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Child, Lydia Maria Francis, 1802-1880 [1836], Philothea (Otis, Broaders & Co., Boston) [word count] [eaf046].
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Here: let us seek Athenæ's towers,
The cradle of old Cecrops' race,
The world's chief ornament and grace;
Here mystic fanes and rites divine,
And lamps in sacred splendor shine;
Here the gods dwell in marble domes,
Feasted with costly hecatombs,
That round their votive statues blaze,
Whilst crowded temples ring with praise;
And pompous sacrifices here
Make holidays throughout the year.

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The moon was moving through the heavens in silent
glory—and Athens, with all her beautiful variety of
villas, altars, statues, and temples, rejoiced in the
hallowed light.

The white columns of the lofty Parthenon stood in
distinct relief against the clear blue sky; the crest and
spear of Pallas Promachos glittered in the refulgent
atmosphere, a beacon to the distant mariner; the line
of brazen tripods, leading from the Theatre of Dionysus,
glowed like urns of fire; and the waters of

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the Illyssus glanced right joyfully, as they moved
onward to the ocean. The earth was like a slumbering
babe, smiling in its sleep, because it dreams of

In the most ancient and quiet part of the city, not
far from the gate Diocharis, was the modest mansion
of Anaxagoras; and at this tranquil hour, the granddaughter
of the philosopher, with her beloved companion
Eudora, stood on the roof, enjoying the radiant
landscape, and the balmy air.

Philothea's tall figure was a lovely union of majesty
and grace. The golden hair, which she inherited from
a Laconian mother, was tastefully arranged on the top
of her head, in a braided crown, over the sides of
which the bright curls fell, like tendrils of grapes from
the edge of a basket. The mild brilliancy of her large
dark eyes formed a beautiful contrast to a complexion
fair even to transparency. Her expression had the
innocence of infancy; but it was tinged with something
elevated and holy, which made it seem like infancy in

Eudora had more sparkling eyes, lips more richly
colored, and a form more slender and flexile. Her
complexion might have seemed dark, had it not been
relieved by a profusion of glossy black hair, a portion
of which was fastened with a silver arrow, while the
remainder shaded her forehead, and fell over her

As they stood side by side, with their arms twined
around each other, they were as lovely a sight as the
moon ever shone upon. Totally unlike each other, but
both excellent in beauty. One might have been a
model for the seraphs of Christian faith, the other an
Olympian deity.

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For a few moments Philothea stood in earnest silence,
gazing upon the bright planet of evening—then, in a
tone of deep enthusiasm, she exclaimed: “It is a
night to feel the presence of the gods! Virgin sister
of Phœbus, how calm thou art in thy glorious beauty!
Thou art filling the world with music, silent to the ear,
but audible to the heart! Phidias has embodied the
unbreathing harmony in stone, and we worship the fair
proportions as an emanation from the gods. The birds
feel it—and wonder at the tune that makes no noise.
The whole earth is lulled by its influence. All is
motionless; save the Naiades of the stream, moving in
wreathed dance to the voiceless melody. See how
their shining hair sparkles on the surface of the waters!
Surely there is music in this light! Eudora, what is it
within us that listens where there is no sound? Is it
thus we shall hear in Elysium?”

In a subdued and troubled voice, her companion
answered, “Oh, Philothea, when you talk thus, my
spirit is in fear—and now too, all is so still and bright,
that it seems as if the gods themselves were listening
to our speech.”

“The same mysterious influence impresses me with
awe,” replied the contemplative maiden: “In such an
hour as this, Plato must have received the sublime
thought, `God is truth—and light is his shadow.' ”

Eudora drew more closely to her friend, and said,
timidly: “Oh, Philothea, do not talk of the gods.
Such discourse has a strange and fearful power when
the radiant daughter of Zeus is looking down upon us
in all her heavenly majesty. Even the midnight procession
of the Panathenaia affected me less deeply.”

After a few moments of serious silence, she continued:
“I saw it last night, for the first time since my

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childhood; for you know I was very ill when the festival
was last celebrated. It was truly a beautiful and
majestic scene! The virgins all clothed in white; the
heifers decorated with garlands; the venerable old
men bearing branches of olive; the glittering chariots;
the noble white horses, obeying the curb with such
proud impatience; the consecrated image of Pallas
carried aloft on its bed of flowers; the sacred ship
blazing with gems and gold; all moving in the light of
a thousand torches! Then the music, so loud and
harmonious! It seemed as if all Athens joined in the
mighty sound. I distinguished you in the procession;
and I almost envied you the privilege of embroidering
the sacred peplus, and being six long months in the
service of Pallas Athenæ. I have had so much to say
since you returned, and Phidias has so many guests,
that I have found little time to ask concerning the
magnificent sights you saw within the Acropolis.”

