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Child, Lydia Maria Francis, 1802-1880 [1836], Philothea (Otis, Broaders & Co., Boston) [word count] [eaf046].
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Thus a poor father, helpless and undone,
Mourns o'er the ashes of an only son;
Takes a sad pleasure the last bones to burn,
And pour in tears, ere yet they close the urn.

[figure description] Page 207.[end figure description]

Of the immense concourse collected together at
Olympia, each one pursued his pleasure, or his interest,
in the way best suited to his taste. Alcibiades
was proud of giving a feast corresponding in magnificence
to the chariots he had brought into the course.
Crowds of parasites flattered him and the other victors,
to receive invitations in return; while a generous few
sympathized with the vanquished. Merchants were
busy forming plans for profitable negociation, and
statesmen were eagerly watching every symptom of
jealousy between rival states and contending parties.

One, amid that mass of human hearts, felt so little
interest in all the world could offer, that she seemed
already removed beyond its influence. Philothea had
herself closed the eyes of her husband, and imprinted
her last kiss upon his lips. Bathed in pure water, and
perfumed with ointment, the lifeless form of Paralus
lay wrapped in the robe he had been accustomed to
wear. A wreath of parsley encircled his head, and
flowers were strewn around him in profusion.

In one hand was placed an obolus, to pay the ferryman
that rowed him across the river of death; and in
the other, a cake made of honey and flour, to appease

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the triple-headed dog, which guarded the entrance to
the world of souls.

The bereaved wife sat by his side, and occasionally
renewed the garlands, with a quiet and serene expression,
as if she still found happiness in being occupied for
him who had given her his heart in the innocence and
freshness of its childhood.

The food prepared by Mibra's active kindness was
scarcely tasted; except when she observed the tears of
her faithful attendant, and sought to soothe her feelings
with characteristic tenderness.

The event soon became universally known; for the
hair of the deceased, consecrated to Persephone, and a
vase of water at the threshold, proclaimed tidings of
death within the dwelling.

Many of the assembled multitude chose to remain
until the funeral solemnities were past; some from
personal affection for Paralus, others from respect to
the son of Pericles.

Plato sent two large vases, filled with wine and
honey; Eudora provided ointments and perfumes;
Alcibiades presented a white cloak, richly embroidered
with silver; and the young men of Athens, present at
the games, gave a silver urn, on which were sculptured
weeping genii, with their torches turned downward.

Enveloped in his glittering mantle, and covered with
flowers, the form of Paralus remained until the third
day. The procession, which was to attend the body
to the funeral pile, formed at morning twilight; for such
was the custom with regard to those who died in their
youth. Philothea followed the bier, dressed in white,
with a wreath of roses and myrtle around her head,
and a garland about the waist. She chose this

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beautiful manner to express her joy that his pure spirit had
passed into Elysium.

At the door of the house, the nearest relatives addressed
the inanimate form, so soon to be removed
from the sight of mortals. In tones of anguish, almost
amounting to despair, Pericles exclaimed: “Oh, my
son! my son! Why didst thou leave us? Why wast
thou, so richly gifted of the gods, to be taken from us
in thy youth? Oh, my son, why was I left to mourn
for thee?”

Instead of the usual shrieks and lamentations of
Grecian women, Philothea said, in sad, heart-moving
accents: “Paralus, farewell! Husband of my youth,
beloved of my heart, farewell!”

Then the dead was carried out; and the procession
moved forward, to the sound of many voices and many
instruments, mingled in a loud and solemn dirge. The
body of Paralus was reverently laid upon the funeral
pile, with the garments he had been accustomed to
wear; his lyre and Phrygian flute; and vases filled
with oil and perfumes.

