king xerxes of persia

Architecture (Part 12): The Palace of Darius

Persian architecture is from the 500’s-300’s BC, and is mostly the remains of palace-temples in Pasagardae, Persepolis, and Susa.  This architecture has a mixture of Assyrian, Egyptian and Greek influences.  The Assyrian influences are that the Persians built on mounds or platforms, now with even more magnificent stone staircases, which were lined with carvings depicting animals and the king’s attendants.  They also used large relief decorations and brightly-coloured glazed brickwork like the Assyrians.

Persepolis has the greatest Persian architecture.  Here, the palaces are massive, dominated by huge square audience halls called apadana. The plans were very complex.

Persepolis is surrounded by a wall, with three large terraces inside. The high central terrace is flanked by lower platforms.  The palaces of Darius and Xerxes (his son) are on these terraces.

The Gate of All Nations, also called the Gate of Xerxes, is marked yellow on the second map.  It was built on the northern terrace, and the other buildings were built on the central terrace.  [Referring just to the palaces, or all of the buildings??]

Gate of All Nations.

The Apadana’s construction was begun by Darius, and finished by Xerxes.  It was mostly used for great receptions by the kings.  It had 72 columns, but only 13 are still standing.  There are two staircases, on the northern & eastern sides, lined with stone-carved reliefs of human figures and stylized plant forms, including rosettes.

The Palace of Darius was built in 521 BC, and below is a drawing based on a carving on Darius’ tomb.  A double flight of steps leads up to an open loggia (gallery/room with one/more open sides), which leads to a central hall.  On the roof is a talar (raised platform), where the king performed religious ceremonies, as he was also the high priest.

Remains of the Palace of Darius.

The doorway had a curved, reeded cornice (ornamental moulding just below the top), like over the doorways of Egyptian temples.


In the door-jamb is a carved stone slab, showing a servant escorting the king inside while holding a sunshade.

The palace had a central apadana with 16 columns.  It was surrounded by smaller cells.  Towers at each of the four corners may have contained guard-rooms and stairs.  A view of the open countryside could be seen from the western portico.

The Hall of 100 Columns (Throne Hall on the second map) had a portal in front of it, with human-headed winged stone bulls, similar to the Assyrian lamussu at Nineveh & Nimrud.  They flanked a mud-brick gatehouse, its walls faced with glazed multi-coloured bricks.


Hall of 100 Columns.


King Xerxes was king of Persia from 486-465 BC. His wife was Queen Amestris. King Xexes was murdered by Artabanus, who then gave the position of power to his seven sons. According to Aristotle, Artabanus was then killed by Artaxerxes, son of Xerxes and Amestris.

This draws interesting parallels to FMA, where the country of Xerxes was destroyed by Father. Father then created the seven homunculi, and gave the highest position of power in the country to one of his sons, and the other homunculi watched over the Amestrian cities.

It is fitting, that Father, like Artabanus, was killed by Edward Elric, with a mother from Amestris, and a father from Xerxes. Like Artaxerxes, Ed avenged the Xerxesian people by dealing the final blow on Father.

“Excavation of Persepolis (Iran): Tripylon (Council Hall), Main Hall, South Jamb of Eastern Doorway: View of Relief Picturing King (Darius I), Crown Prince (Xerxes), and Representatives of the Nations of the Empire”


glass negative from the Ernst Herzfeld Papers

Freer and Sackler Archives

I'd forgotten how awesome this story is

Our sermon this morning was on a part from the book of Esther in the Bible, and I feel the need to share this with you guys.

First, the relevant characters. We have Xerxes, the king of Persia, and I’ll just be calling him “the king” because that’s easier to write. There’s Mordecai (whom my spellcheck thinks should be called “Camcorder”, wtf Firefox), one of the heroes of the book (the other is Esther, but she doesn’t show up in this bit). Then there’s Haman, an asshole, and he wants to kill Mordecai.

So one night the king can’t sleep. We’ve all been there, it sucks. He asks someone to read him his book of chronicles or whatever; basically, a recording of stuff that happened during his reign. I don’t know whether he was hoping it would be interesting and occupy his mind, or boring and lull him to sleep. Anyways, so they get to point where it’s stated that Mordecai essentially saved the king’s life, by exposing a plot to kill him. (It happened earlier on in the book of Esther.) The king asks what was done to reward/honour Mordecai. The other guy says that nothing is recorded. The king goes Oh frick, and then asks who’s out in the court.

Turns out, Haman was there. He’d arrived at that unreasonable hour to ask the king for permission to kill Mordecai; I presume he’d been planning on waiting there for a while, to be first in line in the morning. So the king calls him in, and asks Haman what should be done to honour someone the king wants to honour.

Haman isn’t JUST an asshole, he’s also full of himself. So he automatically assumes that the king wants to honour HIM. He lists out all the stuff he’d want done; I’m going from memory here, but it was something like: wearing a robe the king had worn, riding a horse the king had ridden, being led through the city, with someone proclaiming “this is what is done for the person the king wants to honour”. Paraphrased, but what the heck, it’s not like they would have been speaking English back then anyways.

