"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.
- In The Inferno, Dante and Virgil behold the shade of Thais in the second pit of the Malebolge, condemned for her acts of flattery.