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Last updated: February 11, 2019

Hubris, which describes excessive arrogance and pride, met punishment.

A common trait for the powerful and wealthy, hubris exacts punishment because this finds expression in defiance of the gods. Hubris also draws retribution because this causes humiliation or violent actions leading to deaths.Xerxes is a historical figure who met punishment and retribution for his hubris. Xerxes was an ambitious and driven king who sought to exceed the previous kings in maintaining the glory of Persia. He sought to expand the Persian kingdom until the sky, where the gods reside, so that the sun would not be looking down at Persia. To do this, Xerxes had to defeat Greece. He marched his army towards Greece. His ambition to become the ruler of the world was beyond the boundaries of nature.

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His hubris manifested in his action to fetter Hellespont. He ordered his men to build two boat bridges as pathway for his soldiers across Hellespont. A storm destroyed this.

He rebuilt the floating boats. He also cut Hellespont by creating a channel and filled these with land to create a solid path across the straight. At the battle of Salamis, the naval troops of Xerxes lost heavily to the Greek fleet. He had to retreat. Later on, Xerxes died during an uprising in his own palace. (Schurmann & Lilly, 2003)Xerxes could have supported his arrogance with strategy.

He lost at Salamis because his broader ships were slower than the narrower but faster ships of Greece (Schurmann & Lilly, 2003). He could have built enough ships and used his broad ships to round up the Greek fleet before attacking. It appears that he had enough fighters because of the land path he made across Hellespont but maybe not enough ships or poor positioning of his ships.The plight of Xerxes exemplifies punishment and retribution for hubris. By cutting Hellespont, he raised the ire of the god Bosporus (Schurmann & Lilly, 2003) whose retribution caused the defeat of Xerxes’ naval fleet. 


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