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Child, Lydia Maria Francis, 1802-1880 [1836], Philothea (Otis, Broaders & Co., Boston) [word count] [eaf046].
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“How I love the mellow sage,
Smiling through the veil of age!
Age is on his temples hung,
But his heart—his heart is young!”

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A few years passed away and saw Anaxagoras the
contented resident of a small village near Lampsacus,
in Ionia. That he still fondly cherished Athens in his
heart was betrayed only by the frequent walks he took
to a neighboring eminence, where he loved to sit and
look toward the Ægean; but the feebleness of age
gradually increased, until he could no longer take his
customary exercise. Philothea watched over him with
renewed tenderness; and the bright tranquillity he
received from the world he was fast approaching shone
with reflected light upon her innocent soul. At times,
the maiden was so conscious of this holy influence,
that all the earthly objects around her seemed like
dreams of some strange foreign land.

One morning, after they had partaken their frugal
repast, she said, in a cheerful tone, “Dear grandfather,
I had last night a pleasant dream; and Mibra
says it is prophetic, because she had filled my pillow
with fresh laurel leaves. I dreamed that a galley,
with three banks of oars, and adorned with fillets,
came to carry us back to Athens.”

With a faint smile, Anaxagoras replied, “Alas for
unhappy Athens! If half we hear be true, her

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exiled children can hardly wish to be restored to her bosom.
Atropos has decreed that I at least shall never
again enter her walls. I am not disposed to murmur.
Yet the voice of Plato would be pleasant to my ears,
as music on the waters in the night-time. I pray you
bring forth the writings of Pythagoras, and read me
something that sublime philosopher has said concerning
the nature of the soul, and the eternal principle of
life. As my frail body approaches the Place of Sleep,
I feel less and less inclined to study the outward images
of things, the forms whereof perish; and my spirit
thirsteth more and more to know its origin and its destiny.
I have thought much of Plato's mysterious
ideas of light. Those ideas were doubtless brought
from the East; for as that is the quarter where the
sun rises, so we have thence derived many vital truths,
which have kept a spark of life within the beautiful
pageantry of Grecian mythology.”

“Paralus often said that the Persian Magi, the Egyptian
priests, and the Pythagoreans imbibed their reverence
for light from one common source,” rejoined

Anaxagoras was about to speak, when a deep but
gentle voice, from some invisible person near them,

“The unchangeable principles of Truth acts upon
the soul like the sun upon the eye, when it turneth to
him. But the one principle, better than intellect,
from which all things flow, and to which all things
tend, is Good. As the sun not only makes objects visible,
but is the cause of their generation, nourishment,
and increase, so the Good, through Truth, imparts being,
and the power of being known, to every object of
knowledge. For this cause, the Pythagoreans greet
the sun with music and with reverence.”

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The listeners looked at each other in surprise, and
Philothea was the first to say, “It is the voice of

“Even so, my friends,” replied the philosopher,
smiling, as he stood before them.

The old man, in the sudden joy of his heart, attempted
to rise and embrace him; but weakness prevented.
The tears started to his eyes, as he said, “Welcome,
most welcome, son of Aristo. You see that I am fast
going where we hope the spirit is to learn its own mysteries.”

Plato, affected at the obvious change in his aged
friend, silently grasped his hand, and turned to answer
the salutation of Philothea. She too had changed;
but she had never been more lovely. The color on
her cheek, which had always been delicate as the
reflected hue of a rose, had become paler by frequent
watchings; but her large dark eyes were more soft
and serious, and her whole countenance beamed with
the bright stillness of a spirit receiving the gift of

The skies were serene; the music of reeds came
upon the ear, softened by distance; while the snowy
fleece of sheep and lambs formed a beautiful contrast
with the rich verdure of the landscape.

“All things around you are tranquil,” said Plato;
“and thus I ever found it, even in corrupted Athens.
Not the stillness of souls that sleep, but the quiet of
life drawn from deep fountains.”

“How did you find our peaceful retreat?” inquired
Philothea. “Did none guide you?”

