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This book explores Achaemenid kingship and argues for the centrality of the royal court in elite Persian society. The first Persian Empire (559-331 BC) was the biggest land empire the world had seen, and seated 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, and surrounded by the complex rituals of court ceremonial, the Persian monarch was undisputed master of his realm, a god-like figure of awe, majesty, and mystery. Yet the court of the Great King was no simple platform for meaningless theatrical display; at court, presentation mattered: nobles vied for position and prestige, and the royal family attempted to keep a tight grip on dynastic power - in spite of succession struggles, murders, and usurpations, for the court was also the centre of political decision - making and the source of cultural expression. This book explores the representation of Persian monarchy and the court of the Achaemenid Great Kings from the point of view of the ancient Iranians themselves (as well as other Near Eastern peoples) and through the sometimes distorted prism of Classical and Biblical sources. Key Features: draws on rich Iranian and Classical sources; examines key issues such as royal ideology, court structure, ceremony and ritual, royal migrations, gender, hierarchy, architecture and space and cultural achievements; accesses the rarefied but dangerous world of Persian palace life; and includes guides to further reading and web resources to encourage research.