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Child, Lydia Maria Francis, 1802-1880 [1836], Philothea (Otis, Broaders & Co., Boston) [word count] [eaf046].
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Adieu, thou sun, and fields of golden light;
For the last time I drink thy radiance bright,
And sink to sleep.

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The galley that brought Plato from Athens was sent
on a secret political mission, and was not expected to
revisit Lampsacus until the return of another moon.
Anaxagoras, always mindful of the happiness of those
around him, proposed that the constancy of faithful
Geta should be rewarded by an union with Mibra.
The tidings were hailed with joy; not only by the
young couple, but by all the villagers. The superstition
of the little damsel did indeed suggest numerous
obstacles. The sixteenth of the month must on no
account be chosen; one day was unlucky for a wedding,
because as she returned from the fields an old
woman busy at the distaff had directly crossed her
path; and another was equally so, because she had
seen a weasel, without remembering to throw three
stones as it passed. But at last there came a day
against which no objections could be raised. The sky
was cloudless, and the moon at its full; both deemed
propitious omens. A white kid had been sacrificed to
Artemis, and baskets of fruit and poppies been duly
placed upon her altar. The long white veil woven by
Mibra and laid by for this occasion, was taken out to
be bleached in the sunshine and dew. Philothea

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presented a zone, embroidered by her own skillful hands;
Anaxagoras bestowed a pair of sandals laced with
crimson; and Geta purchased a bridal robe of flaming

Plato promised to supply the feast with almonds and
figs. The peasant, whose goats Mibra had tended, sent
six large vases of milk, borne by boys crowned with
garlands. And the matrons of the village, with whom
the kind little Arcadian had ever been a favorite,
presented a huge cake, carried aloft on a bed of flowers,
by twelve girls clothed in white. The humble
residence of the old philosopher was almost covered
with the abundant blossoms brought by joyful children.
The door posts were crowned with garlands annointed
with oil, and bound with fillets of wool. The bride
and bridegroom were carried in procession, on a litter
made of the boughs of trees, plentifully adorned with
garlands and flags of various colors; preceded by
young men playing on reeds and flutes, and followed
by maidens bearing a pestle and sieve. The priest
performed the customary sacrifices at the altar of
Hera; the omens were propitious; libations were
poured; and Mibra returned to her happy home, the
wife of her faithful Geta. Feasting continued till late
in the evening, and the voice of music was not hushed
until past the hour of midnight.

The old philosopher joined in the festivities, and in
the cheerfulness of his heart exerted himself beyond
his strength. Each succeeding day found him more
feeble; and Philothea soon perceived that the staff on
which she had leaned from her childhood was about to
be removed forever. On the twelfth day after Mibra's
wedding, he asked to be led into the open portico, that
he might enjoy the genial warmth. He gazed on the

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bright landscape, as if it had been the countenance of
a friend. Then looking upward, with a placid smile,
he said to Plato, “You tell me that Truth acts upon
the soul like the Sun upon the eye, when it turneth to
him. Would that I could be as easily and certainly
placed in the light of truth, as I have been in this
blessed sunshine! But in vain I seek to comprehend
the mystery of my being. All my thoughts on this
subject are dim and shadowy, as the ghosts seen by
Odysseus on the Stygian shore.”

Plato answered: “Thus it must ever be, while the
outward world lies so near us, and the images of things
crowd perpetually on the mind. An obolus held close
to the eye may prevent our seeing the moon and the
stars; and thus does the ever-present earth exclude
the glories of Heaven. But in the midst of uncertainty
and fears, one feeling alone remains; and that is hope,
strong as belief, that virtue can never die. In pity to
the cravings of the soul, something will surely be given
in future time more bright and fixed than the glimmering
truths preserved in poetic fable; even as radiant
stars a rose from the ashes of Orion's daughters, to shine
in the heavens an eternal crown.”

The old man replied, “I have, as you well know,
been afraid to indulge in your speculations concerning
the soul, lest I should spend my life in unsatisfied attempts
to embrace beautiful shadows.”

“To me likewise they have sometimes appeared
doctrines too high and solemn to be taught,” rejoined
Plato: “Often when I have attempted to clothe them
in language, the airy forms have glided from me,
mocking me with their distant beauty. We are told
of Tantalus surrounded by water that flows away when
he attempts to taste it, and with delicious fruits above

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his head, carried off by a sudden wind whenever he
tries to seize them. It was his crime that, being admitted
to the assemblies of Olympus, he brought away
the nectar and ambrosia of the gods, and gave them
unto mortals. Sometimes, when I have been led to
discourse of ideal beauty, with those who perceive only
the images of things, the remembrance of that unhappy
son of Zeus has awed me into silence.”