“Euago of Lampsacus told me what course to pursue,”
he replied; “and not far distant I again asked
of a shepherd boy—well knowing that all the children

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would find out Anaxagoras as readily as bees are
guided to the flowers. As I approached nearer, I saw
at every step new tokens of my friends. The clepsydra,
in the little brook, dropping its pebbles to mark
the hours; the arytæna placed on the rock for thirsty
travellers; the door loaded with garlands placed there
by glad-hearted boys; the tablet covered with mathematical
lines, lying on the wooden bench, sheltered by
grape-vines trained in the Athenian fashion, with a
distaff among the foliage; all these spoke to me of
souls that unite the wisdom of age with the innocence
of childhood.”

“Though we live in indolent Ionia, we still believe
Hesiod's maxim, that industry is the guardian of virtue,”
rejoined Anaxagoras. “Philothea plies her
distaff as busily as Lachesis spinning the thread of
mortal life.” He looked upon his beautiful grandchild,
with an expression full of tenderness, as he added,
“And she does indeed spin the thread of the old man's
life; for her diligent fingers gain my bread. But what
news bring you from unhappy Athens? Is Pericles
yet alive?”

“She is indeed unhappy Athens,” answered Plato.
“The pestilence is still raging; a manifested form of
that inward corruption, which, finding a home in the
will of man, clothed itself in thought, and now completes
its circle in his corporeal nature. The dream
at the cave of Amphiaraus is literally fulfilled. Men
fall down senseless in the street, and the Piræus has
been heaped with unburied dead. All the children of
Clinias are in the Place of Sleep. Hipparete is dead,
with two of her little ones. Pericles himself was one
of the first sufferers; but he was recovered by the skill
of Hippocrates, the learned physician from Cos. His

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former wife is dead, and so is Xanthippus his son.
You know that that proud young man and his extravagant
wife could never forgive the frugality of Pericles.
Even in his dying moments he refused to call him
father, and made no answer to his affectionate inquiries.
Pericles has borne all his misfortunes with the dignity
of an immortal. No one has seen him shed a tear, or
heard him utter a complaint. The ungrateful people
blame him for all their troubles, as if he had omnipotent
power to avert evils. Cleon and Tolmides are triumphant.
Pericles is deprived of office, and fined fifty

He looked at Philothea, and seeing her eyes fixed
earnestly upon him, her lips parted, and an eager flush
spread over her whole countenance, he said, in a tone
of tender solemnity, “Daughter of Alcimenes, your
heart reproaches me, that I forbear to speak of Paralus.
That I have done so, has not been from forgetfulness,
but because I have with vain and self-defeating
prudence sought for cheerful words to convey sad
thoughts. Paralus breathes and moves, but is apparently
unconscious of existence in this world. He is
silent and abstracted, like one just returned from the
cave of Trophonius. Yet, beautiful forms are ever
with him, in infinite variety; for his quiescent soul
has now undisturbed recollection of the divine archetypes
in the ideal world, of which all earthly beauty is
the shadow.”

“He is happy, then, though living in the midst of
death,” answered Philothea: “But does his memory
retain no traces of his friends?”

“One—and one only,” he replied. “The name
of Philothea was too deeply engraven to be washed
away by the waters of oblivion. He seldom speaks;

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but when he does, you are ever in his visions. The
sound of a female voice accompanying the lyre is the
only thing that makes him smile; and nothing moves
him to tears save the farewell song of Orpheus to
Eurydice. In his drawings there is more of majesty
and beauty than Phidias or Myron ever conceived;
and one figure is always there—the Pythia, the Muse,
the Grace, or something combining all these, more
spiritual than either.”

As the maiden listened, tears started from fountains
long sealed, and rested like dew-drops on her dark

Farewell to Eurydice! Oh, how many thoughts
were wakened by those words! They were the last
she heard sung by Paralus, the night Anaxagoras departed
from Athens. Often had the shepherds of Ionia
heard the melancholy notes float on the evening
breeze; and as the sounds died away, they spoke to
each other in whispers, and said, “They come from
the dwellings of the divinely-inspired one!”

Plato perceived that the contemplative maiden was
busy with memories of the past. In a tone of gentle
reverence, he added, “What I have told you proves
that your souls were one, before it wandered from the
divine home; and it gives hope that they will be reunited,
when they return thither, after their weary
exile in the world of shadows.”

