The first full-scale account of a Persian king vilified by way of history

Xerxes, nice King of the Persian Empire from 486–465 B.C., has long gone down in historical past as an indignant tyrant jam-packed with insane ambition. The stand of Leonidas and the three hundred opposed to his military at Thermopylae is a byword for braveness, whereas the failure of Xerxes’ day trip has overshadowed the entire different achievements of his twenty-two-year reign.
during this vigorous and accomplished new biography, Richard Stoneman exhibits how Xerxes, regardless of sympathetic therapy by means of the modern Greek writers Aeschylus and Herodotus, had his recognition destroyed through later Greek writers and by way of the propaganda of Alexander the nice. Stoneman attracts at the newest study in Achaemenid stories and archaeology to provide the ruler from the Persian viewpoint. This illuminating quantity doesn't whitewash Xerxes’ failings yet units opposed to them such triumphs because the architectural elegance of Persepolis and a attention of Xerxes’ spiritual commitments. What emerges is a nuanced portrait of a guy who governed an enormous and multicultural empire which the Greek groups of the West observed because the antithesis in their personal values.

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Writing a biography leads one right into a nice many professional fields; thus, they contain artwork heritage, monetary heritage, religious study and the background of struggle. Of specific value here's Achaemenid reports, a self-discipline successfully based by way of the past due Heleen Sancisi-Weerdenburg within the Nineteen Eighties, and practised by way of progressively more students hugely proficient within the number of historical languages spoken during the Achaemenid Empire: along with the standard classical languages and previous Persian, those comprise Elamite, Akkadian, Egyptian and Aramaic. frequently what might be deduced from the clay pills and different files in those languages is at odds with what we're instructed by way of the prevalent classical authors, making a temptation to reject Herodotus and the remainder as of very little worth. this is often throwing the newborn out with the bathwater, for with out Herodotus and Ctesias, Plutarch and Justin, there may were little cause to check Achaemenid background within the first position. A stability needs to be stored. i've been lucky with the intention to utilize the assets of the college of Exeter, which has welcomed me as an affiliate due to the fact that my stream to the realm in 2007. I studied Persian language with Leonard Lewisohn and Ali Mossadegh, first-class and talented academics who opened a window onto a brand new international of literature unusual to such a lot classicists. In October 2014 I travelled to Iran with a small team organised through Lynette Mitchell of the collage of Exeter throughout the go back and forth corporation trip the Unknown. This enabled me to revisit the websites of Persepolis, Naqsh-e-Rostam and Naqsh-e-Rajab for the 1st time in view that 1977, and to go to many of the different significant Achaemenid and Sassanid websites for the 1st time (including Susa, Pasargadae, Firuzabad, Bishapur). Conversations on website enriched my knowing (and i'm hoping that of the others) of what we observed; parts of this e-book have been additionally learn via Lynette Mitchell and Diana Darke. Richard Seaford was once as consistently an eternally stimulating significant other. i've got benefited from the educational of 4 readers for Yale collage Press, of whom labored super difficult in offering distinctive reviews and an invaluable bibliography. i'm thankful as continuously to my editor (and good friend) Heather McCallum for her aid during the writing of this ebook, and her incisive and optimistic reviews on an previous draft. The copy-editor, Richard Mason, helped me to imagine tougher approximately readability of expression at many issues. it really is commonly used for writers on classical topics to incorporate an apology or a caveat approximately inconsistency within the transliteration of Greek phrases and names. i attempt to use the usual Latinate different types of Greek right names (Thucydides no longer Thoukydides, Aeschylus now not Aischylos), yet to transliterate Greek phrases and no more universal names in response to the Greek spelling (skytale, Artemision). To this capture for the unwary i will be able to upload one other, in regards to the transliteration of Persian. i try to stick with always the use of Encyclopaedia Iranica the place on hand (Ferdowsi, Mir Khwand, Esfandiyar), yet a number of the texts quoted will use an Arabised shape (Firdausi, Mirkhond, Asfandiyar or Esfandiyadh).

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