Two inscriptions by Xerxes
comments by Jona Lendering
This is the slightly modified translation (taken from the Achaemenid royal inscriptions project by the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago) of two short texts, written by the Persian king Xerxes (who ruled November 486 - August 6 (?), 465 BCE). They were found in the capital of his empire, Persepolis. Hence the names of these inscriptions: XPh and XPl - in which X stands for Xerxes and P for Persepolis. The sentiments expressed in the first of these texts are common: the king expresses all his virtues and shows he is the ideal ruler. Comparable texts are known from Xerxes' father Darius, his son Artaxerxes I and his great-grandson Artaxerxes III (DPe, A1Pa and A3Pa). The rebellious country may be Egypt or Babylonia.

XPh

1. A great god is Ahuramazda, who created this earth, who created yonder sky, who created man, who created happiness for man, who made Xerxes king, one king of many, one lord of many.

2. I am Xerxes, the Great King, King of Kings, King of countries containing many kinds (of men), King in this great earth far and wide, son of King Darius, an Achaemenian, a Persian, son of a Persian, an Aryan, of Aryan stock.

3. Proclaims Xerxes the King: By the favor of Ahuramazda these are the countries of which I was king apart from Persia. I had lordship over them. They bore me tribute. What was said to them by me, that they did. My law, that held them:

4. Proclaims Xerxes the King: When I became king, there is among these countries one which was in rebellion. Afterwards Ahuramazda bore me aid. By the favor of Ahuramazda I smote that country and put it down in its place.
    And among these countries there was a place where previously demons were worshipped. Afterwards, by the favor of Ahuramazda I destroyed that sanctuary of demons, and I made proclamation: "The demons shall not be worshipped!" Where previously the demons were worshipped, there I worshipped Ahuramazda at the proper time and in the proper manner. And there was other business that had been done ill. That I made good. That which I did, all I did by the favor of Ahuramazda. Ahuramazda bore me aid until I completed the work.
    You who may live hereafter, if you should think "Happy may I be when living, and when dead may I be blessed," have respect for that law which Ahuramazda has established. Worship Ahuramazda at the proper time and in the proper manner. The man who has respect for that law which Ahuramazda has established and worships Ahuramazda at the proper time and in the proper manner, he both becomes happy while alive and becomes blessed when dead.

5.Proclaims Xerxes the King: Me may Ahuramazda protect from harm, and my house, and this land. This I ask of Ahuramazda. This may Ahuramazda give to me.

XPl

1. A great god is Ahuramazda, who created this excellent thing which is seen, who created happiness for man, who set wisdom and capability down upon King Xerxes.

2a. Proclaims Xerxes the King: By the will of Ahuramazda I am of such a sort, I am a friend of the right, of wrong I am not a friend. It is not my wish that the weak should have harm done him by the strong, nor is it my wish that the strong should have harm done him by the weak.

2b. The right, that is my desire. To the man who is a follower of the lie I am no friend. I am not hot-tempered. Whatever befalls me in battle, I hold firmly. I am ruling firmly my own will.

2c. The man who is cooperative, according to his cooperation thus I reward him. Who does harm, him according to the harm I punish. It is not my wish that a man should do harm; nor indeed is it my wish that if he does harm he should not be punished.

2d. What a man says against a man, that does not persuade me, until I hear the sworn statements of both.

2e. What a man does or performs, according to his ability, by that I become satisfied with him, and it is much to my desire, and I am well pleased, and I give much to loyal men.

2f. Of such a sort are my understanding and my judgment: if what has been done by me you see or hear of, both in in the palace and in the expeditionary camp, this is my capability over will and understanding.

2g. This indeed my capability: that my body is strong. As a fighter of battles I am a good fighter of battles. When ever with my judgment in a place I determine whether I behold or do not behold an enemy, both with understanding and with judgment, then I think prior to panic, when I see an enemy as when I do not see one.

2h. I am skilled both in hands and in feet. A horseman, I am a good horseman. A bowman, I am a good bowman, both on foot and on horseback. A spearman, I am a good spearman, both on foot and on horseback.

2i. These skills that Ahuramazada set down upon me, and which I am strong enough to bear, by the will of Ahuramazda, what was done by me, with these skills I did, which Ahuramazda set down upon me.

2j. May Ahuramazda protect me and what was done by me. 


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