By Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones
The first Persian Empire (559--331 B.C.E.) was the largest land empire the world had yet seen, and at the heart of its vast dominions, in the south of modern-day Iran, was the person of the Great King. Hidden behind the walls of his vast palace, surrounded by the complex rituals of court ceremony, the Persian monarch was the undisputed master of his realm, a god-like figure inspiring awe, majesty, and mystery. Yet the Great King's court was no mere platform for meaningless theatrical display. Presentation mattered, and nobles vied for position and prestige while the royal family struggled to fend off the threat of various successions, conflicts, murders, and usurpations. This book not only treats the court as the center of political decision-making in early Persia, it also recognizes its vast contribution to cultural expression.