A Painful Affair: 8 Stomach Churning Punishments Used by the Ancient Persians
A Painful Affair: 8 Stomach Churning Punishments Used by the Ancient Persians

A Painful Affair: 8 Stomach Churning Punishments Used by the Ancient Persians

Patrick Lynch - September 6, 2017

A Painful Affair: 8 Stomach Churning Punishments Used by the Ancient Persians
Cyrus the Great. Totally History

7 – The Triple Death

In ancient Persia, some rulers believed an enemy deserved to die more than once and did everything in their power to prolong the suffering of victims. They believed that for someone to truly die, they needed to have three deaths and all of them had to be brutal. Cyrus the Great was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire, and in one story, his wife ordered the brutal execution of a eunuch.

It is not known how the eunuch angered her nor could I find out whether it was Cyrus’ first wife Cassandane, or his second wife Amitis, who ordered the triple death of the eunuch. According to the story, the eunuch’s eyes were pulled out of his head, but he was allowed to remain alive. Next, he was flayed alive but once more, the queen would not let him die, and he was nursed back to health. Finally, he was crucified.

There are differing accounts of the triple death in ancient Persia. In some cases, the victim was ‘only’ tortured several times in a row before being allowed to die. However, when the crime was deemed serious enough, the repercussions were horrendous. When Cyrus the Younger was killed in 401 BC, Mithridates made the mistake of boasting about his role in the event and was executed via Scaphism as I mentioned earlier.

This wasn’t the only brutal death suffered by an individual involved in the death of Cyrus. According to Plutarch, a Carian apparently struck the king behind the knee with a dart, which caused Cyrus to fall, hit his head and ultimately die. The Carian also boasted of his role in the king’s death and Parysatis, Cyrus’ mother, made sure he suffered for his sins. He was placed on a wheel in the sun for 10 days. After that, his eyes were gouged out, and finally, molten brass was poured into his ears.

A Painful Affair: 8 Stomach Churning Punishments Used by the Ancient Persians
Tomb of Artaxerxes II. theophilogue wordpress

8 – The Headcrusher

While it was normal for regular citizens of Persia to suffer brutal torture for crimes, it appears as if the Royal Family was virtually immune from punishment. In fact, if a member of the royal household committed a capital crime, it was usually their subordinates who paid the price.

Artaxerxes II was King of Persia from 404 – 358 BC. He was the son of Darius II and Parysatis. The king had a problem; his mother hated his wife, Stateira, and the feeling was mutual. While they remained civil in public, they apparently plotted against one another so often that the king had to intercede and prevent them from murder. He even ensured that when they ate together, their food had to be cut in half and shared so they couldn’t poison one another.

Alas, his attempts failed as Parysatis poisoned one side of a knife and ensured her servant cut the meat with the poisoned half on Stateira’s side. When the queen died, Artaxerxes refused to execute his mother and had her exiled instead. Not only did he allow her back into the court, but he also had his mother’s servants tortured until they confessed their crimes. Parysatis’ maid, Gigis, was executed and the meat cutter, Melantas, suffered a harsher fate still. The servant’s head was smashed in with a rock.

When Parysatis returned to court, she wasted little time in indulging in her sadistic streak. She ordered the deaths of perceived enemies of the crown; one was flayed alive while another was buried alive. Artaxerxes ended up with a large number of wives; some estimates say 350 or thereabouts, and he had at least 115 sons.


Keep Reading:

Wikipedia – Mithridates (Soldier)

Tales of Times Forgotten – Was Scaphism a Real Thing?

Medium – Horrifying Ancient Persian Torture Method -“Scaphism”

Medium – 10 Most Horrific and Painful Torture Methods in History

History of Yesterday – The Worst Punishment Imaginable

History Collection – Wrath of Olympus: 10 Bizarre and Horrific Punishments of the Ancient Greek Gods

History Collection – Treason! 12 of History’s Most Notorious Traitors From Ancient Times to the 20th Century