“And has this strange pestilence produced such an
effect on Paralus only?” inquired Anaxagoras.

“Many in Athens have recovered health without
any memory of the images of things,” replied Plato;
“but I have known no other instance where recollections
of the ideal world remained more bright and
unimpaired than they possibly can be while disturbed

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by the presence of the visible. Tithonus formerly
told me of similar cases that occurred when the plague
raged in Ethiopia and Egypt; and Artaphernes says
he has seen a learned Magus, residing among the
mountains that overlook Taoces, who recovered from
the plague with a perpetual oblivion of all outward
forms, while he often had knowledge of the thoughts
passing in the minds of those around him. If an unknown
scroll were placed before him, he would read
it, though a brazen shield were interposed between
him and the parchment; and if figures were drawn on
the water, he at once recognized the forms, of which
no visible trace remained.”

“Marvellous, indeed, is the mystery of our being;”
exclaimed Anaxagoras.

“It involves the highest of all mysteries,” rejoined
Plato; “for if man did not contain within himself a
type of all that is,—from the highest to the lowest
plane of existence,—he could not enter the human
form. At times, I have thought glimpses of these
eternal truths were revealed to me; but I lost them
almost as soon as they were perceived, because my
soul dwelt so much with the images of things. Thus
have I stood before the thick veil which conceals the
shrine of Isis, while the narrow streak of brilliant
light around its edges gave indication of unrevealed
glories, and inspired the eager but fruitless hope that
the massive folds would float away, like a cloud before
the sun. There are indeed times when I lose the light
entirely, and cannot even perceive the veil that hides
it from me. This is because my soul, like Psyche
bending over the sleeping Eros, is too curious to examine,
by its own feeble taper, the lineaments of the
divinity whereby it hath been blessed.”

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“How is Pericles affected by this visitation of the
gods upon the best beloved of his children?” inquired

“It has softened and subdued his ambitious soul,”
answered Plato; “and has probably helped him to
endure the loss of political honors with composure. I
have often observed that affliction renders the heart of
man like the heart of a little child; and of this I was
reminded when I parted from Pericles at Salamis,
whence the galley sailed for Ionia. You doubtless
remember the little mound, called Cynos-sema? There
lies the faithful dog, that died in consequence of swimming
after the ship which carried the father of Pericles,
when the Athenians were all leaving their beloved
city, by advice of Themistocles. The illustrious
statesman has not been known to shed a tear amid the
universal wreck of his popularity, his family, and his
friends; but standing by this little mound, the recollections
of childhood came over him, and he wept as
an infant weeps for its lost mother.”

There was a tremulous motion about the lips of the
old man, as he replied, “Perchance he was comparing
the constancy of that affectionate animal with the
friendship of men, and the happy unconsciousness of
his boyhood, with the anxious cares that wait on greatness.
Pericles had a soft heart in his youth; and none
knew this better than the forgotten old man whom he
once called his friend.”

Plato perceived his emotion, and answered, in a
soothing voice, “He has since been wedded to political
ambition, which never brought any man nearer to
his divine home; but Anaxagoras is not forgotten.
Pericles has of late often visited the shades of Academus,
where he has talked much of you and Philothea,

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and expressed earnest hopes that the gods would agaín
restore you to Athens, to bless him with your wise

The aged philosopher shook his head, as he replied,
“They who would have a lamp should take care to
supply it with oil. Had Philothea's affection been
like that of Pericles, this old frame would have perished
for want of food.”

“Nay, Anaxagoras,” rejoined Plato, “you must
not forget that this Peloponessian war, the noisy feuds
in Athens, and afflictions in his own family, have involved
him in continual distractions. He who gives
his mind to politics, sails on a stormy sea, with a giddy
pilot. Pericles has now sent you substantial proofs of
his gratitude; and if his power equalled his wishes, I
have no doubt he would make use of the alarmed state
of public feeling to procure your recall.”

“You have as yet given us no tidings of Phidias and
his household,” said Philothea.

