Characters from the Persian Empire in 300 and 300: Rise of an Empire.
The Achaemenid Empire and its humongous army. They are led by the god-king Xerxes, who's determined to conquer Greece.
- Awesome, but Impractical: The Persians sure have an impressive variety of warriors which they are happy to throw against their enemies, alongside monstrous beasts of battle and archaic grenades. However, they end up backfiring when fighting against the Spartans, because none of them are able to overcome the Greeks's training, toughness and Simple, yet Awesome weapons.
- Beast of Battle: Rhinos and War Elephants are deployed into battle against the Spartans... With catastrophic results.
- Equal-Opportunity Evil: They encompass nearly every non-Greece place in the Old World from Persians, Africans, Far Asians and countless tribes. And they wouldn't mind accepting Greeks into their ranks if they knelt to their supremacy.
- The Empire: Thousand nations united under an God-Emperor's banner.
- Hordes from the East: They originated from Western Asia and Dilios explicitly refers to them as "Asian hordes".
- Historical Villain Upgrade: The Persian Empire is portrayed as an endless horde of Faceless Goons, monsters and other inhuman evils following the will of an deified tyrant. In reality, they were extremely cultured and rather progressive compared to the Greeks: women were more liberated and independent, and while slavery still existed, they never went out to mass enslave entire peoples like the Egyptians or Babylonians did, and the number of free people in the empire outweighed the slaves. Also, due to practicing Zoroastrianism, their emperor most definitely didn't consider himself divine as this would have been blasphemous.
- No Woman's Land: Played with. The Persian messenger is offended to see that the Spartans allow women (or at least, the queen) to speak at a council, and some of the women in Xerxes' harem were shown to be heavily disfigured, likely for his sick titillation. They also like to threaten Greeks about the fate of their women should they win the war. The second movie subverts this by depicting Artemisia as a top commander and the mastermind behind the rise of Xerxes and the invasion of Greece.
- Rape, Pillage, and Burn: They partake in this. In the first movie, a single scout party razes an innocent village offscreen and nail their inhabitants to a tree for no reason except maybe to send a message. And in the second movie, they manage to pillage Athens with a couple of Persian soldiers carrying off an hapless Athenian woman to a Fate Worse than Death.
- Slave Mooks: There are way more slaves than warriors in their ranks, best exemplified when Xerxes' barbarian tribes march on the second day with slavemasters behind whipping their backs.
- We Have Reserves: Against the Greeks, sheer numbers are always on the Persians' side and Xerxes has no reservations about sacrificing them for victory.
Played by: Rodrigo Santoro
The god-king of Persia.
- Adaptational Personality Change: He is more composed and serene in the graphic novel, even if he is just as grandiloquent, and it takes a lot more to make him lift an eyebrow. In contrast, his film version gets visibly irritated at Leonidas' very first rebuttal in their talk, and later shows some maniac facial expressions.
- Ambiguously Brown: Subverted. This version of Xerxes is still Persian of birth, and he is actually shown as a tanned white man in his young days, but his godly transformation turned his skin much darker.
- Artistic License Religion: Real life Persians were mostly Zoroastrian and believed in the divinity of a single deity, Ahura Mazda, not that of their king. Being a religious man himself, Xerxes never proclaimed himself a god; this was actually a confusion by the Greek themselves.
- Bad Boss: Admits being one in order to intimidate Leonidas, saying that if he is willing to kill his own men for victory, his enemies can only expect a much worse fate. He shows he isn't kidding when he executes his generals for failing him.
- Bald of Evil: He's bald and submits entire countries through Rape, Pillage, and Burn when they don't bend the knee.
- Big Bad: His invasion of Greece drives the plot of the movies and the graphic novel. The second movie subverts this when its revealed he owes everything he is to Artemisia, who is pretty much using him for her personal revenge.
- Brownface: A strange subversion. Santoro is Brazilian of European descent (namely Italian and Portuguese) and has olive skin, which gives him a similar appearance to a lot of Persians/Iranians, but for some reason his skin was digitally darkened as Xerxes.
- Cold Ham: While not as obviously scenery-chewing as Leonidas, he nonetheless presents himself in visually grandiose but elegant expressions, and although his voice is soft, it nonetheless carries an air of authority.
- Decoy Antagonist: The second film opens with his origin story, one that darkly mirrors that of Leonidas, but it's Artemisia who is the primary villain of the movie.
