There are a slew of servants named in both Herodotus and Esther, most of which I leave out of Jewel of Persia for simplicity’s sake. But all my royals would have been surrounded constantly by a bevy of slaves, both strong eunuchs for protection and, in the case of women, female slaves to take care of personal needs.
Though I didn’t want to downplay the importance these people would have played in the lives of the royals, the truth is that often they would have been nothing but background, easily ignored. I did my best to strike a balance between showing them and not boring you with constant references to their servants coming around them and going with them everywhere. And of course Kasia, who is raised in a poor household, never would have taken her servants for granted. Still, I often didn’t get into their presence simply to keep from bogging a scene down.
Let’s also note here that the king was the only free man in Persia. Everyone, even his own brothers, were his slaves—he had the right of life and death over each and every person, and if one did not do whatever he commanded, one ran the risk of punishment and execution. So while we might hear the Jews in Persia referred to as a race of slaves, and that Esther was as well, that’s no more true of them (and her) than anyone else. Every race was slave to the king, and every person under his direct dominion.
Sounds extreme, yes—but it’s also why Xerxes couldn’t contemplate why the rag-tag collection of free Greek states would fight him. In a nation built on such extreme slavery, how could one possibly understand the allure of complete freedom? It was their culture. And for the most part, the kings respected their people and granted them back their rights to live and prosper . . . so long as it was in concordance with the sovereign’s will, of course.
(Persepolis relief of gifts being brought to the king.)