When a father asked Xerxes to excuse his son from the army, the king cut the young man in half!
Xerxes I was the king of the Persian Archaemenid Empire and ruled from 486-465 BCE. To say he was a cruel man would be a GROSS understatement.
He wanted to conquer Greece and he spent four years getting enough weapons and supplies together to do this. He also forcefully enlisted every available and able man, from every possible region, to ensure that he would be victorious.
Pythias the Lydian hosted Xerxes and his army in the winter of 481-480 BCE and even offered to add generously to the king’s campaign in the form of money, but Xerxes would have none of it and instead he added to Pythias’ treasury.
Just before the king’s departure, an eclipse appeared in the sky. That was considered to be a very bad omen.
Pythias, who had five sons who were enlisted, became worried. Thinking of how generous Xerxes was toward him, he asked the king to please release his eldest son from duty so that he would at least have one son to look after him when he grew old.
Xerxes saw that as an insult and a doubt in his chances of victory. He took the eldest son from the ranks and cut him in half. He put each half on either side of the road and headed off to the battlefield, marching his troops through the two halves of the unfortunate young man.