The Persian Empire believed in justice. They had strict and careful rules about sentencing a punishment for a crime. No one, they believed, should be executed for a first offense, and every criminal’s good deeds should be considered before handing down judgement. If someone was going to suffer, he should deserve it.
But if you did deserve it, the Persians made sure you paid for it. They came up with some of the most imaginative and brutal punishments in history. Justice in ancient Persia wasn’t always swift—it was a slow, prolonged, and painful torture torn from your worst nightmares.
1. Making A Chair Out Of Your Skin
When a Persian judge named Sisamnes was caught accepting a bribe, King Darius was determined to make an example out of him. The courts of Persia, Darius believed, should be impartial and fair. He was going to be sure that Sisamnes’s replacement didn’t make the same mistake.
Sisamnes was killed, but that was just the start. After his throat had been slit, Darius had the executioners flay off every inch of his skin and make them into strips of human leather. Then he had them sew together a chair made of Sisamnes’s skin. From then on, the new judge would have to sit on a chair made of human flesh.
It gets worse: Sisamnes’s replacement was his own son. As he presided over Persia’s trials, he would have to spend every day sitting on a chair made of his father’s flesh. Now, King Darius believed, they would have a judge who would never forget what happened if he accepted a bribe.