“The form of Phidias sleeps,” replied Plato: “His
soul has returned to those sacred mysteries, once familiar
to him; the recollection of which enabled him
while on earth to mould magnificent images of supernal
forms—images that awakened in all who gazed upon
them some slumbering memory of ideal worlds; though
few knew whence it came, or why their souls were
stirred. The best of his works is the Olympian Zeus,
made at Elis, after his exile. It is far more sublime
than the Pallas Parthenia. The Eleans consider the
possession of it as a great triumph over ungrateful

“Under whose protection is Eudora placed?” inquired

“I have heard that she remains at the house where

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Phidias died,” rejoined Plato. “The Eleans have
given her the yearly revenues of a farm, in consideration
of the affectionate care bestowed on her illustrious
benefactor. Report says that Phidias wished to see
her united to his nephew Pandæmus; but I have never
heard of the marriage. Philæmon is supposed to be in
Persia, instructing the sons of the wealthy satrap

“And where is the faithful Geta?” inquired Anaxagoras.

“Geta is at Lampsacus; and I doubt not will hasten
hither as soon as he has taken care of certain small
articles of merchandize that he brought with him.
Phidias gave him his freedom the day they left Athens;
and after his death, the people of Elis bestowed upon
him fifty drachmæ. He has established himself at
Phalerum, where he tells me he has doubled this sum
by the sale of anchovies. He was eager to attend
upon me, for the sake, as he said, of once more seeing
his good old master Anaxagoras, and that maiden with
mild eyes, who always spoke kind words to the poor;
but I sooner discovered there was a stronger reason
for his desire to visit Lampsacus. From what we had
heard, we expected to find you in the city. Geta
looked very sorrowful, when told that you were fifty
stadia farther from the sea.”

“When we first landed on the Ionion shore,” replied
Anaxagoras, “I took up my abode two stadia
from Lampsacus, and sometimes went thither to lecture
in the porticos. But when I did this, I seemed to
breathe an impure air; and idle young men so often
followed me home, that the maidens were deprived of
the innocent freedom I wished them to enjoy. Here
I feel, more than I have ever felt, the immediate presence
of divinity.”

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“I know not whether it be good or bad,” said
Plato, “but philosophy has wrought in me a dislike
of conversing with many persons. I do not imitate
the Pythagoreans, who close their gates; for I perceive
that truth never ought to be a sealed fountain;
but I cannot go into the Prytaneum, the agoras, and
the workshops, and jest, like Socrates, to captivate the
attention of young men. When I thus seek to impart
hidden treasures, I lose without receiving; and few
perceive the value of what is offered. I feel the
breath of life taken away from me by the multitude.
Their praises cause me to fear; lest, according to
Ibycus, I should offend the gods, but acquire glory
among men. For these reasons, I have resolved never
to abide in cities.”

“The name of Socrates recalls Alcibiades to my
mind,” rejoined Anaxagoras. “Is he still popular with
the Athenians?”

“He is; and will remain so,” replied Plato, “so
long as he feasts them at his own expense, and drinks
three cotylæ of wine at a draught. I know not of
what materials he is made; unless it be of Carpasian
flax, which above all things burns and consumes not.”

“Has this fearful pestilence no power to restrain
the appetites and passions of the people?” inquired
the old man.

“It has but given them more unbridled license,”
rejoined Plato. “Even when the unburied dead lay
heaped in piles, and the best of our equestrians were
gasping in the streets, robbers took possession of their
dwellings, drinking wine from their golden vessels,
and singing impure songs in the presence of their
household gods. Men seek to obtain oblivion of danger
by reducing themselves to the condition of beasts,

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which have no perception above the immediate wants
of the senses. All pursuits that serve to connect the
soul with the world whence it came are rejected.
The Odeum is shut; there is no more lecturing in the
porticos; the temples are entirely forsaken, and even
the Diasia are no longer observed. Some of the better
sort of citizens, weary of fruitless prayers and sacrifices
to Phœbus, Phœbe, Pallas, and the Erinnys, have
erected an altar to the Unknown God; and this altar
only is heaped with garlands, and branches of olive
twined with wool.”

