Human Rights, a Legacy from Ancient Times: Darius, Xerxes and Persian Heralds in Sparta and Athens

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Eduard Valerevich Rung
Igor Vladimirovich Vostrikov


Today, one of the main concerns of mankind in the 21st century is human rights and justice. Contrary to what the Westerners try to consider themselves as the founders and founders of democracy, and the imperfect democracy of the Greek city-states and Athens at the top of it, human freedom and human rights have much older roots in the East. In this note, an attempt is made to deal with this category by relying on historical and archeological documents and specifically to examine and pay attention to the roots of law, human rights and citizenship rights. The purpose of this article is to identify contradictions in the ancient historical tradition regarding the Persian diplomatic missions to Sparta and Athens in order to explain and, if possible, level them, to obtain the most reliable interpretation of the diplomatic prehistory of the Greco-Persian wars. The article examines the ancient tradition of sending Persian envoys to Greece demanding land and water. The question of the circumstances of the visit of the envoys to Sparta and Athens is being investigated. For the first time in historiography, the diplomatic actions of Darius and Xerxes in relation to Sparta and Athens on the eve of the two Persian invasions of Greece - in 490 and in 480–479 BC are examined in detail.  So, first of all, it turns out which the Persian king, Darius or Xerxes, was behind the sending of the heralds in the two leading policies in Hellas, and, in addition, what was the fate of those heralds in each of the two mentioned policies. The main contradiction in the information of ancient authors about which of the Persian kings was responsible for the sending of the Persian heralds to Sparta and Athens, finds a completely rational explanation given the stable tradition of mixing two Persian diplomatic missions to Greece. But the mention of some later authors about the expulsion of the heralds from Athens looks like an unreliable part of the ancient tradition. Meanwhile, the message of a number of authors about the execution by the Athenians not only of the heralds, but also of the translator, on the contrary, looks quite reliable.

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Rung, E. V. ., & Vostrikov, I. V. . (2022). Human Rights, a Legacy from Ancient Times: Darius, Xerxes and Persian Heralds in Sparta and Athens. BiLD Law Journal, 7(3s), 79–84. Retrieved from