“The night would wear away, ere I could describe
all I witnessed within the walls of the Parthenon alone,”
rejoined her companion: “There is the silver-footed
throne, on which Xerxes sat, while he watched the
battle of Salamis; the scimitar of Mardonius, captured
at Platea; a beautiful ivory Persephone on a pedestal
of pure gold; and a Methymnean lyre, said to have
belonged to Terpander himself, who you know was
the first that used seven strings. Victorious wreaths,
coins, rings, and goblets of shining gold, are there
without number; and Persian couches, and Egyptian
sphynxes, and—”

“What do you find so interesting beyond the
walls?” asked Eudora, smiling at the earnestness with
which her friend gazed in the distance: “Do the
slaves, bringing water from the Fountain of Callirhöë,
look so very beautiful in the moonlight?”

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“I marvel that you can speak so lightly,” replied
Philothea. “We have as yet heard no tidings concerning
the decision in the Court of Cynosarges, on
which the fate of Philæmon depends; and you know
how severely his high spirit will suffer, if an unfavorable
sentence is awarded. Neither of us have alluded
to this painful topic. But why have we thus lingered
on the house-top, if it were not to watch for the group,
which, if I mistake not, are now approaching, on their
return from Cynosarges?”

“Then it is for Philæmon's sake that you have so
long been looking wistfully toward the Illyssus?” said
Eudora, playfully.

“I will not deny that Paralus has had the largest
share of my thoughts,” replied the simple-hearted
maiden; “but for Philæmon, as your bethrothed lover,
and the favorite pupil of my grandfather, I feel an
interest strong enough to keep me on the watch during
a less delightful evening than this. I think it must be
Paralus who walks in the centre of the group; we have
been separated many months; and courtesy to the
numerous strangers under his father's roof has prevented
our having much discourse to-day. For his
sake, I am glad once more to be in my own happy
home. He is none the less dear to me because I
know that he can never be my husband.”

“And why should he not?” exclaimed Eudora:
“The blood of princes flowed in the veins of your
ancestors. If Anaxagoras is poor, it is because he has
preferred wisdom to gold.”

With a faint sigh, Philothea answered, “Had the
good old man preferred gold to wisdom, I should have
loved him less; nor would his instructions have made
me such a wife as Paralus deserves; yet Pericles

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would have better liked the union. He has obtained
from his son a solemn promise never to speak to me of
marriage. The precaution was unnecessary; for since
this new law has passed, I would not marry Paralus,
even with his father's consent. I would never be
the means of bringing degradation and losses upon

“If you still love Paralus, I wonder you can be so
quiet and cheerful,” said Eudora.

“I wished him to make the required promise, because
obedience to parents is our first duty,” replied Philothea;
“and had I thought otherwise, the laws compel
it. But the liberty of loving Paralus, no power can
take from me; and in that I find sufficient happiness.
I am bound to him by ties stronger than usually bind
the hearts of women. My kind grandfather has given
me an education seldom bestowed on daughters; and
from our childhood, Paralus and I have shared the
same books, the same music, and the same thoughts,
until our souls seem to be one. When I am very
happy, I always see a peculiar brightness on his countenance;
and when I am powerfully impressed by any
of the fair sights of this beautiful world, or by those
radiant deities who live among the stars, often, before
I can speak my thoughts, he utters my very words.
I sometimes think the gods have united human beings
by some mysterious principle, like the according notes
of music. Or is it as Plato has supposed, that souls
originally one, have been divided, and each seeks the
half it has lost? Eudora, if you consider how generally
maidens are bestowed in marriage without consulting
their affections, you must confess that you
have reason to feel deeply grateful for your own lot.”

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“Yet this new law against those of foreign parentage,
renders marriage with me as dishonorable as with
you,” rejoined the maiden: “Nay, it is much more
so; for I am a slave, though, by courtesy, they do not
call me one.”

“But Philæmon has no parents to forbid his choice,”
said Philothea; “and if the court decide against him,
he will incur no fine by a marriage with you; for he
himself will then be a sojourner in Athens. The loss
of his paternal estates will indeed leave him poor; but
he has friends to assist his own energies, and in all
probability, your union will not be long delayed. Ah,
now I am certain that Anaxagoras approaches, with
Paralus and Philæmon. They perceive us; but Paralus
does not wave his hand as he promised to do, if
they brought good tidings.”

