Xerxes, name of two kings of ancient Persia. Xerxes I (r.486–465 B.C.) continued the war against Greece started by his father, Darius I. His vast army crossed the Hellespont in 480 B.C., and despite a defeat at Thermopylae, destroyed Athens. However, his fleet was defeated at Salamis (480), and he returned to Persia, leaving his army, which was defeated at Plataea (479). He was murdered in a court intrigue. Xerxes II, his grandson, was murdered by his half brother, Sogdianus, in 424 B.C., after ruling for 45 days.
See also: Persia, Ancient.