Thais (fl. 331 BCE)

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Thais (fl. 331 bce)

Greek courtesan. Name variations: Thaïs. Flourished around 331 bce; married Lagus (father of Ptolemy I Soter).

Thais accompanied Alexander III the Great on his 331 bce campaign out of Egypt in his war with the Persians. After conquering Babylonia and Susa, his armies met with resistance at Perse-polis. Thais is credited with persuading Alexander to set fire to the Persian palace and city. Though the authenticity of this account is doubtful, it is the subject of John Dryden's Ode to Saint Cecilia's Day. Thais eventually married Lagus, who with Arsinoë (fl. 4th c. bce) had sired Ptolemy I Soter, founder of the Ptolemaic line of Egypt. Numerous anecdotes and witticisms were attributed to Thais in The Deipnosophists, the 15 books of the Greek scholar Athenaeus.

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