“Daiva Inscription” of Xerxes: Historical Account, Ideological Statement, or Propaganda?

Yakubovich Ilya S.

The so-called “Daiva inscription” of Xerxes found at Persepolis addresses the activity of
this Achaemenid Persian king in two lands, one of which is said to have been in commotion,
while the other is alleged to have been characterized by unacceptable religious practices.
Xerxes stresses his involvement in the restoration of order in both countries but does not
mention their names. Egypt, Babylon, Greece and Bactria were all adduced as candidates
by twentieth century scholars, while the recent mainstream of scholarship tends to interpret
the same accounts as abstract ideological statements without an anchor in time or space. The
new approach advocated in this paper assumes that Xerxes resorted to historical narratives
only in order to provide his own apologetic version of embarrassing events. In particular, his
self-professed involvement in the destruction of the cults of evil gods is to be interpreted as a
twisted account of the destruction of the Acropolis of Athens by the Persian army in 480 BC.
In the wake of the disastrous war against the Greeks, Xerxes strove to present it as a successful
special operation against the Greek deities

Keywords: Xerxes, Achaemenid propaganda, Old Persian, Daiva inscription, Greek and Persian Wars

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