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The Resources of Persia

By 500 B.C the Persian Kingdom had millions of subjects. The Persian kings exacted taxes from their many subject peoples1 in different ways in different regions. Tax revenues could be levied in the form of food stuffs, precious metals as bullion or coinage, and other valuable commodities. The various provinces were also responsible for supplying soldiers to staff the royal army. The material and human revenues of the immense kingdom made the Persian kings wealthy beyond the Greek imagination. Although the Persians did not regard their king as a god, everything about him was meant to emphasize his grandeur and superiority to ordinary mortals. His purple robes were of the most splendid fabric; red carpets were spread for him alone to walk upon; his servants held their hands before their mouths in his presence to muffle their breath so that he would not have to breathe the same air; he was depicted as larger than any other human being in the sculpture adorning his palace. To display his concern for his loyal subjects, as well as the gargantuan scale of his resources, the king provided meals for some 15,000 nobles, courtiers, and other followers every day, although he himself ate hidden from the view of his guests. The Greeks, in awe of the Persian monarch's power and lavishness, referred to him simply as “The Great King.2

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