Book Seven of Herodotus’ Histories contains his account of the Persian expedition against Greece led by King Xerxes in 480 BCE. This campaign followed from the one undertaken ten years earlier on the orders of his father, King Darius. That Persian force had landed at Marathon and been defeated by the Athenians in a famous battle that has ever since been considered a victory of European freedom over Oriental despotism. Xerxes, determined to avenge his father's defeat, raised a force reported by Herodotus to be of as many as two and a half million fighting men, only to come up against the 300 Spartans at the Battle of Thermopylae. This narrative of these and the subsequent battles of Salamis and Plataea has been well known from its Herodotean source ever since; and the muscle-bound and blood-drenched deeds of the 300 have recently been made famous again by the movie of that name. The more recent sequel to 300 begins with a less accurate account of the Battle of Marathon; and, where the first movie ended with Plataea under way, Rise of an Empire ends with victory at Salamis all but won. Courses in Western or World History are likely to come upon the Persian Wars, and the recent popular movies might serve as an accessible and engaging introduction to these historical events and developments. But Herodotus’ account of how Xerxes came to his decision to invade Greece, with its consideration of politics, rhetoric, and religion, is, if not as thrilling, at least as telling. It tells the standard narrative of the conflict between East and West, and it tells of many ways in which the conflict was more complicated than that. It tells not just how the Greeks and Persians came to fight each other, but who the Greeks and Persians were that they might have fought, or not, but did.