Who Was Xerxes? What Was Xerxes Known For?
Xerxes I (c. 518 – August 465 BC), commonly known as Xerxes the Great, was the fourth King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire, ruling from 486 to 465 BC. He came to the throne in succession to his father Darius the Great (r. 522 – 486 BC) and his mother was Atossa, a daughter of Cyrus the Great (r. 550 – 530 BC), the first Achaemenid king.
He is best known for his massive invasions and “fondness” for women and a lack of control over his lust. After suppressing a rebellion in Egypt he invaded Greece and defeated the Spartans at Thermopylae in 480 BC. However, the destruction of the fleet at Salamis the same year and his defeat by allied Greek forces at Plataea in 479 forced him to withdraw.
In 465 BCE, Xerxes I was subsequently assassinated by one of his ministers, Artabanus, possibly on the order of his younger son who managed to claim the throne. It was the beginning of the end of the Achaemenid Empire, bankrupted by war and lavish projects and now destabilized through assassination.
Xerxes I was a firm believer in Ahura Mazda, whom he saw as the supreme deity. However, Ahura Mazda was also worshipped by adherents of the (Indo-)Iranian religious tradition. On his treatment of other religions, Xerxes followed the same policy as his predecessors; he appealed to local religious scholars, made sacrifices to local deities, and destroyed temples in cities and countries that caused disorder.