After the humiliating defeat of the first Persian invasion of Greece (492-490 BC), more specifically at the Battle of Marathon (490 BC) which both were orchestrated by his father Darius I (King of Persia, 521-486 BC), Xerxes believed he had a tremendous obligation towards the capture and submission of the Greek states to fulfil his father’s wishes and finish what he started. From his early acquisition of the Persian throne, Xerxes had confidence that the vanquishing of Greece was the surest way towards expanding his Empire further west into continental Europe. Whilst learning from his father’s mistakes and minimal amounts of planning towards the invasion, Xerxes undertook preparations and arrangements for numerous years to ensure the safety of his army in regards to the minimization of casualties throughout the duration of journey into Greece, thus further increasing his chances of success. These preparations included strategies and intelligence of and against Greek military and resistances, engineering undertakings such as construction of canals through peninsulas, comprehensive bridge establishments suck as the connection from Ionia to Thrace and Macedonia over the Dardanelles, and fabricating supply pockets along the suggested route to maintain a healthy, well-kept army, the largest ever created in ancient history with the sole purpose of the annihilation of Greece. Considering the result of the invasion as an entirety, it is argued whether Xerxes was still, underprepared for the invasion as he didn’t consider several factors whilst being blinded by the fantasy of victory. These factors included Greek knowledge of the invasion through reconnaissance and Persian espionage, Greek determination to protect their homeland as well as their own self-preparations and finally, Spartan prestige as a military state. The Greeks, with their tactical supremacy and further advanced weaponry to that of the Persian Empire allowed them to be able to thwart the Persian conquest of the City States, thus creating the perception and interpretation that Xerxes did not take this information into account and was prejudice, denying the fact that Greece was impregnable and this, consequently led to the failure of the campaign.
Xerxes had a diverse amount of justifications for taking revenge on Greece, the most notable being to respect his father’s dying wishes regarding the city-state of Athens for their outrageous victory over the Persians at Marathon 10 years prior. Following the resubmission of the Persian revolts, Xerxes now had space to centralize his thoughts on the invasion of mainland Greece and gathers his council of Persian leaders (satraps) to discuss their opinions on an attack, as is explained in Herodotus’ (484-425 BC) writings. He inscribes; “Xerxes addresses the council of Persian leaders, and states his reasons for invading Greece: revenge, gain, living up to the glorious Persian tradition, his hubristic dream of world domination… a prize is offered to the general who produces the best troops…” (Herodotus, The Histories, Book 7 – Polymnia, 7.96, Penguin Books Ltd, England). In this source, Herodotus explains Xerxes’ various motives concerning the annexation of Athens and the rest of Greece including the rewards Xerxes would offer in order to meet this high demand with “prizes” to the general who can “produce the best troops”. He also supports the widely held belief that Xerxes desired revenge upon Athens to “live up to the glorious Persian tradition” of conquering other nations. Herodotus also incorporates his own personal opinions upon this source in relation to his belief that Xerxes only wished to capture Greece for his own “hubristic” (arrogant) ideals of world domination. This judgement however, may be viewed by scholars as inaccurate as in realistic terms, this was a little impractical. But nevertheless many historians support Herodotus’ claim that Xerxes fancied the idea of world