Plentiful libations of wine, honey, and milk were
poured upon the ground, and the mourners smote the
earth with their feet, while they uttered supplications
to Hermes, Hecate and Pluto. Pericles applied the
torch to the pile, first invoking the aid of Boreas and
Zephyrus, that it might consume quickly. As the
flames rose, the procession walked slowly three times
around the pile, moving toward the left hand. The
solemn dirge was resumed, and continued until the last
flickering tongue of fire was extinguished with wine.
Then those who had borne the silver urn in front of
the hearse, approached. Pericles, with tender reverence,
gathered the whitened bones, sprinkled them

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with wine and perfumes, placed them within the urn,
and covered it with a purple pall, inwrought with gold;
which Philothea's prophetic love had prepared for the

The procession again moved forward, with torches
turned downward; and the remains of Paralus were
deposited in the Temple of Persephone, until his friends
returned to Athens.

In token of gratitude for kind attentions bestowed by
the household of Proclus, Pericles invited his family to
visit the far-famed wonders of the violet-crowned city;
and the eager solicitations of young Pterilaüs induced
the father to accept this invitation for himself and son.
As an inhabitant of consecrated Elis, without wealth,
and unknown to fame, it was deemed that he might
return in safety, even after hostilities were renewed
between the Peloponessian states. Eudora likewise
obtained permission to accompany her friend; and her
sad farewell was cheered by an indefinite hope that
future times would restore her to that quiet home.
The virtuous Melissa parted from them with many
blessings and tears. Zoila was in an agony of childish
sorrow; but she wiped her eyes with the corner of her
robe, and listened, well pleased, to Eudora's parting
promise of sending her a flock of marble sheep, with a
painted wooden shepherd.

The women travelled together in a chariot, in front
of which reposed the silver urn, covered with its purple
pall. Thus sadly did Philothea return through the
same scenes she had lately traversed with hopes, which,
in the light of memory, now seemed like positive enjoyment.
Pericles indeed treated her with truly parental
tenderness; and no soothing attention, that respect
or affection could suggest, was omitted by her

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friends. But he, of whose mysterious existence her
own seemed a necessary portion, had gone to return
no more; and had it not been for the presence of Eudora,
she would have felt that every bond of sympathy
with this world of forms had ceased forever.

At Corinth, the travellers again turned aside to the
Fountain of Poseidon, that the curiosity of Pterilaüs
might be satisfied with a view of the statues by which
it was surrounded.

“When we are in Athens, I will show you something
more beautiful than these,” said Pericles.
“You shall see the Pallas Athenæ, carved by Phidias.”

“Men say it is not so grand as the statue of Zeus,
that we have at Olympia,” replied the boy.

“Had you rather witness the sports of the gymnasia
than the works of artists?” inquired Plato.

The youth answered very promptly, “Ah, no indeed.
I would rather gain one prize from the Choragus,
than ten from the Gymnasiarch. Anniceris, the
Cyrenæan, proudly displayed his skill in chariot-driving,
by riding several times around the Academia,
each time preserving the exact orbit of his wheels.
The spectators applauded loudly; but Plato said, `He
who has bestowed such diligence to acquire trifling
and useless things, must have neglected those that are
truly admirable.' Of all sights in Athens, I most wish
to see the philosophers; and none so much as Plato.”

The company smiled, and the philosopher answered,
“I am Plato.”

“You told us that your name was Aristocles,” returned
Pterilaüs; “and we always called you so.
Once I heard that Athenian lady call you Plato; and
I could not understand why she did so.”

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“I was named Aristocles, for my grandfather,” answered
the philosopher; “and when I grew older, men
called me Plato.”

“But you cannot be the Plato that I mean,” said
Pterilaüs; “for you carried my little sister Zoila on
your shoulders—and played peep with her among the
vines; and when I chased you through the fields, you
ran so fast that I could not catch you.”

The philosopher smiled, as he replied, “Nevertheless,
I am Plato; and they call me by that name, because
my shoulders are broad enough to carry little

The boy still insisted that he alluded to another
Plato. “I mean the philosopher, who teaches in the
groves of Academus,” continued he. “I knew a
freedman of his, who said he never allowed himself to
be angry, or to speak in a loud voice. He never but
once raised his hand to strike him; and that was because
he had mischievously upset a poor old woman's basket
of figs; feeling that he was in a passion, he suddenly
checked himself, and stood perfectly still. A friend
coming in asked him what he was doing; and the philosopher
replied, `I am punishing an angry man.'

