Her rule was awash with blood, as anybody who challenged or got in her way was brutally murdered.
Queen of Persia
Parysatis (also known as Pari Satis or Pharziris, meaning ‘Full of Bliss’) was a woman beyond her time (the 400’s BC). Doing what she had to do, she achieved her objectives the only way she knew how – through diplomacy, manipulation and murder. Women in Persia (today’s Iran) could be the General’s of Armies, and could rule entire cities – not like many other countries around the world at that time. Parysatis though, was more than a General or a Queen of Persia, she was also a manipulator of the first order.
She was half-sister to Darius II, and also his wife and mother to 13 of his children, with only four surviving to adulthood. It was said that the realm was actually run by Parysatis as the power behind the throne, and that Darius was a little dim-witted – or at least weak. She was a master at recognising a threat and eliminating it, and has been known to history as administrating the throne through murder.
Through Parysatis’ machinations, King Darius put his own brothers, Sogdianus and Arsites to death. Her wrath knew no end. Darius arranged for his eldest son Artaxerxes to be married to a noble girl of good family named Stateira. At the same time, he also arranged for Stateira’s brother to marry Artaxerxes’ sister. A brother and sister to wed another brother and sister. Unfortunately for Artaxerxes’ sister, her new husband preferred the company of one of his step-sisters. The insult was too much for Parysatis to bear. She therefore arranged to have the entire family put to death, by ‘sawing’ no less (the art of hanging the victim upside down and sawing their body in half from the crotch). She spared Stateira’s life, albeit reluctantly, and temporarily.
As much as she loved her son Artaxerxes, she still did not favour him to be King when her husband/brother died. Her favourite child was Cyrus, her second son, and in the end he turned out to be not all that different from his mother! The psychopathic tendencies appear to have run in the family.
Much to Parysatis’ anguish, Cyrus was defeated and killed. With no shame what-so-ever, Parysatis went into full mourning for Cyrus, bestowed funeral honours on his mutilated remains, and tried to save the life of the Greek mercenaries who fought for Cyrus (in vain – they were executed as enemies).
(More information on this shocking execution method can be found HERE!)
In the meantime, relations between Parysatis and her daughter in law Stateira were very strained. Before long, Parysatis decided it was time Stateira die by poison. They sat down to eat a bird together. The bird was dissected in two by a knife, one side of which was poisoned. After Stateira’s death, Artaxerxes was known to have had 350 wives.
The death of his wife Stateira could not be overlooked though, and Artaxerxes felt he needed to act. The best he could muster, although fully convinced his mother killed his wife, was to banish her to Babylon. But not for long. Within a short period of time, she was back at his side, had recovered all of her former influence, and was manipulating him once more.
Parysatis, being a woman, was not written of all that much. Finding a full account of her life is difficult. The information above mainly came from the work of Ctesias, a resident of the court of Persia in the period she lived. His words do bear every mark of authenticity, and there is no reason to dismiss them.
Put together by Ashley Hall 2014