- The Emperor: He's referred to as a "king", but still rules an empire, technically.
- Evil Is Bigger: Literally: he apparently grew a head taller after becoming an insane conqueror.
- Evil Sounds Deep: He has a deep and smooth voice.
- A God Am I: Deified by Persians and considers himself as a god. Leonidas still intends to prove that a "god" like him can bleed.
- Faux Affably Evil: He is usually soft-spoken and civil, but becomes scary and vociferous when enraged.
- Foil: To Leonidas. Xerxes is king of an empire composed by many nations instead of a city-state actively opposed to alliances like Sparta. Also, while Leonidas fights along with his warriors and acts like a father to them, Xerxes never leaves his throne during the battles and is gleefully willing to sacrifice every single of his men to accomplish his goals.
- Gone Horribly Right: Artemisia wanted him to become an evil conqueror who believed himself to be a god. And it worked, only that it meant he would not hear the advice of a puny mortal like Artemisia anymore.
- Kneel Before Zod: Expects Leonidas to eventually do this. In fact, he expects every country on his path to do this.
- Large and in Charge: He is monumentally tall and just as buff as a Spartan, only not as ripped.
- Long-Haired Pretty Boy: He was a Tall, Dark, and Handsome man with long hair prior to his "mythical" transformation.
- Macho Camp: He's never stated to be interested in men (or women, despite owning a creepily diverse harem), but his mannerisms and imagery, while still coming from a mountain of a man, are of a clear sissy cut in contrast to the classically manly Spartans.
- The Man Behind the Monsters: Although 300 usually plays Beauty = Goodness straight, presenting the Persian army, the Ephors and Ephialtes as a parade of grotesque, villainous monsters, Xerxes subverts this by being their supreme leader yet at the same time a relatively handsome man. For extra irony, he even sports the spectacular physique associated to the Greek heroes of the films.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: In 300: Rise of an Empire, the mystic ritual he performs to become a god somehow changes his skin's color and makes him grow at least a head taller. He has yet to display any supernatural power, but he's still apparently more than a regular human.
- Mighty Whitey: Subverted. Xerxes doesnt stop being Persian-white until hes corrupted by evil powers. Or it could be inverted... maybe... Better not to think about it too hard.
- Non-Action Big Bad: He would make undoubtedly a fearsome opponent given his size, and he once wields a big axe to behead a corpse, but he never fights.
- An Offer You Can't Refuse: Makes a very simple offer to Leonidas: kneeling before him, accepting the submission of Greece to the Persian Empire, and he can become insanely rich and command the Persian armies. Should Leonidas refuse, he will be killed and Sparta annihilated.
- Puppet King: Artemisia killed all of his advisors and did her best to manipulate him and push him to go to war against the Greeks again despite Darius' advise, thinking she can control him. The climax of 300: Rise of an Empire proves it's not quite the case, as he considers himself above Artemisia and it is his own judgement the one he trusts the most.
- Pure Is Not Good: His transformation left him a wickedly stainless and sincere creature, stripped of all deceit, doubt, fear, and pity.
- Pyrrhic Villainy: He eventually defeats the 300 Spartans, but it cost him lots of Cannon Fodder and only turns them into martyrs, which leads the entire Greece to eventually trump his invasion.
- Sissy Villain: Not in a classically effeminate sense, despite usual promotional materials describing him as such. However, his terse talk, his skimpy BDSM-like attire and his violation of Leonidas's personal space are clearly meant to evoke a threat to the traditional "macho" masculinity the Greeks represent in those films.
- Underestimating Badassery: He severely underestimates the Greeks.
- Villain Protagonist: Of the Xerxes mini-series, a sister story to 300 which details his rise to power and how his actions will eventually create Alexander the Great, who will oppose his successors.
- Villainous Breakdown: Though he momentarily loses his cool as Leonidas mocks him too many times, it is as Persian casualties begin to pile up when Xerxes completely flips his shit. He hits his absolute low during the climax when Leonidas proves that he can still bleed, and he looks completely aghast at seeing his own blood and the realisation he is not immune to death.
- Villainous Valor: He trekked through the harsh Persian desert for days without food or water and underwent a ritualistic drowning to become a god, so as to instil the necessary awe in his subjects to make them willing to wage war against the Greeks, who managed to kill their previous king.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: Excluding the flashbacks of 300: Rise of an Empire, where he is seen in regular Persian military attire, he goes around wearing only a golden speedo. Then again, so does almost everybody else in these films.
