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Written by Calypso Carol
When Xerxes returns, he is wearing his battle-torn rags. His humiliation and downfall is a symbol of Persia's humiliation and downfall and the fact that Persia is also a city that is battle torn and in rags.
Xerxes the Great
Before Xerxes actually appears in the play himself, he is repeatedly alluded to by the other characters. They idolize him and believe in him as a strong ruler and a successful warrior. In this way, he is a symbol of a prosperous and strong pre-war Persia, with hope and pride, giving his people something to believe in and be inspired by. His own glory days symbolize the glory of Persia before it is destroyed by the fighting.
Battle of Marathon Motif
The main reason for the war with Greece is the Battle of Marathon, which the Persians lost, and never came to terms with. The battle is referred to directly, but also indirectly. It is Xerxes only reason for going to war again; all he wants to achieve is to vanquish the Greeks and teach them a lesson. The Battle of Marathon is a motif that is referred to from the beginning of the play to the end of it, and is also the center of the theme of vengeance and revenge, and of war.
Being widowed symbolizes the end of youth, and the end of hope. In the play it is said that the rush of grief caused by losing a husband so young "throws the rich ornaments of youth aside". Whilst still with her husband, the young bride has hope, and so much to look forward to in the future. She is also permitted a degree of youthful naivete which is ripped away when in her grief she realizes that she now must live her life alone. Her being widowed is a symbol of the ending of all that is pretty and positive about her youth and the fact that this has now been thrown aside.
The appearance of the ghost of Darius is a symbol of the unhappiness of the Gods and also of the fact that the Empire cannot yet be trusted to Xerxes. The ghost character admonishes his son for his arrogance and for being blinded by his thirst for vengeance. He also admonishes him for acting as though he is wiser than the Gods. His appearance also symbolizes the fact that the Empire still needs him as King, and that the Empire was safer with him at the helm. It is almost a vote of no confidence for Xerxes from his family and advisors.
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