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    ( -465 BC)
    King of Persia (485 BC-465 BC)
    Pronounced 'ZERK-seez'
    Persian throne name was Khashayar Shah (meaning 'ruler of heroes')
    Successor upon the death of his father - Darius I the Great
    Assassinated by Artabanus (most likely on instruction from his son Artaxerxes who succeeded him)
    He controlled Egypt with an iron hand, breaking the policy of his predecessors of ruling foreign lands with a light hand.
    In 480 B.C., he invaded Greece, wreaked havoc on Athens and burned the Acropolis to the ground.
    A storm had delayed his crossing into Greece, and he ordered the waters to be given 300 lashes as 'punishment.'
    The Greeks defeated his forces a year later in the Battle of Plataea and he never mounted a counter attack.
    After the defeat he withdrew from public life, devoting himself to what famed historian Herodotus called 'the intrigues of the harem.'
    His self-absorbed lifestyle choice led to disgruntled followers and all but sealed his fate (murder).
    He took over from his father when the Persian Empire was on the decline.
    He thwarted two Egyptian revolts and one Babylonian revolt.
    After 10 years, he avenged his father's defeat by the Greeks at the Battle of Marathon in 490 B.C.
    His troops (10,000 total) had a cool nickname - the 'Immortals.'
    He was stabbed multiple times even though the first few had done the job.
    He was the inspiration for 1738 opera 'Serse' by George Handel.

Credit: Scar Tactics

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