“A short time ago, he who had dared to propose
the erection of such an altar would have been put to
death,” said Anaxagoras. “The pestilence has not
been sent in vain, if the faith in images is shaken, and
the Athenians have been led to reverence One great
Principle of Order, even though they call it unknown.”

“It is fear, unmingled with reverence, in the minds
of many,” replied the philosopher of Academus:
“They are not aware of the existence of truths which
do not depend on the will of the majority; nor can
they conceive of any principles of right and wrong
that may not be changed by vote of the Athenian
people. When health is restored, they will return to
the worship of forms, as readily as they changed from
Pericles to Cleon, and will again change from him to

The aged philosopher shook his head and smiled, as
he said: “Ah, Plato! Plato! where will you find materials
for your ideal republic?”

“In an ideal Atlantis,” replied the Athenian, smiling
in return; “or perchance in the fabled groves of
Argive Hera, where the wild beasts are tamed—the
deer and the wolf lie down together—and the weak

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animal finds refuge from his powerful pursuer. But
the principle of a republic is none the less true, because
mortals make themselves unworthy to receive it.
The best doctrines become the worst, when they are
used for evil purposes. Where a love of power is the
ruling object, the tendency is corruption; and the only
difference between Persia and Athens is, that in one
place power is received by birth, in the other obtained
by cunning.

Thus it will ever be, while men grope in the darkness
of their outward nature; which receives no light
from the inward, because they will not open the doors
of the temple, where a shrine is placed, from which it
ever beams forth with occult and venerable splendor.

Philosophers would do well if they ceased to disturb
themselves with the meaning of mythologic fables
and considered whether they have not within themselves
a serpent possessing more folds than Typhon, and far
more raging and fierce. When the wild beasts within
the soul are destroyed, men will no longer have to
contend against their visible forms.”

“But tell me, O admirable Plato!” said Anaxagoras,
“what connection can there be between the
inward allegorical serpent, and the created form

“One could not exist without the other,” answered
Plato, “because where there is no ideal, there can
be no image. There are doubtless men in other parts
of the universe better than we are, because they stand
on a higher plane of existence, and approach nearer to
the idea of man. The celestial lion is intellectual, but
the sublunary irrational; for the former is nearer the
idea of a lion. The lower planes of existence receive
the influences of the higher, according to the purity

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and stillness of the will. If this be restless and turbid,
the waters from a pure fountain become corrupted, and
the corruption flows down to lower planes of existence,
until it at last manifests itself in corporeal forms. The
sympathy thus produced between things earthly and
celestial is the origin of imagination; by which men
have power to trace the images of supernal forms, invisible
to mortal eyes. Every man can be elevated to
a higher plane by quiescence of the will; and thus
may become a prophet. But none are perfect ones;
because all have a tendency to look downward to the
opinions of men in the same existence with themselves;
and this brings them upon a lower plane, where the
prophetic light glimmers and dies. The Pythia at
Delphi, and the priestess in Dodona, have been the
cause of very trifling benefits, when in a cautious, prudent
state; but when agitated by a divine mania, they
have produced many advantages, both public and private,
to the Greeks.”

The conversation was interrupted by the merry
shouts of children; and presently a troop of boys and
girls appeared, leading two lambs decked with garlands.
They were twin lambs of a ewe that had died;
and they had been trained to suck from a pipe placed
in a vessel of milk. This day for the first time, the
young ram had placed his budding horns under the
throat of his sister lamb, and pushed away her head,
that he might take possession of the pipe himself. The
children were greatly delighted with this exploit, and
hastened to exhibit it before their old friend Anaxagoras,
who always entered into their sports with a cheerful
heart. Philothea replenished the vessel of milk;
and the gambols of the young lambs, with the joyful
laughter of the children, diffused a universal spirit of

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gladness. One little girl filled the hands of the old
philosopher with tender leaves, that the beautifu
animals might come and eat; while another climbed
his knees, and put her little fingers on his venerable
head, saying, “Your hair is as white as the lamb's;
will Philothea spin it, father?”

The maiden, who had been gazing at the little group
with looks full of tenderness, timidly raised her eyes
to Plato, and said, “Son of Aristo, these have not
wandered so far from their divine home as we have!”

