In the Megillah, we read (6:1):
בַּלַּיְלָה הַהוּא נָדְדָה שְׁנַת הַמֶּלֶךְ וַיֹּאמֶר לְהָבִיא אֶת־סֵפֶר הַזִּכְרֹנוֹת דִּבְרֵי הַיָּמִים וַיִּהְיוּ נִקְרָאִים לִפְנֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ
On that night, the king's sleep was disturbed. He said to bring the book of chronicles, and they read it before the king.
Likewise, in Ezra 4:18, Artachshasta (who was either Koreish/Daryavesh, according to Rashi, or Achashveirosh, according to Ralbag) says that he had a letter read to him:
נִשְׁתְּוָנָא דִּי שְׁלַחְתּוּן עֲלֶינָא מְפָרַשׁ קֱרִי קָדָמָי
The letter which you have sent to me has been explained and read before me.
Why didn't these kings read the text themselves? At first, I thought maybe it was just the way of kings to have others read things to them, but we find that Jewish kings did read (Yehoram in Melachim 2:5:7, Yoshiah in ibid. 22:16 and 23:2), as well as Babylonian ones (Sanhedrin 22a explains that the handwriting on the wall was written in code, implying Belshatzar could read it otherwise).
According to the Ralbag, perhaps since Achashveirosh's father was a stable boy (Megillah 12b), he simply didn't have the education to know how to read. But Rashi learns that Artachshasta was a different king; what was his excuse?
I see three possibilities here:
- Specifically Persian-Median kings had the custom to be read to, rather than reading themselves.
- Persian-Median kings were incapable of reading.
- Persian-Median kings could read, but Achashveirosh was ill-educated, and Koreish...?
Which of these is correct?