Without appearing to share her anxiety, Eudora
carelessly inquired, “Did you witness the Festival of
Torches, while you were within the Acropolis? The
swiftness of the runners, moving in the light of their
own torches, making statues and temples ruddy with
the glow as they passed, was truly a beautiful sight.
I suppose you heard that Alcibiades gained the prize?
With what graceful celerity he darted through the
course! I was at Aspasia's house that evening. It is
so near the goal, that we could plainly see his counteance
flushed with excitement and exercise, as he stood
waving his unextinguished torch in triumph.”

“I am sorry Phidias considers improvement in
music of sufficient consequence to encourage your
visits to that dangerous woman,” answered Philothea:
“It was an unpropitious day for Athens when she came
here to invest vice with all the allurements of beauty
and eloquence.”

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“I think women should judge kindly of Aspasia's
faults, and remember that they are greatly exaggerated
by her enemies,” rejoined Eudora; “for she proves
that they are fit for something better than mere domestic
slaves. Her house is the only one in all Greece
where women are allowed to be present at entertainments.
What is the use of a beautiful face, if one
must be shut up in her own apartment forever? And
what avails skill in music, if there is no chance to display
it? I confess that I like the customs Aspasia is
trying to introduce.”

“And I should like them, if I believed they would
make the Grecian women something better than mere
domestic slaves,” said Philothea; “but such as Aspasia
will never raise women out of the bondage in
which they are placed by the impurity and selfishness
of man. Your own confessions, Eudora, do not speak
well for her instructions. Why should a true-hearted
woman wish to display her beautiful face, or her skill in
music, to any but those on whom her affections are

“It is natural to wish for admiration,” replied the
handsome maiden: “The goddesses themselves contended
for it. You, at least, ought not to judge Aspasia
harshly; for she has the idea that you are some
deity in disguise; and she has the most extravagant
desire to see you.”

“Flattery to ourselves does not change the nature
of what is wrong,” answered Philothea. “Pericles
has more than once mentioned Aspasia's wish that I
should visit her; but nothing short of my grandfather's
express command will ever induce me to do it. Our
friends are now entering the gate. Let us go to
welcome them.”

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Eudora hastily excused herself under the plea of
duties at home; and Philothea, supposing it might be
painful to meet her unfortunate lover in the presence
of others, forebore to urge it.

A paternal blessing beamed from the countenance of
Anaxagoras the moment Philothea appeared. Paralus
greeted her as a brother welcomes a cherished sister;
but in the earnest kindness of his glance was expressed
something more deep and heart-stirring than his words

Philæmon, though more thoughtful than usual, received
his own and Eudora's friend, with cheerful
cordiality. His countenance had the frank and smiling
expression of one who truly wishes well to all men,
and therefore sees everything reflected in forms of joy.
His figure was athletic, while his step and bearing
indicated the promptitude and decision of a man who
acts spontaneously from his own convictions.

Paralus, far from being effeminate, was distinguished
for his dexterity and skill in all the manly sports of
the gymnasium; but the purity of his complexion, and
the peculiarly spiritual expression of his face, would
have been deemed beautiful, even in a woman. The
first he probably derived from his mode of life; for,
being a strict Pythagorean, he never partook of animal
food. The last was the transparent medium of innocence,
through which thoughts and affections continually
showed their changing forms of life.

In answer to her eager questions, Philothea soon
learned that her fears had prophesied aright concerning
the decision of the court. Philæmon had been
unsuccessful; but the buoyant energy of his character
did not yield even to temporary despondency. He
spoke of his enemies without bitterness, and of his own
prospects with confidence and hope.

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Philothea would have immediately gone to convey
the tidings to her friend, had not Philæmon early taken
his leave, and passed through the garden into the
house of Phidias.

Paralus remained until a late hour, alternately talking
with the venerable philosopher, and playing upon
his flute, while Philothea sung the songs they had
learned together.

In the course of conversation, Anaxagoras informed
his child that Pericles particularly urged her attendance
at Aspasia's next symposium. “I obey my grandfather,
without a question,” she replied; “but I would
much rather avoid this visit, if it were possible.”

“Such is likewise my wish,” rejoined the philosopher;
“but Pericles has plainly implied that he should
be offended by refusal; it is therefore necessary to
comply with his request.”

