Sunday, March 18, 2007
The real Xerxes
Geek that I am succumbed to an invitation to see a midnight showing of the film 300 last week.

Geek that I am got home at 3 am and instead of diving right in bed, dove into my Bible atlases to see what I could find the Persian Wars and Xerxes.

Here's something I found in The Sacred Bridge:

The peoples of the eastern Mediterranean preserved a number of humorous stories about Xerxes' bad temperament and about serious family problems in the aftermath of the First Persian War. That humiliation [the naval battle at Salamis and land battle at Plataea, hinted at in the film] had taken place in the king's seventh year. Therefore, it is not fortuitous that Hebrew novella about troubles in the royal family and the subsequent beauty contest to find a new virgin to distract the king from his troubles is placed in the seventh year (Esth. 2:16). Herodotus preserves the tale of the king's infatuation with his brother's wife and later with his brother's daughter. Queen Amestris discovered the latter affair and demanded the mutilation of the hapless girl (288).
So much for the so-called "god-king" Xerxes as portrayed in the film.

I'm still waiting a movie about the Assyrian King Sennacherib's assault on Lachish and subsequent approach and retreat from Jerusalem. Now that's a cinematic tale.

posted by Peter at 5:45 PM
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