“Speusippus, his sister's son, was such a careless,
indecent, and boisterous youth, that his parents could
not control him. They sent him to his uncle Plato,
who received him in a friendly manner, and forbore to
reproach him. Only in his own example he was always
modest and placid. This so excited the admiration
of Speusippus, that a love of philosophy was kindled
within him. Some of his relatives blamed Plato,
because he did not chastise the impertinent youth; but
he replied, “There is no reproof so severe as to show
him, by the manner of my own life, the contrast between

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virtue and baseness.'—That is the Plato I want you
to show me, when we are in Athens.”

Proclus, perceiving a universal smile, modestly
added, by way of explanation: “My son means him
whom men call the divine Plato. He greatly desires
to see that philosopher, of whom it is said Socrates
dreamed, when he first received him as his pupil. In
his dream he saw a swan without wings, that came and
sat upon his bosom; and soon after, its wings grew,
and it flew high up in the air, with melodious notes,
alluring all who heard it.”

Pericles laid his hand on the philosopher's shoulder,
and smiling, answered, “My unbelieving friend, this
is the teacher of Academus; this is the divine Plato;
this is the soaring swan, whose melodious notes allure
all that hear him.”

Proclus was covered with confusion, but still seemed
half incredulous. “What would Melissa say,” exclaimed
he, “if she knew that her frolicsome little
plaything, Zoila, had been rude enough to throw flowers
at the divine Plato.”

“Nay, my friend,” replied the disciple of Socrates—
what better could a philosopher desire, than to be
pelted with roses by childhood?”

Eudora looked up with an arch expression; and
Philothea smiled as she said, “This is a new version
of unknown Phœbus tending the flocks of Admetus.”

Pterilaüs seemed utterly confounded by a discovery
so unexpected. It was long before he regained his
usual freedom; and from time to time he was observed
to fix a scrutinizing gaze on the countenance of Plato,
as if seeking to read the mystery of his hidden greatness.

As the travellers approached Athens, they were met

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by a numerous procession of magistrates, citizens, and
young men bearing garlands, which they heaped on
the urn in such profusion that it resembled a pyramid
of flowers. They passed the chariots with their arms
and ensigns of office all reversed; then turned and
followed to the abode of Pericles, singing dirges as
they went, and filling the air with the melancholy
music of the Mysian flute.

The amiable character of the deceased, his genius,
the peculiar circumstances attending his death, and
the accumulated afflictions of his illustrious parent, all
combined to render it an impressive scene. Even the
gay selfishness of Alcibiades was subdued into reverence,
as he carefully took the urn from the chariot,
and gave it to attendants who placed it beside the
household altar.

Early the next morning, a procession again formed
to convey the ashes of Paralus to the sepulchre of his
fathers; called, in the beautiful language of the Greeks,
a Place of Sleep.

When the urn was again brought forth, Philothea's
long golden hair covered it, like a mantle of sunbeams.
During his life-time, these shining tresses
had been peculiarly dear to him; and in token of her
love, she placed them on his grave. Her white robe
was changed for coarse black garments; and instead
of flowery wreaths, a long black veil covered the beautiful
head, from which its richest ornament had just
been severed. She had rejoiced for his happy spirit,
and now she mourned her own widowed lot.

At the sepulchre, Pericles pronounced a funeral
oration on the most gifted, and best-beloved of his
children. In the evening, kindred and friends met at
his house to partake a feast prepared for the occasion;

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and every guest had something to relate concerning
the genius and the virtues of him who slept.

A similar feast was prepared in the apartments of the
women, where Philothea remained silent and composed;
a circumstance that excited no small degree of
wonder and remark, among those who measured affection
by the vehemence of grief.

As soon as all ceremonies were completed she obtained
leave to return to her early home, endeared by
many happy scenes; and there, in the stillness of her
own heart, she held communion with the dear departed.

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