Reimagined from Reality: Xerxes

TW: rape, sexual manipulation

Find out about this blog series – Reimagined from Reality – in the Introduction post and the Finding the Story post.

Today we are diving into the character of King Ahasuerus (Hebrew name for King Xerxes I). One thing I love about Xerxes is that we have information about him outside of the book of Esther, which allows us to possibly know more about his character than any other character in the story. An important part of his character, for me, is (and you probably aren’t surprised by this) that I didn’t want to present him as a compassionate and loving husband, or even as the tropey bad boy lover. While he isn’t the final villian of the story, he is certainly a villian.

Just as I did in my post about Esther, I’ll be going over what we know about Xerxes, and how I reimagined those facts into my contagonist, Frederick Lindholm:

  • Xerxes was the son of King Darius (as in the Darius from Daniel and the Lion’s Den).
    • Frederick was the second son of the previous king, Aleksander Lindholm, but become king after his older brother and heir died.
    • Frederick also knew Jadon Greenlock (read: Daniel), a fairy that was well-regarded by his father.
  • Xerxes became king while there was an active war against Greece, an attempt to conquer it. Xerxes was also the king that opposed Leonidis and the 300 Spartans.
    • Frederick is continuing his father’s legacy of imperialism, seeking to conquer Hute, the land of the giants. When the story begins, his army is actively hunting the king of the giants.
  • Xerxes was the most powerful man in the world at the time, with the most powerful army, and was known for burning cities (including Athens) to the ground for rebellion. [2]
    • Frederick is ruthless and does not stand for any act of defiance or rebellion, whether in the palace or on the warfront.
    • Frederick is also known for his mood swings and temper tantrums, so people never know if he will be amused or enraged.
  • Xerxes loved to flaunt his wealth and power. (Esther 1:1-8)
    • Frederick has an equal love of grand parties, especially to show off. He throws several extravagant parties throughout the story.
    • Frederick views people, especially women, as posessions, viewing his will as far surperior to the wants of others.
  • Xerxes was gullible, easily pursuaded, and hardly ever makes decisions for himself. (Esther 1:13-21, 2:1-4, 3:8-11, 6:4-6, 8:8)
    • Frederick also relies heavily on the advice of others for almost every decision. This largely comes from insecurity he has due to not being the original heir to the throne, and a desire to stay in power. He also has a tendency toward willing ignorance.
    • Frederick avoids guilt by shifting the blame on the people who persuaded him to take certain actions.
      • There is underlying guilt and regret that he carries (and avoids) throughout the story as a result of exiling his previous queen, Mirabella, whom he had married out of love before he was made heir to the throne.
  • Xerxes was a pervert, an abuser, and a rapist. [3, 4] (Esther 1:10-11, 2:14, 2:19)
    • Many historians believe that when Xerxes commanded that Vashti come to his party “wearing her crown and showing her beauty”, that it is implied that he wanted her to wear only her crown. So her refusal to come was not prideful or rude, but out of offense that he would ask her to do something so crude and degrading.
    • Frederick is equally sex-obsessed (often as a result of his hunger for power and control).
    • Frederick not only forces himself upon the virgins in the harem, but his only qualifications qualifications for finding a queen are appearance and performance in bed. This is sexual manipulation to falsify willingness from the concubines.
    • Frederick is unfaithful to his queen throughout the story, having no respect for his marriage.
      • As mentioned in the Esther post…Xerxes (and Frederick by extension) *loved* and favored Esther above of all the virgins; *aheb*, the Hebrew word for “strong attachment or erotic desire”. [1] (Esther 2:17)

Well, we’re ending on kinda a sad note here, but now you can probably see why Frederick is a villian for certain. He gives so much context to Roxana’s fear throughout the story, as the threat of death is very real and constant.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments! Find out anything you didn’t know or haven’t considered before?

Next week we dive into Mordecai….

References

[0] The Book of Esther
[1] Oxford Research Encyclopedias: Desire, Love, and Romance in the Hebrew Bible
[2] History.net: Greco Persian Wars: Xerxes’ Invasion
[3] Jews for Jesus: Five Things About Esther That Nobody Talks About
[4] Rachel Held Evans: Esther Actually 4-part series

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