< meta name="DC.Date.Valid.End" content="20050825"> Amendment Nine: Xerxes

Thursday, January 20, 2005


This post, and the several which will follow, segway nicely with what Sharpshanks has recently posted. I encourage readers to reflect on his thoughts as well.
[B]ut, so that I shall not appear to consult only my own whim, I will throw the whole matter into open debate, and ask any of you who may wish to do so, to express his views.
This was Xerxes, King of Persia, Son of Darius, speaking to a conference of the leading men in his country. He had proposed, ahead of this quote, to invade Greece and punish Athens for their previous slights and injuries to Persia (slights and injuries which, Herodotus believed, were factually inaccurate, or at a minimum, overblown).

At the time, Persia was THE superpower of the day. When Xerxes finally did invade Greece, it is said he brought with him an army of over 1.7M. The story goes, when the Persian force finally crossed the Hellespont, making their way from Asia to Europe, a Thracian looked to Xerxes and said: "O God, why did you take the form and dress of a Persian, and change your name to Xerxes, only to gather every man on Earth to invade and smash Greece. You needn't have gone to all that trouble to destroy her." Talk about your shock and awe, eh?

One aspect of this I find fascinating is that despite the overwhelming superiority of Persian power to Athenian, the King threw open the debate. Even Xerxes, a young, hot-blooded monarch eager to claim his place in history, even this young man felt the need to call a council of leading men and have an open debate on the merits of going to war against a heavily outmanned opponent.

There is wisdom here, wisdom which demands new ears.