While they were yet speaking, the noise of approaching
wheels was heard, and presently a splendid chariot,
with four white horses, stopped before the humble

A stranger, in purple robes, descended from the
chariot, followed by servants carrying a seat of ivory
inlaid with silver, a tuft of peacock feathers to brush
away the insects, and a golden box filled with perfumes.
It was Chrysippus, prince of Clazomenæ,
the nephew of Anaxagoras. He had neglected and
despised the old man in his poverty, but had now come
to congratulate him on the rumor of Philothea's approaching
marriage with the son of Pericles. The
aged philosopher received him with friendly greeting,
and made him known to Plato. Chrysippus gave a
glance at the rude furniture of the portico, and gathered
his perfumed robes carefully about him.

“Son of Basileon, it is the dwelling of cleanliness,
though it be the abode of poverty,” said the old man,
in a tone of mild reproof.

Geta had officiously brought a wooden bench for the
high-born guest; but he waited till his attendants had
opened the ivory seat, and covered it with crimson
cloth, before he seated himself, and replied: “Truly,
I had not expected to find the son of Hegesibulus in
so mean a habitation. No man would conjecture that
you were the descendant of princes.”

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With a quiet smile, the old man answered, “Princes
have not wished to proclaim kindred with Anaxagoras;
and why should he desire to perpetuate the remembrance
of what they have forgotten?”

Chrysippus looked toward Plato, and with some
degree of embarrassment sought to excuse himself, by
saying, “My father often told me that it was your
own choice to withdraw from your family; and if they
have not since offered to share their wealth with you,
it is because you have ever been improvident of your

“What! Do you not take charge of them?” inquired
Anaxagoras. “I gave my estates to your
father, from the conviction that he would take better
care of them than I could do; and in this I deemed
myself most provident.”

“But you went to Athens, and took no care for your
country,” rejoined the prince.

The venerable philosopher pointed to the heavens,
that smiled serenely above them, and said, “Nay
young man, my greatest care has ever been for my

In a more respectful tone, Chrysippus rejoined:
“Anaxagoras, all men speak of your wisdom; but does
this fame so far satisfy you, that you never regret you
sacrificed riches to philosophy?”

“I am satisfied with the pursuit of wisdom, not with
the fame of it,” replied the sage. “In my youth I
greatly preferred wisdom to gold; and as I approach
the Stygian shore, gold has less and less value in my
eyes. Charon will charge my disembodied spirit but
a single obolus for crossing his dark ferry. Living
mortals only need a golden bough to enter the regions
of the dead.”

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The prince seemed thoughtful for a moment, as he
gazed on the benevolent countenance of his aged

“If it be as you have said, Anaxagoras is indeed
happier than princes,” he replied. “But I came to
speak of the daughter of Alcimenes. I have heard
that she is beautiful, and the destined wife of Paralus
of Athens.”

“It is even so,” said the philosopher; “and it
would gladden my heart, if I might be permitted to see
her placed under the protection of Pericles, before I

“Has a sufficient dowry been provided?” inquired
Chrysippus. “No one of our kindred must enter the
family of Pericles as a slave.”

A slight color mantled in the old man's cheeks, as
he answered, “I have friends in Athens, who will not
see my precious child suffer shame for want of a few

“I have brought with me a gift, which I deemed in
some degree suited- to the dignity of our ancestors,”
rejoined the prince; “and I indulged the hope of giving
it into the hands of the maiden.”

As he spoke, he made a signal to his attendants,
who straightway brought from the chariot a silver
tripod lined with gold, and a bag containing a hundred
golden staters. At the same moment, Mibra entered,
and in a low voice informed Anaxagoras that Philothea
deemed this prolonged interview with the stranger
dangerous to his feeble health; and begged that he
would suffer himself to be placed on the couch. The
invalid replied by a message desiring her presence.
As she entered, he said to her, “Philothea behold your
kinsman Chrysippus, son of Basileon.”

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The illustrious guest was received with the same
modest and friendly greeting that would have been
bestowed on the son of a worthy peasant. The prince
felt slightly offended that his splendid dress and magnificent
equipage produced so little effect on the
family of the philosopher; but as the fame of Philothea's
beauty had largely mingled with other inducements
to make the visit, he endeavored to conceal his
pride, and as he offered the rich gifts, said in a respectful
tone, “Daughter of Alcimenes, the tripod is from
Heliodora, Priestess at Ephesus. The golden coin is
from my own coffers. Accept them for a dowry; and
allow me to claim one privilege in return. As I cannot
be at the marriage feast, to share the pleasures of
other kinsmen, permit the son of Basileon to see you
now one moment without your veil.”

He waved his hand for his attendants to withdraw;
but the maiden hesitated, until Anaxagoras said mildly,
“Chrysippus is of your father's kindred; and it is discreet
that his request be granted.”

Philothea timidly removed her veil, and a modest
blush suffused her lovely countenance, as she said,
“Thanks, Prince of Clazomenæ, for these munificent
gifts. May the gods long preserve you a blessing to
your family and people.”