The maiden looked doubtingly at her lover, as if
she deemed his sanction necessary; and the inquiring
glance was answered by an affectionate smile. “I
need not repeat my thoughts and feelings with regard
to Aspasia,” said Paralus; “for you know them well;
but for many reasons it is not desirable that an estrangement
should take place between my father and
Anaxagoras. Since, therefore, it has pleased Pericles
to insist upon it, I think the visit had better be made.
You need not fear any very alarming innovation upon
the purity of ancient manners. Even Aspasia will
reverence you.”

Philothea meekly yielded to the opinion of her
friends; and it was decided that, on the evening after
the morrow, she should accompany her grandfather to
Aspasia's dwelling.

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Before proceeding farther, it is necessary to relate
the situation of the several characters introduced in
this chapter.

Anaxagoras had been the tutor of Pericles, and still
retained considerable influence over him; but there
were times when the straightforward sincerity, and uncompromising
integrity of the old man were somewhat
offensive and troublesome to his ambitious pupil. For
the great Athenian statesman, like modern politicians,
deemed honesty excellent in theory, and policy safe in
practice. Thus admitting the absurd proposition that
principles entirely false and corrupt in the abstract are
more salutary, in their practical manifestation, than
principles essentially good and true.

While Pericles was determined to profit by diseases
of the state, the philosopher was anxious to cure them;
therefore, independently of personal affection and
gratitude, he was willing to make slight concessions
in order to retain some influence over his illustrious

The celebrated Aspasia was an elegant and voluptuous
Ionian, who succeeded admirably in pleasing the
good taste of the Athenians, while she ministered to
their vanity and their vices. The wise and good
lamented the universal depravity of manners, sanctioned
by her influence; but a people so gay, so ardent,
so intensely enamoured of the beautiful, readily acknowledged
the sway of an eloquent and fascinating
woman, who carefully preserved the appearance of
decorum. Like the Gabrielles and Pompadours of
modern times, Aspasia obtained present admiration and
future fame, while hundreds of better women were
neglected and forgotten. The crowds of wealthy and
distinguished men who gathered around her, were

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profuse in their flattery and munificent in their gifts;
and Pericles so far yielded to her influence, that he
divorced his wife and married her.

Philæmon was at that time on terms of intimacy with
the illustrious orator; and he earnestly remonstrated
against this union, as alike disgraceful to Pericles and
injurious to public morals. By this advice he incurred
the inveterate dislike of Aspasia; who never rested
from her efforts until she had persuaded her husband
to procure the revival of an ancient law, by which all
citizens who married foreigners, were subjected to a
heavy fine; and all persons, whose parents were not
both Athenians, were declared incapable of voting in
the public assemblies, or of inheriting the estates of
their fathers. Pericles the more readily consented to
this, because such a law at once deprived many political
enemies of power. Philæmon was the son of
Chœrilaus, a wealthy Athenian; but his mother had
been born in Corinth, though brought to Athens during
childhood. It was supposed that this latter circumstance,
added to the patriotism of his family and his
own moral excellence, would prevent the application
of the law in his individual case. But Alcibiades, for
reasons unknown to the public, united his influence
with that of Aspasia; and their partizans were active
and powerful. When the case was tried in the court
of illegitimacy at Cynosarges, Philæmon was declared
a sojourner in Athens, incapable of holding any office,
and dispossessed of his paternal inheritance.

Eudora was a mere infant when Phidias bought her
of a poor goatherd in Phelle. The child was sitting
upon a rock, caressing a kid, when the sculptor first
saw her, and the gracefulness of her attitude attracted
his attention, while her innocent beauty touched his

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heart. She and her nurse had been stolen from the
Ionian coast, by Greek pirates. The nurse was sold
into slavery, and the babe delivered by one of the
pirates to the care of his mother. The little creature,
in her lisping way, called herself baby Minta; and this
appellation she retained, until Phidias gave her the
name of Eudora.

Philothea, the orphan daughter of Alcimenes, son of
Anaxagoras, was a year or two older than Eudora.
She was brought to Athens, at about the same period;
and as they resided very near each other, the habitual
intercourse of childhood naturally ripened into mature
friendship. No interruption of this constant intimacy
occurred, until Philothea was appointed one of the
Canephoræ, whose duty it was to embroider the sacred
peplus, and to carry baskets in the grand procession of
the Panathenaia. Six months of complete seclusion
within the walls of the Acropolis, were required of the
Canephoræ. During this protracted absence, Aspasia
persuaded Phidias to bring Eudora frequently to her
house; and her influence insensibly produced a great
change in that young person, whose character was
even more flexile than her form.

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Child, Lydia Maria Francis, 1802-1880 [1836], Philothea (Otis, Broaders & Co., Boston) [word count] [eaf046].
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