Teaching an old dog new tricks: Herodotus confirms Xerxes' anger in The Persian wars, and the Book of Esther provides insights on anger management
Branch, R G
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The Book of Esther describes Xerxes, king of Persia and Media, as an angry man. It highlights the king’s ups (Esther, 1:12; 7:7) and downs (Esther, 2:1; 7:10). Surprisingly, Herodotus in “The Persian wars” likewise emphasises the king’s anger and wrath. This classic Greek tale possibly fills in a time gap between Esther 1 and 2: Xerxes travels west from his capital, Susa, and loses a war in Sparta. “The Persian wars” chronicles Xerxes’ international humiliation and the despot’s rages along the way. Xerxes bullies and blames subordinates; destroys property and cuts a swathe from Persia to Sparta; acts pompously; and exhibits angry outbursts when crossed or thwarted. Herodotus confirms that generals, enemies, and aides tiptoe around this international bully. One, however, does not. Artemisia, a woman ship commander, earns Xerxes’ respect. When the battlefield of his life switches from Sparta back to Susa, the Bible presents a second model of courage, Esther, Xerxes’ new queen. Walking confidently in the halls of power, this lovely “general” in regal robes comes gracefully yet forcefully before the king, time and time again. Modeling anger management techniques with a blend of wisdom and femininity, Esther faces Xerxes’ anger – and neutralises it.
- Faculty of Theology@PUK