Xerxes I of Persia (English: /ˈzɜrksiːz/) (Ancient Greek: Ξέρξης, Old Persian: خشایارشا Ḫšayāršā, IPA: [xʃajaːrʃaː]), also known as Xerxes the Great, was the fourth Zoroastrian king of kings of the Achamenid Empire.
Youth and rise to power
Immediately after seizing the kingship, Darius I of Persia (son of Hystaspes) married Atossa (daughter of Cyrus the Great). They were both descendants of Achaemenes from different Achaemenid lines. Marrying a daughter of Cyrus strengthened Darius' position as king. Darius was an active emperor, busy with building programs in Persepolis, Susa, Egypt, and elsewhere. Toward the end of his reign he moved to punish Athens, but a new revolt in Egypt (probably led by the Persian satrap) had to be suppressed. Under Persian law, the Achaemenian kings were required to choose a successor before setting out on such serious expeditions. Upon his great decision to leave (487-486 BC), Darius prepared his tomb at Naqsh-e Rostam and appointed Xerxes, his eldest son by Atossa, as his successor. Darius' failing health then prevented him from leading the campaigns, and he died in October 486 BC.
Xerxes was not the oldest son of Darius and according to old Iranian traditions should not have succeeded the King. Xerxes was however the oldest son of Darius and Atossa hence descendent of Cyrus. This made Xerxes the chosen King of Persia. Some modern scholars also view the unusual decision of Darius to give the throne to Xerxes to be a result of his consideration of the unique positions that Cyrus the Great and his daughter Atossa have had. Artobazan was born to "Darius the subject", while Xerxes was the eldest son born in the purple after Darius' rise to the throne, and Artobazan's mother was a commoner while Xerxes' mother was the daughter of the founder of the empire.
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