Xerxes: A Persian Life

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

Xerxes, nice King of the Persian Empire from 486–465 B.C., has long past down in background as an offended 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 all of the different achievements of his twenty-two-year reign.
during this vigorous and accomplished new biography, Richard Stoneman indicates how Xerxes, regardless of sympathetic therapy by means of the modern Greek writers Aeschylus and Herodotus, had his acceptance destroyed through later Greek writers and through the propaganda of Alexander the nice. Stoneman attracts at the most modern learn in Achaemenid reports and archaeology to offer the ruler from the Persian standpoint. This illuminating quantity doesn't whitewash Xerxes’ failings yet units opposed to them such triumphs because the architectural attractiveness 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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26 The inhabitants consisted mostly of autourgoi, small farmers, as Aelian tells us. 27 Aelian additionally says that either Persians and Indians are ‘brave and loose, yet idle in commerce’. 28 there have been no marketplace cities of the sort that constructed within the west. 29 Predominantly the lands of the nice King consisted of serious estates. In Sassanian and medieval Iran, it used to be the lords of those estates, the dehqans (by an odd mutation, in glossy Persian the notice capability ‘peasant’), who managed their lands or even the towns. 30 In historical Persia, all wealth and all authority derived from and again to the king; the property proprietors have been not more than intermediaries during this strategy of tribute-collection. the excess grew to become a hoard. THE financial system Like different close to jap empires, the Persian Empire had a hugely centralised economic system, corresponding to the palace economies of Minoan Crete in addition to Mesopotamia. Wealth got here in to the king and used to be disbursed in line with desire or the king’s excitement. even though it provided itself as performing on the root of baji, presents in kind,31 the king’s source of revenue consisted, in addition to tribute, of taxes and tolls. Strabo writes: Polycritus [he without doubt potential Polyclitus of Larissa, the Alexander historian, FGrH 128 F three] says that during Susa [does he suggest Persepolis? ] each of the kings outfitted for himself at the acropolis a separate habitation, treasure-houses, and garage locations for what tributes they exacted, as memorials of his management; and they exacted silver from the folk at the sea-board, and from the folk within the inside things like every one nation produced, so they additionally bought dyes, medicinal drugs, hair, or wool, or anything else of the type, and in addition livestock; and that the king who organised the separate tributes used to be Darius referred to as the Long-armed [the epithet is mostly connected to Artaxerxes I: does he suggest Darius I? ]. 32 yet as ‘Aristotle’ describes,33 in a extra refined account, satrapal source of revenue is of six varieties: from land, from neighborhood items, from exchange, from dues, from herds, and ‘other’ (including ballot tax and craftsman tax). What went to the satraps went sooner or later to the king, so what ‘Aristotle’ says applies additionally to the royal treasury. at the reliefs, all this number of source of revenue is symbolised through the second one class, neighborhood items. a lot of the alternate needs to certainly were in variety. Pay, too, as we examine from the Persepolis Fortification drugs, consisted in general of beneficiant offers of ‘rations’ – typically grain, wine and sheep. 34 but the Persian treasuries at Sardis, Susa and Persepolis have been crammed complete with gold and silver; at Persepolis there has been a lot while Alexander got rid of it that he needed to fee 1,000 camels to hold it away. Silver was once extensively utilized to pay staff, and there have been conversion charges for commuting funds of, say, sheep into coin. 35 it really is certainly tough to determine how a employee can make use of pay of ‘one sheep in keeping with day’36 or 30 quarts of flour monthly, not to mention ‘one-ninth of a sheep in step with month’;37 such amounts must be ‘banked’ and drawn on in small quantities.

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