The king listens to all that, thinks it’s a good idea, and tells Haman to do that… for Mordecai.

Haman can’t complain or protest no matter how much he wants to, it’s the KING, and I imagine him slowly turning bright red from anger, hands shaking behind his back. He goes out and does all that stuff, as instructed. He parades around the city, with the person he hates and wanted to kill, saying all the while that Mordecai is being honoured by the king.

Once that’s all done, Haman goes home to mope and whine about it to his friends and family. Mordecai just goes back to what he normally does and continues with his life.

That’s not the end of the story; but it’s the end of this particular episode in the story.

Architecture (Part 13): The Palace of Xerxes

The Palace of Darius (ruled 522-486 BC) and the Palace of Xerxes (ruled 486-465 BC) were both royal dwellings and temples.  The king & his entourage lived there, and the king also conducted ceremonies and carried out government administration.

The king was not only essential to all parts of the government, but also chief priest.  The palace, therefore, was symbolic of the union of spiritual & temporal power.  The temple was on the palace roof, where the Persian kings worshipped the planets.  It was probably made up of a wooden stage and canopy, and was called the talar.

The Palace of Xerxes was built on a platform, and reached via a double staircase.  An open portico of twelve columns had two doorways, leading to the audience hall (apadana).  The apadana had 36 columns, arranged in 6 rows of 6, each the same distance from each other.  It was lit by 6 windows.  A doorway in the back wall lead to a narrow outside terrace, which lead to the lower terrace.

On each side of the apadana was a range of apartments.  Each range had a central room (with 4 pillars).  On one side of this central room were three small chambers; on the other side were the guards’ apartments.

The double staircase up to the palace had carved panels of soldiers & spear-carriers at the top, and wild beasts fighting at the bottom. The palace’s outside walls were lined with carved slabs depicting stylized plant forms.

Below is a drawing of what the Palace of Xerxes probably looked like. The walls were made of mud-brick, and covered with glazed & enamelled tiles.  The talar on top has ornaments on the corners, in the shape of bulls or griffins.

The Apadana (red on the 2nd map, not the apadana in Xerxes’ palace) also had 36 columns, arranged in 6 rows of 6, and all the same distance from each other.  There were porticoes on three sides (N, E, W), and it was reached by a double stone staircase leading to the front portico.  Towers were at each corner.

Plan of the Apadana.  South is at the top.

The Apadana columns were tall and fluted (grooved), with double-bull capitals on top.  These capitals supported a flat wooden roof.  The roof beams were made of cedar and cypress, and the undersides would have been elaborately decorated. 

Below are pillars from the West and North porticoes.  Both types of pillars are unique to Persepolis.

The West portico pillar has a tapering, fluted (grooved) shaft).  It rests on a torus and fillet, which rest on a circular base.  The double-bull capital is at the top.

A torus is a large convex moulding, usually the lowest part of a column’s base.  A fillet is a narrow flat band, separating two mouldings.

Example of torus and fillet.  However, it looks like the western pillar above has only one torus, resting on the fillet.

The North portico pillar is also fluted, and it has a bell-shaped base.  The capital is unique to Persepolis – it starts with the base, which has a lotus motif; the upper part of the base is convex. The I-shaped top section has a central fluted shaft, and double carved volutes (scrolls) on the sides.

The Hall of 100 Columns (the throne room) is red on the 2nd map.  It was huge and square, lit by 7 windows set into the entrance wall, on stone surrounds.  Below is a drawing of what it may have looked like.  The pillars were plastered, and painted in bright colours.  On top were double-bull bracket capitals.  The pillars helped to support the flat roof (which a talar would be on top of).

b i b l i c a l   w o m e n:  [ 1 / ∞ 

↳ queen esther of persia

>Esther, also known as Hadassah, was a Jewish orphan living under the care of her uncle Mordecai, a servant to King Xerxes I of Persia.

When King Xerxes became displeased with his wife, Queen Vashti, he sought a new bride and commanded that every young, beautiful virgin be brought to his palace. With her great beauty, intelligence, and wit, Esther captivated the King immediately, and her chose her as his new queen, unaware that she was a Jewish exile.

Shortly after Esther was crowned as queen, her uncle Mordecai made a fatal mistake by refusing to show respect to a high official named Haman. This infuriated the arrogant Haman, who presented an order to the King to have all Jews killed, under the pretense that they were disobeying the King’s laws. The King agreed, much to Esther and Mordecai’s horror.

Determined to save her people, Esther revealed herself to the King as a Jew in an act of great courage, and declared that if he was to kill the Jewish people, he would have to kill her too.

Enraged and shocked by Haman’s wicked plan, the King repealed the decree and had the man hanged. There was great rejoicing throughout the kingdom, all in celebration of Esther’s bravery.

