Xerxes the Great was one of the most significant Persian rulers of his time, born to Darius I and Atossa. The Greeks and Persians had been at war many times and whilst Darius was preparing for another war against Greece, a revolt spurred in Egypt in 486 BC due to heavy taxes and the deportation of craftsmen to build the royal palace at Susa. Darius could not lead the campaign due to his failing health and died in October 486 BC at the age of 64. Xerxes was crowned following his father’s death when he was 36 years old. From 483 BC Xerxes prepared an expedition to conquer Greece for the final time, the Xerxes Canal was dug through the isthmus of the peninsula of Mount Athos, provisions were stored in the stations on the road through Thrace and two pontoon bridges later known as Xerxes' Pontoon Bridges were built across the Hellespont. Soldiers of many nationalities served in the army, they came from from all over his multi-ethnic massive Eurasian-sized empire and beyond, including the Assyrians, Phoenicians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Jews, Macedonians, European Thracians, Greeks, Ionians, Aegean islanders, Greeks from Pontus, Colchians, and many more. Xerxes set out in the spring of 480 BC from Sardis with a fleet and army which Herodotus estimated was roughly one million strong along with 10,000 elite warriors named the Persian Immortals. More recent estimates place the Persian force at around 60,000 combatants but we will never know for sure.
At the Battle of Thermopylae, a small force of Greek warriors led by King Leonidas of Sparta resisted the much larger Persian forces, but were ultimately defeated as most of you will know from your school history lessons or from Hollywood offerings. Later at the Battle of Salamis (September, 480 BC) the Persians were defeated by the Greek fleet, after which Xerxes set up a winter camp in Thessaly. According to Herodotus, fearing that the Greeks might attack the bridges across the Hellespont and trap his army in Europe, Xerxes decided to retreat back to Asia, taking the greater part of the army with him. Another cause of the retreat might have been continued unrest in Babylon, which being a key province of the empire required the king's personal attention. He left behind a contingent in Greece to finish the campaign under Mardonius. This force was defeated the following year at Plataea by the combined forces of the Greek city states, ending the Persian offensive in Greece for good. Our depiction of Xerxes shows him in magnificent Persian regalia addressing his men with the traditional Persian symbol of encouragement, a severed Greek head!
This is a limited edition of 150 pieces worldwide.
Scale 1:30 / 60mm.