“The gifts are all unworthy of her who receives
them,” replied Chrysippus, gazing so intently that
the maiden, with rosy confusion, replaced her veil.

Anaxagoras invited his royal guest to share a philosopher's
repast, to which he promised should be
added a goblet of wine, lately sent from Lampsacus.
The prince courteously accepted his invitation; and
the kind old man, wearied with the exertions he had
made, was borne to his couch in an inner apartment.

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When Plato had assisted Philothea and Mibra in
arranging his pillows, and folding the robe about his
feet, he returned to the portico. Philothea supposed
the stranger was about to follow him; and without
raising her head, as she bent over her grandfather's
couch, she said: “He is feeble, and needs repose. In
the days of his strength he would not have thus left
you to the courtesy of our Athenian guest.”

“Would to the gods that I had sought him sooner!”
rejoined Chrysippus. “While I have gathered foreign
jewels, I have been ignorant of the gems in my
own family.”

Then stooping down, he took Anaxagoras by the
hand, and said affectionately, “Have you nothing to
ask of your brother's son?”

“Nothing but your prayers for us, and a gentle
government for your people,” answered the old man.
“I thank you for your kindness to this precious orphan.
For myself, I am fast going where I shall need
less than ever the gifts of princes.”

“Would you not like to be buried with regal honor,
in your native Clazomenæ?” inquired the prince.

The philosopher again pointed upward as he replied,
“Nay. The road to heaven would be no shorter from

“And what monument would you have reared to
mark the spot where Anaxagoras sleeps?” said

“I wish to be buried after the ancient manner, with
the least possible trouble and expense,” rejoined the
invalid. “The money you would expend for a monument
may be given to some captive sighing in bondage.
Let an almond tree be planted near my grave, that
the boys may love to come there, as to a pleasant

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“The citizens of Lampsacus, hearing of your illness,
requested me to ask what they should do in honor of
your memory, when it pleased the gods to call you
hence. What response do you give to this message?'
inquired the prince.

The philosopher answered, “Say to them that I desire
all the children may have a holiday on the anniversary
of my death.”

Chrysippus remained silent for a few moments; and
then continued: “Anaxagoras, I perceive that you
are strangely unlike other mortals; and I know not
how you will receive the proposal I am about to make.
Philothea has glided from the apartment, as if afraid
to remain in my presence. That graceful maiden is
too lovely for any destiny meaner than a royal marriage.
As a kinsman, I have the best claim to her;
and if it be your will, I will divorce my Phœnician
Astarte, and make Philothea princess of Clazomenæ.”

“Thanks, son of Basileon,” replied the old man;
“but I love the innocent orphan too well to bestow
upon her the burthen and the dangers of royalty.”

“None could dispute your own right to exchange
power and wealth for philosophy and poverty,” said
Chrysippus; “but though you are the lawful guardian
of this maiden, I deem it unjust to reject a splendid
alliance without her knowledge.”

“Philothea gave her affections to Paralus even in
the days of their childhood,” replied Anaxagoras; and
she is of a nature too divine to place much value on
the splendor that passes away.”

The prince seemed disturbed and chagrined by this
imperturbable spirit of philosophy; and after a few
brief remarks retreated to the portico.

Here he entered into conversation with Plato; and

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after some general discourse, spoke of his wishes with
regard to Philothea. “Anaxagoras rejects the alliance,”
said he, smiling; “but take my word for it,
the maiden would not dismiss the matter thus lightly.
I have never yet seen a woman who preferred philosophy
to princes.”

“Kings are less fortunate than philosophers,” responded
Plato; “I have known several women who
preferred wisdom to gold. Could Chrysippus look
into those divine eyes, and yet believe that Philothea's
soul would rejoice in the pomp of princes?”

The wealthy son of Basileon still remained incredulous
of any exceptions to woman's vanity; and finally
obtained a promise from Plato that he would use his
influence with his friend to have the matter left entirely
to Philothea's decision.

When the maiden was asked by her grandfather,
whether she would be the wife of Paralus, smitten by
the hand of disease, or princess of Clazomenæ, surrounded
by more grandeur than Penelope could boast
in her proudest days—her innocent countenance expressed
surprise not unmingled with fear that the mind
of Anaxagoras was wandering. But when assured
that Chrysippus seriously proposed to divorce his wife
and marry her, a feeling of humiliation came over her,
that a man, ignorant of the qualities of her soul, should
be thus captivated by her outward beauty, and regard
it as a thing to be bought with gold. But the crimson
tint soon subsided from her transparent cheek, and
she quietly replied, “Tell the Prince of Clazomenæ
that I have never learned to value riches; nor could I
do so, without danger of being exiled far from my divine

When these words were repeated to Chrysippus, he

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exclaimed impatiently, “Curse on the folly which
philosophers dignify with the name of wisdom!”