The Persians
In the west our view of ancient history is based upon a Greek point of view and more particularly an Athenian point of view. We all learn about the Greeks and the Egyptians but we don’t hear much of the Persians, in what is now Iran, aside from their defeat in a couple of key battles by the Greeks and ultimate conquest by Alexander. When we do read about them they are portrayed as an autocratic, vain and effete oriental people.

The fact is that the Persians were the greatest empire of the ancient world prior to Alexander. They were an Aryan people, the name, “Iran” means Aryan and closely related to the Greeks. They practiced Zoroastrianism also called Magianism as their wise men were known as “Magi” where our word for magic originates. These were the three “Magi” from the East in the New Testament.

Moreover, Alexander, from the Greek backwater of Macedonia, was the invading barbarian. The Persians were far more civilized in every aspect of culture than the Macedonians aside from war. Their capital Persepolis was far grander than Athens much less Sparta or the wood and brick villages of Macedon. Alexander, only in his twenties while in a drunken stupor, burned ancient capital at the urging of a Greek prostitute. He later came to regret his actions and set about rebuilding. Sadly he died before he could do much aside from rebuilding the tomb of Cyrus the Great.

The Persians could field huge armies and conquered a tremendous empire with unimaginable wealth. It was Persia that financed Sparta’s victory of Athens. It was Xerxes king Persia who outwitted and defeated the great Spartan king Leonidas at Thermopylae killing the Spartan 300 to a man.

It was Cyrus the Great who rescued the Israelites from their Babylonian captivity and rebuilt the Second Temple. It was Cyrus who financed the writing of the first Hebrew bible. He is the only foreign king referred to as “The Great” in that holy book and is still revered in Judaism today. These are the anscestors of today’s Iranian people who speak, not Arabic but a Persian language. It is my hope that the West never repeats the mistakes of Alexander. ๑ Samsaran ๑


Queen Artemisia of Caria allied herself with King Xerxes of Persia during the Greco-Persian War. As the only female naval commander, she was often looked down upon. However, Artemisia is remembered for cunningness and her thirst for victory. This is noted in the fact that once when she was pursued by an Athenian trireme, she purposely slammed into an Persian ship to make herself seem like a Greek ally. Xerxes, watching from above, sees this as Artemisia defeating an Athenian ship. The entire crew aboard the ally ship drowns except Artemisia and Xerxes never learns otherwise.

Character Mythology: Mitsuru Kirijo

Penthesilea: Penthesilea really has two main attributes going for her – one is that she is an Amazonian queen, and the other is her depiction in the Illiad. Her status as an Amazon relates to Mitsuru’s own strength as a female warrior, someone who leads people into battle and stands on her own merit.

The whole Amazonian thing gets kind of undermined, however, by the fact that Mitsuru’s father is trying to arrange a marriage for her (which is very much in line with a typical Greek noblewoman), so Penthesilea is likely a rebellion against that. Outwardly, Mitsuru seems resigned to her duty, but her persona reveals that she has serious issues with it.

As far as the Illiad goes, Penthesilea was the queen of the Amazons during the Trojan War (fighting on the side of the Trojans) and she joined the war in order to die honorably in battle, after she accidentally killed her sister. This links up pretty well with Mitsuru’s guilt over her family’s actions, and while she doesn’t actively seek death by any means, she is willing to do whatever it takes to make amends for her family’s (and thus, in her mind, her own) transgressions.

Artemisia: This one’s a little weird, if only because most people seem to interpret Artemisia as literally referring to the moon goddess Artemis? Which I have never really understood, personally. The other characters have meticulously researched names (down to using the more correct spelling of aegis for Aigis’s name) so I don’t see why this persona wouldn’t reference the person of that name, since there was a very important Artemisia in history – Artemisia I of Caria, a female general who served under Xerxes, the great king of Persia.

Artemisia I was distinct from Penthesilea in that she had a family, children, and after she had proved herself in battle, Xerxes sent her to protect and care for his sons in Ephesus. While Penthesilea was virginal, and thus only represented a part of the power that the Empress Arcana symbolizes, Artemisia I had all of it. This corresponds with Mitsuru’s growth and realization that SEES are her family, and that she cares for them as people, not just comrades.

This is the main reason I wholly reject the idea that Mitsuru’s persona is solely some weird spelling of Artemis – Artemis is a very solitary deity, probably the most isolated of all the main Greek pantheon, and it wouldn’t make sense to tie an even more standoffish persona than Penthesilea with Mitsuru’s defrosting ice queen bit. Instead, I think the Persona guys knew what they were doing, but chose to make a few references to Artemis (the legend of Actaeon dovetailing nicely with the hot springs execution scene, for example) without actually making Mitsuru’s persona Artemis herself.

others: mitsuru akihiko | shinjiro | yukari | junpei 

fuuka | aigis | ken | koromaru | metis | labrys  

takaya | jin | chidori | minako | minato | ryoji