Hailed by Tom Holland as a 'fascinating and compendious survey of ancient attitudes to Xerxes' and now available in paperback, Imagining Xerxes is a transhistorical analysis that explores the richness and variety of Xerxes' afterlives within the ancient literary tradition and the reinvention of his image in a remarkable array of cultural and historical contexts.
This Persian king, who invaded Greece in 480 BC, quickly earned a notoriety that endured throughout antiquity and beyond. The Greeks' historical encounter with Xerxes - which resulted, against overwhelming odds, in the defeat of the Persian army - has inspired a series of literary responses to the king in which he is variously portrayed as the archetypal destructive and enslaving aggressor, as the epitome of arrogance and impiety, or as a figure synonymous with the exoticism and luxury of the Persian court.
Emma Bridges examines the earliest representations of the king, in Aeschylus' tragic play Persians and Herodotus' historiographical account of the Persian Wars, before tracing the ways in which the image of Xerxes was revisited and adapted in later Greek and Latin texts. The author also looks beyond the Hellenocentric viewpoint to consider the construction of Xerxes' image in the Persian epigraphic record and the alternative perspectives on the king found in the Jewish written tradition.
Emma Bridges is a Lecturer in Classical Studies at the Open University, UK.
Introduction: Encountering Xerxes 1. Staging Xerxes: Aeschylus and beyond 2. Historiographical enquiry: the Herodotean Xerxes-narrative 3. Xerxes in his own write? The Persian perspective 4. Pride, panhellenism and propaganda: Xerxes in the fourth century BC 5. The king at court: alternative (hi)stories of Xerxes 6. The past as a paradigm: Xerxes in a world ruled by Rome Epilogue: Re-imagining Xerxes Bibliography Index