Played by: Eva Green, Caitlin Carmichael (8 years old), Jade Chynoweth (13 years old)
The Greek-born commander of the Persian fleet, and the one behind Xerxes' rise and the second Persian war against the Greeks.
- Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: She has a no-nonsense attitude at best. At worst, she could be Ax-Crazy.
- The Baroness: Artemisia has a brutal and domineering personality due to her troubled past. While she tries to seduce Themistocles into defecting to the Persians side, she attempts to sexually dominate him in their brief and rough tryst, even abruptly grabbing his throat in midst of her sweet talk.
- Bow and Sword, in Accord: She's a terrific archer and a formidable fencer.
- The Chain of Harm: She was enslaved and raped by Greeks, so she inflicts Rape, Pillage, and Burn upon Greek cities.
- Composite Character: Though a historical figure herself, she is given here the role of several other real characters from the Achaemenid court, most notably Mardonius (as she is Xerxes' second in-command) and Demaratus (as she is a Greek who sided with the Persians).
- Dark and Troubled Past: Her whole family was slaughtered by Greek hoplites when she was 8 years old, and she was raped by the latter. Then she was enslaved and continuously raped on Greek ships and discarded like trash in the streets until the Persian Messenger found her, took her with him and trained her.
- Death by Adaptation: The historical Artemisia survived the Battle of Salamis.
- Dragon-in-Chief: Even though she serves as Xerxes' general, she is also The Man Behind the Man for his rise to godhood and the events of the first movie.
- Dual Wielding: She fights using two swords during her Final Battle with Themistocles.
- Foe Romantic Subtext: She and Themistocles are clearly attracted to each other, even having sex at one point.
- Hidden Depths: Some of her dialogue implies she is not comfortable with being Married to the Job, and she certainly later gets attracted to Themistocles, whom she sees as a Worthy Opponent. Her reaction to Ephialtes's revelation that Themistocles is alive also implies her attraction for him is sincere.
- Immigrant Patriotism: She admits to a captured soldier being Greek by birth, but her heart is Persian just before she executes him.
- Historical Villain Upgrade: Artemisia is pretty much responsible for setting Xerxes down in the warpath with Greece in order to get her revenge. The real life Artemisia is not attributed with such thing, merely serving as one of Xerxes' generals. Its also extremely doubtful she was as psychotic as the movie depicts, given that her reign as the queen of Caria was a relatively reasonable one.
- I Love the Dead: A understated but no less of an creepy example when she decapitate a captured Greek soldier and proceeds to kiss his head, which disturbs her surrounding officers.
- Lady Macbeth: Non-romantic example, but she is the one that pushed Xerxes to ascend to godhood and invade Greece.
- Married to the Job: She's way too devoted to his job to find time for romance. She then develops a Foe Romantic Subtext with Themistocles, who is basically the same.
- Master Swordswoman: She became a formidable sword fighter.
- The Quisling: A sympathetic example, since the abuse she endures at the hands of her own countrymen is what drives her to side with the Persians.
- Rape as Backstory: Being made a Sex Slave by her own countrymen at a very young age is what made her side with the Persians.
- Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: A very beautiful woman with pale skin and black hair.
- Recruited from the Gutter: She was thrown in the streets after being enslaved and raped. Xerxes' Messenger saved her from it, and raised her as a warrior and prime servant of the Persian cause.
- Revenge: Given her Dark and Troubled Past, no wonder why she wants to conquer Greece.
- Underestimating Badassery: She underestimates the Athenians' craftiness when sending her humongous fleet against them.
- You Have Failed Me: Punishes the officers who failed her by death.
Played by: Yigal Naor
The king of Persia at the time of the battle of Marathon, and father of Xerxes.
- Artistic License History: The real Darius did not die because of an arrow wound he received at Marathon; he wasn't there, and actually died four years after the battle.
- Composite Character: According to the film's story, he was offended by Greek democracy and started the war in order to overthrow it. This effectively conflates him with his brother Artaphernes, who in real life was the one who started the conflict against Greece by demanding Athens to reinstate a deposed tyrant.
- Made of Iron: Somehow, he survived with an arrow in his chest long enough to die at his palace in Persepolis, several thousands of kilometers far from Marathon. It took months to make such a trip in the ancient world and it's unlikely a normal human would survive this long without blood infections or without bleeding to death (and in the improbable case he managed to survive, he would be all healed up by the time he reached the city).