After this, nothing could restore the courtesy he had
previously assumed. He scarcely tasted the offered
fruit and wine; bade a cold farewell, and soon rolled
away in his splendid chariot, followed by his train of

This unexpected interview produced a singular excitement
in the mind of Anaxagoras. All the occurrences
of his youth passed vividly before him; and
things forgotten for years were remembered like events
of the past hour. Plato sat by his side till the evening
twilight deepened, listening as he recounted scenes
long since witnessed in Athens. When they entreated
him to seek repose, he reluctantly assented, and said
to his friend, with a gentle pressure of the hand, “Farewell,
son of Aristo. Pray for me before you retire to
your couch.”

Plato parted the silver hairs and imprinted a kiss on
his forehead; then crowning himself with a garland,
he knelt before an altar that stood in the apartment,
and prayed aloud: “O thou, who art King of Heaven,
life and death are in thy hand! Grant what is good
for us, whether we ask it, or ask it not; and refuse
that which would be hurtful, even when we ask it most

“That contains the spirit of all prayer,” said the
old philosopher. “And now, Plato, go to thy rest;
and I will go to mine. Very pleasant have thy words
been to me. Even like the murmuring of fountains in
a parched and sandy desert.”

When left alone with his grandchild and Mibra, the
invalid still seemed unusually excited, and his eyes
shone with unwonted brightness. Again he recurred

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to his early years, and talked fondly of his wife and
children. He dwelt on the childhood of Philothea with
peculiar pleasure. “Often, very often,” said he,
“thy infant smiles and artless speech led my soul to
divine things; when, without thee, the link would have
been broken, and the communication lost.”

He held her hand affectionately in his, and often
drew her toward him, that he might kiss her cheek.
Late in the night sleep began to steal over him with
gentle influence; and Philothea was afraid to move,
lest she should disturb his slumbers.

Mibra reposed on a couch close by her side, ready
to obey the slightest summons; the small earthen
lamp that stood on the floor, shaded by an open tablet,
burned dim; and the footsteps of Plato were faintly
heard in the stillness of the night, as he softly paced to
and fro in the open portico.

Philothea leaned her head upon the couch, and gradually
yielded to the drowsy influence.

When she awoke, various objects in the apartment
were indistinctly revealed by the dawning light. All
was deeply quiet. She remained kneeling by her
grandfather's side, and her hand was still clasped in
his; but it was chilled beneath his touch. She arose,
gently placed his arm on the couch, and looked upon
his face. A placid smile rested on his features; and
she saw that his spirit had passed in peace.

She awoke Mibra, and desired that the household
might be summoned. As they stood around the couch
of that venerable man, Geta and Mibra wept bitterly;
but Philothea calmly kissed his cold cheek; and Plato
looked on him with serene affection, as he said, “So
sleep the good.”

A lock of grey hair suspended on the door, and a

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large vase of water at the threshold, early announced
to the villagers that the soul of Anaxagoras had passed
from its earthly tenement. The boys came with garlands
to decorate the funeral couch of the beloved old
man; and no tribute of respect was wanting; for all
that knew him blessed his memory.

He was buried, as he had desired, near the clepsydra
in the little brook; a young almond tree was
planted on his grave; and for years after, all the children
commemorated the anniversary of his death, by a
festival, called Anaxagoreia.

Pericles had sent two discreet matrons, and four
more youthful attendants, to accompany Philothea to
Athens, in case she consented to become the wife of
Paralus. The morning after the decease of Anaxagoras,
Plato sent a messenger to Lampsacus, desiring
the presence of these women, accompanied by Euago
and his household. As soon as the funeral rites were
passed, he entreated Philothea to accept the offered
protection of Euago, the friend of his youth, and connected
by marriage with the house of Pericles. “I
urge it the more earnestly,” said he, “because I think
you have reason to fear the power and resentment of
Chrysippus. Princes do not willingly relinquish a
pursuit; and his train could easily seize you and your
attendants, without resistance from these simple villagers.”

Aglaonice, wife of Euago, likewise urged the orphan,
in the most affectionate manner, to return with them to
Lampsacus, and there await the departure of the galley.
Philothea acknowledged the propriety of removal,
and felt deeply thankful for the protecting influence
of her friends. The simple household furniture
was given to Mibra; her own wardrobe, with many

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little things that had become dear to her, were deposited
in the chariot of Euago; the weeping villagers
had taken an affectionate farewell; and sacrifices to
the gods had been offered on the altar in front of the

Still Philothea lingered and gazed on the beautiful
scenes where she had passed so many tranquil hours.
Tears mingled with her smiles, as she said, “O, how
hard it is to believe the spirit of Anaxagoras will be as
near me in Athens as it is here, where his bones lie

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