Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Names in the Spotlight: Xerxes


Readers of Herodotus will recognise Xerxes, as will anyone who went to see 300 and all its scantily clad Spartans. Historic inaccuracies aside, 300 did get something right: Xerxes was the ruler of the Persians and invader of Greece (if it can be called that in the fifth century BC). Xerxes I was the son of Darius the Great and his second wife, Atossa. He lived from 519 to 465 BC when he was assassinated.

The Greek name of Xerxes originally came from the Old Persian name of Khshayarsha. There is also mention of him in the Bible, where he is called by the Hebrew Ahasuerus, although it may have referred to Artaxerxes I, his successor.

The meaning of Xerxes varies from 'monarch' to 'ruler over heroes' to 'warrior'. Whatever the meaning, it is clear that Xerxes (pronounced  ZURK-seez) evokes power and majesty. 

I was able to find record for only six boys named Xerxes in England. Half of them came from the same town of Chesterton and none were born in the 20th century.

Xerxes appears to be one of those obscure names lost to history. But, if you have a love for all things Persian, or are perhaps attracted to the neglected X, Xerxes could very well be an exciting option. 

Would it look out of place next to Xander and Xavier?