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Written by Timothy Sexton
The King of Persia. Xerxes is situated as a character following the Battle of Salamis; a humiliating naval loss. His introduction is one that reveals him to be a fallen hero in the lowest period of his reign. Once a lofty and idealized king, Xerxes is a shadow of that former self.
The mother of Xerxes, but also—importantly—the widow of Darius, the previous King of Persia. Upon learning of the humiliating defeat suffered by her son, Atossa is at first thrown into a deep state of denial. The grief that overwhelms her upon having to admit the irrefutable serves to inspire the conjuring of the ghost of Darius.
Ghost of Darius
The conjuring of the ghost of the previous King serves to make him the requisite third character in this example of ancient Greek drama. Xerxes is placed in juxtaposition to Darius by virtue of Darius being presented as an icon of wise leadership; the kind of leadership which helped him avoid such a humiliating loss as that suffered during the Battle of Salamis.
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