustrating the structure and the extent of the empire: king, court, and subject populations with their ethnographic characteristics. In the Daiva-inscription (XPh ll. 28–41) rebellion is equated with the neglect of *Ahuramazda and the worship of daiva's (‘bad gods’). Xerxes' destruction of the daiva-sanctuary marks no breach with his ancestors' presumed religious tolerance, as is often thought, since DB 5 already contains similar phraseology. Xerxes' reputation as a weakling and a womanizer depends on certain recognizably novelistic passages in Herodotus (7. 2–3, 9. 108–13) and on the reading of royal inscriptions as personal messages by the kings, rather than as formulaic royal statements. Seen from the heartland, his reign forms a period of consolidation, not of incipient decay. Xerxes was murdered in 465.


  • Near East

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