"A once beauty now stricken and broke, she relished watching men kill one another over the chance to sleep with her. She suffers here for the crime of flattery."
A once undeniable beauty, Thais the Harlot was an Athenian hetaera (temple prostitute) who accompanied Alexander the Great on his conquest of Persia. In 330 B.C. Alexander burned down the palace of Persepolis, moved to do so with a speech given by Thais, who helped him to set the palace ablaze.
After Alexander's death, Thais married her lover, Ptolemy I Soter, who was one of Alexander's generals and the recently crowned Pharaoh of Egypt. However, despite having three children by Ptolemy, she was never made queen of Egypt nor were her children acknowledged as his heirs. Little was known about her later life and death.
"I'm not a lowly concubine; I'm a hetaera!"
"We hetaerae are kept women, renowned for our dancing and music..."
"We're also famed for our flattering tongues..."
"General Ptolemy showers me with favors!"
"Are we to go to Persia with Alexander? Delightful!"
"Great Alexander, put the torch to Xerxes' Palace..."
"King Xerxes should pay for what he did to the Acropolis in Athens!"
"We'll celebrate the destruction with a symposium... a drinking party!"
"Let us form a victory procession in honour of Dionysus!"
"I was the first, after the King, to hurl my blazing torch into the palace."
"I led the whole performance to the sound of voices, flutes, and pipes!"
"No matter how great the man, flattery will get a woman what she wants..."
"All of us women had to use false praise..."
"Soft words are the only way to survive..."
”Why do you disturb me in my anguish?”
”Leave me alone. I am not a groveling psychopath.
"I was trusted by all..."
"I will be trustworthy, Lord."
- In The Inferno, Dante and Virgil behold the shade of Thais in the second pit of the Malebolge, condemned for her acts of flattery.