People - Ancient Greece: Thais
Ancient Greek hetaera who lived during the time of
Alexander the Great.
Tha´s in Wikipedia
Tha´s (Greek: Θαΐς) was a famous Greek hetaera who lived during the time of Alexander the Great and accompanied him on his campaigns.
Tha´s first came to the attention of history when, in 330 BC, Alexander the Great burned down the palace of Persepolis after a drinking party. Tha´s was present at the party and gave a speech which convinced Alexander to burn the palace. Cleitarchus claims that the destruction was a whim; Plutarch and Diodorus recount that it was intended as retribution for Xerxes' burning of the temple of Athena on the Acropolis in Athens in 480 BC (the destroyed temple was replaced by the Parthenon of Athens)
"When the king [Alexander] had caught fire at their words, all leaped up from their couches and passed the word along to form a victory procession in honour of Dionysus. Promptly many torches were gathered. Female musicians were present at the banquet, so the king led them all out for the comus to the sound of voices and flutes and pipes, Tha´s the courtesan leading the whole performance. She was the first, after the king, to hurl her blazing torch into the palace. As the others all did the same, immediately the entire palace area was consumed, so great was the conflagration. It was remarkable that the impious act of Xerxes, king of the Persians, against the acropolis at Athens should have been repaid in kind after many years by one woman, a citizen of the land which had suffered it, and in sport."
-Diodorus of Sicily (XVII.72)
People in the palace were given enough time to leave the building; there is no record of loss of life. Tha´s was the lover and possibly a wife of Ptolemy I Soter, King of Egypt. Her subsequent career is unknown.
Appearances in literature
Her larger-than-life persona has resulted in characters named Tha´s appearing in several literary works, the most famous of which are listed below.
In Terence's Eunuchus, the female protagonist - a courtesan - is named after her. In The Divine Comedy, Tha´s is one of just a few women whom Dante Alighieri sees on his journey through Hell (Inferno, XVIII,133-136). She is located in the circle of the flatterers, plunged in a trench of excrement, having been consigned there, we are told by Virgil, for having uttered to her lover that she was "marvellously" fond of him. Dante's Tha´s is not the historical courtesan, but the protagonist of Terence's play.
Thais and Alexander the Great are conjured by Faustus in Christopher Marlowe's "Doctor Faustus" for the amusement of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. Thais is a supporting character in two novels by Mary Renault about Alexander the Great: "Fire from Heaven" and "The Persian Boy", as well as in Renault's biography of Alexander, "The Nature of Alexander." Thais is the heroine of a 1972 novel by the Russian author Ivan Efremov, Thais of Athens. It chronicles her life from meeting Alexander the Great through to her time as queen of Memphis in Egypt.
Other literary figures named Thais are references to Thais of Alexandria, a historical figure of a later period.
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