The philosopher had before observed the peculiar
radiance of Philothea's expression, when she raised her
downcast eyes; but it never before appeared to him
so much like light suddenly revealed from the inner
shrine of a temple.

With a feeling approaching to worship, he replied,
“Maiden, your own spirit has always remained near
its early glories.”

When the glad troop of children departed, Plato
followed them to see their father's flocks, and play
quoits with the larger boys. Anaxagoras looked after
him with a pleased expression, as he said, “He will
delight their minds, as he has elevated ours. Assuredly,
his soul is like the Homeric chain of gold, one
end of which rests on earth, and the other terminates
in Heaven.”

Mibra was daily employed in fields not far distant,
to tend a neighbor's goats, and Philothea, wishing to
impart the welcome tidings, took up the shell with
which she was accustomed to summon her to her evening
labors. She was about to apply the shell to her
lips, when she perceived the young Arcadian standing
in the vine-covered arbor, with Geta; who had seized
her by each cheek, and was kissing her after the

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fashion of the Grecian peasantry. With a smile and a
blush, the maiden turned away hastily, lest the humble
lovers should perceive they were discovered.

The frugal supper waited long on the table before
Plato returned. As he entered, Anaxagoras pointed
to the board, which rested on rude sticks cut from the
trees, and said, “Son of Aristo, all I have to offer you
are dried grapes, bread, wild honey, and water from
the brook.”

“More I should not taste if I were at the table
of Alcibiades,” replied the philosopher of Athens.
“When I see men bestow much thought on eating
and drinking, I marvel that they will labor so diligently
in building their own prisons. Here, at least,
we can restore the Age of Innocence, when no life was
taken to gratify the appetite of man, and the altars of
the gods were unstained with blood.”

Philothea, contrary to the usual custom of Grecian
women, remained with her grandfather and his guest
during their simple repast, and soon after retired to her
own apartment.

When they were alone, Plato informed his aged
friend that his visit to Lampsacus was at the request of
Pericles. Hippocrates had expressed a hope that the
presence of Philothea might, at least in some degree,
restore the health of Paralus; and the heart-stricken
father had sent to entreat her consent to a union with
his son.

“Philothea would not leave me, even if I urged it
with tears,” replied Anaxagoras; “and I am forbidden
to return to Athens.”

“Pericles has provided an asylum for you, on the
borders of Attica,” answered Plato; “and the young
people would soon join you, after their marriage. He

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did not suppose that his former proud opposition to
their loves would be forgotten; but he said hearts like
yours would forgive it all, the more readily because he
was now a man deprived of power, and his son suffering
under a visitation of the gods. Alcibiades laughed
aloud when he heard of this proposition; and said his
uncle would never think of making it to any but a
maiden who sees the zephyrs run and hears the stars
sing. He spoke truth in his profane merriment. Pericles
knows that she who obediently listens to the inward
voice will be most likely to seek the happiness of others,
forgetful of her own wrongs.”

“I do not believe the tender-hearted maiden ever
cherished resentment against any living thing,” replied
Anaxagoras. “She often reminds me of Hesiod's description
of Leto:

`Placid to men and to immortal gods;
Mild from the first beginning of her days;
Gentlest of all in Heaven.'

She has indeed been a precious gift to my old age.
Simple and loving as she is, there are times when her
looks and words fill me with awe, as if I stood in the
presence of divinity.”

“It is a most lovely union when the Muses and the
Charities inhabit the same temple,” said Plato. “I
think she learned of you to be a constant worshipper of
the innocent and graceful nymphs, who preside over
kind and gentle actions. But tell me, Anaxagoras, if
this marriage is declined, who will protect the daughter
of Alcimenes when you are gone?”

The philosopher replied, “I have a sister Heliodora,
the youngest of my father's flock, who is Priestess of
the Sun, at Ephesus. Of all my family, she has least

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despised me for preferring philosophy to gold; and
report bespeaks her wise and virtuous. I have asked
and obtained from her a promise to protect Philothea
when I am gone; but I will tell my child the wishes
of Pericles, and leave her to the guidance of her own
heart. If she enters the home of Paralus, she will
be to him, as she has been to me a blessing like the

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