How does Xerxes’ background prepare him for his prominent role?
Xerxes the Great was the fourth of the king of kings of the Archaemenid empire ruling from 486 to 465 BCE. However if it weren’t for his family background, status, Persian education, and succession he would have not been the famous king he is known for today.
Xerxes was born a prince in the royal court and would have all the respect and prestige associated with his position. However he was not the eldest son of King Darius I and was one of the three sons. It is thought that Xerxes was possibly given viceroy or governor of Babylon, this would have given him experience in government and administration. A relief showing two figures, one sitting on the throne and one behind of similar appearance and on an elevated platform “above everyone”. Shows them holding the same objects and appear as equals, this relief may be an impression of Darius and with Xerxes behind him learning and watching the skills needed for kingship. It is suggested that Xerxes shared a co-regency with his father in the last eleven years of Darius’ reign. This is based on a tablet in which Xerxes is said to have become king after Darius ‘left the throne’. This suggests that Darius may have stepped aside in favour of his son. Another version uses the term “he went to his fate” suggesting that Darius died before Xerxes accession thus excluding the possibility of a co-regency.
Persian education system is a significant factor preparing Xerxes for his prominent role as King, however there is no evidence relating to the education of Xerxes, it can be inferred from the evidence relating to the general education of Persian boys and princes. Herodotus recorded that Persian males were educated between the ages of five and twenty and that they were taught “to ride, to use the bow and to speak the truth” and valour in battle. The following is an extract from a text inscribed by Darius on his tomb “Trained am I both with hands and feet. As a...