- Posthumous Character: Dead before the events of the two films.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Just before dying, he urges his son Xerxes not to go to war against the Greeks again, if only because they are so tough and dangerous. Artemisia then makes sure Xerxes won't listen.
Played by: Peter Mensah
Xerxes's emissary, who gets kicked into a well by Leonidas.
- Belated Backstory: He's the first film's Starter Villain and gets killed immediately. Turns out he's the one who saved and mentored the second film's main antagonist.
- Black Vikings: He is a Persian, meaning of Iranian ethnicity, yet is portrayed by a black actor. Possibly justified because Persia controlled Egypt at the time, meaning he might be believably a black Nubian, although none of this is ever mentioned due to him being a minor mook. (Also, this version of the Persian empire is shown to reach Sub-Saharian Africa anyways.)
- Disney Villain Death: He gets kicked to a very huge well. Even if he survived, there's very low chance he would escape from there, not to mention whether the Spartans would let him out.
- Non-Action Guy: He's a messenger, so his official task is giving messages and get occasionally killed in the process. (Ironically, Peter Mensah trains multiple martial arts in real life.) However, flashbacks in the sequel give him the chance to show he is a trained warrior as well.
- No Name Given: He's simply addressed by his job, never by his name.
- Pet the Dog: He saves Artemisia after she is left for dead by her Greek captors, adopts and raises her and trains her to be a formidable warrior.
- Retired Badass: Heavily implied. He's introduced as a messenger in the first film who got killed easily, but the second film's flashbacks show him training the latter film's main antagonist and looks pretty sharp at it.
- Small Role, Big Impact: The Starter Villain of the first film revealed in the second as the one who trained the latter film's main antagonist.
- So Proud of You: A non-verbal example, but he gives Artemisia a satisfied smile when she bests him in her combat training as a teenager, and again when as a young woman she presents Darius with the severed heads of multiple defeated enemy kings.
- Starter Villain: He's the very first antagonist of the inaugural film.
- Straw Misogynist: Subverted. He is painted as one in the original movie when he scolds Leonidas for letting Gorgo speak among the men. The second movie shows he really isn't, considering he took Artemisia as a surrogate daughter and trained her as a warrior and general.
- What Measure Is a Mook?: In the first movie, he is the first one of Xerxes' minions to get killed and we don't even get his name. We find out in the second movie that he was a Parental Substitute to Artemisia.
Played by: Ben Turner
Artemisia's second in command in the Persian navy.
- The Dragon: Artemisia's own, even although she is already The Dragon to Xerxes.
- Mook Lieutenant: He receives more characterization that the rest of Artemisia's shipmates: we could see he is amusingly unfazed by Artemisia's antics, as well as somewhat more sensible than the other admirals, yet still not very good at strategy himself. However, nothing more is shown about him.
- The Stoic: Especially compared to Artemisia and her generals. He is possibly the only high-ranked Persian that never hams up.
- The Unfought: Subverted in that he does take part in the Battle of Salamina along with Artemisia, but he never takes an active military role, unlike his colleagues Bandari and Kashani.
- Unrelated in the Adaptation: Possibly. Judging by his age and rank, he is probably meant to be the historical Artaphernes II, Xerxes' own blood cousin, who fought in Marathon and later in Xerxes's invasion of Greece. However, this family relationship is never mentioned in Rise of an Empire.
The Persian kings's royal guard and elite troops.
- Ambiguously Human: After the mask of one of them is knocked away in the film, he is revealed to be either a very disfigured human or an orc-like humanoid creature. Interestingly, this doesn't happens in the graphic novel, where it is never revealed what they are.
- Artistic License History: The real Immortals were a unit of 10,000 Persian warriors (their name was derived from the fact they immediately recruited new soldiers when their members were killed in battle or retired), armed and armored (or not as the case may have been) almost identically to just about every other Persian in Xerxes's massive army. Needless to say, they were humans, and even included members of the Persian royal family.
- Cool Mask: Wear Japanese menpo-style masks of a silvery metal, and what they hide behind is ugly enough to wish they don't take them off.
- Does Not Like Shoes: They go barefoot, which contrasts with their heavily clothed appearance. On the other hand, the Immortals in the Persian navy do wear boots.
