Herodotus: The Values Of Darius And Xerxess

1462 Words 6 Pages
In his work, The Histories, the Greek historian Herodotus gives an account of Darius and Xerxes, who were two members of the Achaemenidai family, and ruled as Kings during the Greco-Persian Wars. Persian kingship was different from earlier Greek kingship. I believe, however, that if we examine the virtues that Darius and Xerxes had, we could see they shared similar values than the Greeks. In this essay, I will argue that Herodotus does indeed provide us with a narrative that indicates that Darius and especially Xerxes did possess values that defined them as good leaders. Persian leadership resembled Greek leadership in the following ways: kings portrayed as intermediaries between gods and men; virtues of wisdom and patience; good military leadership …show more content…
The Persian military was torturing them, but eventually Xerxes commanded their release and also freedom for them to study the Persian military. As Herodotus narrative shows us, Xerxes said on killing the three men that ‘the Greeks would not have been able to learn’ the greatness of the Persian military and also ‘killing of three men would not have done the enemy much harm’ (Selincourt 465). Herodotus portrayed Xerxes as a wise and noble leader. His wisdom was shown by his awareness that killing those three men was necessary. His nobility was shown through his decision of allowing them to carry on with their spying duties. So, the Persians and the Greeks would both agree that having the virtue of wisdom and patience is a necessary characteristic of good …show more content…
He did not exercise his will to kill people unnecessarily—as shown above—which gives his quality of good leadership more credibility. Xerxes’ respect for subordinates was also clearly seen when he offered compassion to two Spartans, who were sent to be tortured by Xerxes. The reason the Spartans sent two men to be tortured by the Persians was because the Spartans had previously murdered two Persian messengers, and they believed that an ‘eye-for-an-eye’ morality would justify their wrongdoing. Xerxes refused to kill them, however, since he believed it was not the noble thing to do. He did not want to break the law simply because the Spartans did it. As Herodotus noted, Xerxes ‘had no intention of doing the very thing for which he blamed them, or, by taking reprisals, of freeing the Spartans from the burden of their crime’ (Selincourt

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