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17. And now there was one mark left for the vengeance of Parysatis—the man who had cut off the head and right hand of Cyrus, Masabates, an eunuch of the king. Against this man, then, since he himself gave her no chance to get at him, Parysatis concocted a plot of the following sort. [2] She was in general an ingenious woman, and greatly addicted to playing at dice. For this reason she frequently played at dice with the king before the war, and after the war was over and she had been reconciled with him, she did not try to avoid his friendly overtures, but actually joined in his diversions, and took part in his amours by her cooperation and presence, and, in a word, left very little of the king for Stateira's use and society. For she hated Stateira above all others, and wished to have the chief influence herself. [3] So, one day, finding Artaxerxes trying to amuse himself in a vacant hour, she challenged him to play at dice for a thousand darics, allowed him to win the game, and paid the money down. Then, pretending to be chagrined at her loss and to seek revenge, she challenged the king to play a second game, with an eunuch for the stake, and the king consented. [4] They agreed that both might reserve five of their most trusty eunuchs, but that from the rest the loser must give whichever one the winner might select, and on these conditions played their game. Parysatis took the matter much to heart and was in great earnest with her playing, and since the dice also fell in her favour, she won the game, and selected Masabates; for he was not among those who had been excepted. [5] And before the king suspected her design, she put the eunuch in the hands of the executioners, who were ordered to flay him alive, to set up his body slantwise on three stakes, and to nail up his skin to a fourth. This was done, and when the king was bitterly incensed at her, she said to him, with a mocking laugh: " ‘What a blessed simpleton thou art, to be incensed on account of a wretched old eunuch, when I, who have diced away a thousand darics, accept my loss without a word.’ [6] So the king, although sorry that he had been deceived, kept quiet in the matter, but Stateira openly opposed Parysatis in other things, and above all was angry with her because, for the sake of Cyrus, she was cruelly and lawlessly putting to death eunuchs and others who were faithful to the king.

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