- Dual Wielding: In the film, instead of the lances and shields they carry in the comic, they wield two curved swords at once.
- The Dreaded: They are said to be the strongest and evilest Persian warriors, and it's no bluff.
- Elite Mooks: Played with. In accordance to their reputation, the Immortals score the first Spartan deaths in their first deployment and manage to drive Leonidas and his lieutenants to their very limits, but they are eventually defeated and forced to withdraw without making a big difference. However, after Ephialtes's treason hands Xerxes the Spartan rear, the resultant mix of tactical superiority and fighting skill is finally enough to overpower the Greeks and win the battle.
- Glass Cannon: Their armored suits don't really make a difference against the Greek blades, and in the film they don't even carry shields, but they are wickedly fast and sneaky, and their swords can find a way around an enemy shield with ease. Even although their own losses end up being probably not much lesser than the regular Persian infantry, they score the first Spartan kills and manage to make Leonidas and company look human for once.
- Knight of Cerebus: Relatively. While they don't instantly make the film darker than it already is and are actually bested in their first skirmish, their arrival marks the point in which it is revealed the Persians have soldiers capable to draw Spartan blood after all. Fittingly, they are the ones who finally destroy the Greeks's hopes to resist in the pass after Ephialtes shows them the way at the end of the film.
- Praetorian Guard: They serve as the personal bodyguard to the kings of Persia.
- Scary Black Man: They are the most feared army in the ancient world, and their skin, while probably not African brown, is almost black.
- Silent Antagonist: None of them ever talks or emotes verbally aside from grunts.
- Weak, but Skilled: Though not very durable, they are quick and nimble and have some surprising martial arts moves.
- Wrestler in All of Us: One of them nails a Spartan with a dropkick as soon as the fight begins.
Played by: Robert Maillet
The Immortals's "beast", a giant of a man who faces Leonidas in battle.
- Bald of Evil: Lacks both hair and eyebrows.
- The Berserker: He's brought chained to the battlefield and released in order to wreak havoc. However, unlike many examples of the trope and what his chains could make believe, the Uber Immortal seems actually in control and uninterested in attacking his own mates (although the first thing he does after regaining his freedom is chokeslamming a random fellow Immortal aside in contempt).
- Blood Knight: Can be seen eagerly putting his hands forward to get his chains cut, undoubtedly wishing to start chopping heads.
- Body Horror: He's covered in scars and his teeth have been turned into fangs.
- The Brute: Plays this role among the Immortals.
- Canon Foreigner: Was created for the film.
- Eye Scream: Leonidas shoves a spear tip into his eye. It doesn't take to kill him.
- Lightning Bruiser: Huge but surprisingly fast of movements, and very skilled with throwing weapons.
- Major Injury Underreaction: He gets Leonidas' sword planted right in his biceps and receives the tip of a spear in his eye, and all of his reaction is pulling both out mildly disgruntled.
- Off with His Head!: How Leonidas finally manages to bring him down. Bonus points for decapitating the guy with his own sword.
- The Paragon Always Rebels: In a symbolic way. He has all the traits of the Immortals amped up (disfiguration, strength, weapons skill, wrestling moves), but is so aggressive they have to carry him chained.
- Shout-Out: His character and his fight with Leonidas remind strongly of the Carthaginian mercenary Larus and his duel against Lucius Scipio during the Punic Wars.
- Unskilled, but Strong: Subverted. While he may look like a regular Smash Mook, the axe he throws to Leonidas goes with such accuracy that the Spartan king narrowly escapes with his head on.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: Wears the Immortal black pants along with aditional boots, but nothing on his upper body.
- Wrestler in All of Us: As mentioned, he uses a chokeslam.
Played by: Leon Laderach
An executioner seen in Xerxes's army.
- Agony of the Feet: As seen briefly, his feet were amputated and apparently replaced with wood stumps.
- Blade Below the Shoulder: Both of his arms have been amputated and replaced with serrated blades, and they seem to be attached to his bones.
- Body Horror: He's obese, disfigurated and horribly handicapped.
- Canon Foreigner: Was created for the film. In the comic, his role is played by a regular big guy with an axe.
- Fat Bastard: Has a wicked expression in his face.
- Loincloth: Wears one along with some piercings and chains, which makes him ironically resemble Xerxes himself in a twisted way.
- Non-Action Guy: Despite his terrifying imagery and equipment, he's not a warrior, so he's never faced by the Spartans.