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Xerxes, was a king of Persia, son of Darius I., whom he succeeded on the throne in 485 B.C.; in his ambition to subdue Greece, which, after suppressing a revolt in Egypt, he in 481 essayed to do with an immense horde of men both by sea and land, he with his army crossed the Hellespont by means of a bridge of boats, was checked for a time at Thermopylæ by Leonidas and his five hundred, advanced to Athens to see his fleet destroyed at Salamis by Themistocles, fled at the sight by the way he came, and left Mardonius with 300,000 men to carry out his purpose, but, as it happened, to suffer defeat on the fatal field of Platæa in 479, and the utter annihilation of all his hopes; the rest of his life he spent in obscurity, and he was assassinated in 465 by Artabanus, the captain of his bodyguard, after a reign of 20 years.[1]

Many scholars identify Xerxes with the Biblical Ahasuerus, who appears prominently in the book of Esther. Xerxes led the Persians in the Medic Wars.

Xerxes appeared in the 2007 film 300 as the principal antagonist. The character is drawn principally from Frank Miller's ultra-stylised graphic novel regarding the Battle of Thermopylae, upon which the film is based, and bears little resemblance to the historical king.


  1. Nuttall Encyclopedia of General Knowledge, article on Xerxes originally published in 1907 written by Reverend James Wood