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Atossa was an Achaemenid queen and daughter of Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

 and his wife, Cassandane
Cassandane was an Achaemenian Persian noblewoman and the "dearly loved" wife of Cyrus the Great. She was a daughter of Pharnaspes. She bore four children for Cyrus the Great : Cambyses II who succeeded his father and conquered Egypt, Smerdis who also reigned as the king of Persia for a short...

. She lived from 550 BC to 475 BC and probably was a sister (or half-sister) of the Persian king Cambyses II.

Atossa married Darius I during 522 BC after he, with the help of the nobleman Otanes, defeated the followers of a man claiming to be Bardiya
Bardiya was a son of Cyrus the Great and the younger brother of Cambyses II, both Persian kings. There are sharply divided views on his life, he may have ruled the Achaemenid Empire for a few months in 522 BCE, or he may have been impersonated by a magus called Gaumata. -Name and sources:The...

 (Smerdis), the younger brother of Cambyses II.

Xerxes I was the eldest son of Atossa and Darius. Atossa lived to see Xerxes invade Greece
Second Persian invasion of Greece
The second Persian invasion of Greece occurred during the Greco-Persian Wars, as King Xerxes I of Persia sought to conquer all of Greece. The invasion was a direct, if delayed, response to the defeat of the first Persian invasion of Greece at the Battle of Marathon which ended Darius I's attempts...

. Being a direct descendent of Cyrus the Great, Atossa had a great authority within Achamenian royal house and court. Atossa's special position enabled Xerxes, who was not the eldest son of Darius, to succeed his father.

Literary references

Aeschylus was the first of the three ancient Greek tragedians whose work has survived, the others being Sophocles and Euripides, and is often described as the father of tragedy. His name derives from the Greek word aiskhos , meaning "shame"...

 also included her as a central character in his tragedy The Persians
The Persians
The Persians is an Athenian tragedy by the ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus. First produced in 472 BCE, it is the oldest surviving play in the history of theatre...

. Also Atossa is one of the major characters in the Gore Vidal
Gore Vidal
Gore Vidal is an American author, playwright, essayist, screenwriter, and political activist. His third novel, The City and the Pillar , outraged mainstream critics as one of the first major American novels to feature unambiguous homosexuality...

 work, Creation
Creation (novel)
Creation is an epic historical fiction novel by Gore Vidal which was published in 1981. In 2002, he published a restored version, adding four chapters that a previous editor had cut...