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Child, Lydia Maria Francis, 1802-1880 [1836], Philothea (Otis, Broaders & Co., Boston) [word count] [eaf046].
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All is prepared—the table and the feast—
With due appurtenance of clothes and cushions.
Chaplets and dainties of all kinds abound:
Here rich perfumes are seen—there cakes and cates
Of every fashion; cakes of honey, cakes
Of sesamus, and cakes of unground corn:
What more? A troop of dancing women fair,
And minstrels who may chaunt us sweet Harmodius.

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The room in which the guests were assembled, was
furnished with less of Asiatic splendor than the private
apartment of Aspasia; but in its magnificent simplicity,
there was a more perfect manifestation of ideal beauty.
It was divided in the middle by eight Ionic columns
alternately of Phrygian and Pentelic marble. Between
the central pillars stood a superb statue from the hand
of Phidias, representing Aphrodite guided by love and
crowned by the goddess of Persuasion. Around the
walls were Phœbus and Hermes in Parian marble, and
the nine Muses in ivory. A fountain of perfumed
water from the adjoining room diffused coolness and
fragrance as it passed through a number of concealed
pipes, and finally flowed into a magnificent vase, supported
by a troop of Naiades.

In a recess stood the famous lion of Myron, surrounded
by infant loves, playing with his paws, climbing
his back, and decorating his neck with garlands. This
beautiful group seemed actually to live and move in the
clear light and deep shadows derived from a silver lamp
suspended above.

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The walls were enriched with some of the choicest
paintings of Apollodorus, Zeuxis, and Polygnotus.
Near a fine likeness of Pericles, by Aristoläüs, was
Aspasia, represented as Chloris scattering flowers over
the earth, and attended by winged Hours.

It chanced that Pericles himself reclined beneath
his portrait, and though political anxiety had taken
from his countenance something of the cheerful freshness
which characterized the picture, he still retained
the same elevated beauty—the same deep, quiet expression
of intellectual power. At a short distance,
with his arm resting on the couch, stood his nephew
Alcibiades, deservedly called the handsomest man in
Athens. He was laughing with Hermippus, the comic
writer, whose shrewd, sarcastic and mischievous face
was expressive of his calling. Phidias slowly paced
the room, talking of the current news with the Persian
Artaphernes. Anaxogoras reclined near the statue of
Aphrodite, listening and occasionally speaking to Plato,
who leaned against one of the marble pillars, in earnest
conversation with a learned Ethiopian.

The gorgeous apparel of the Asiatic and African
guests, contrasted strongly with the graceful simplicity
of Grecian costume. A saffron-colored mantle and
a richly embroidered Median vest glittered on the person
of the venerable Artaphernes. Tithonus, the Ethiopian,
wore a skirt of ample folds, which scarcely fell
below the knee. It was of the glorious Tyrian hue,
resembling a crimson light shining through transparent
purple. The edge of the garment was curiously
wrought with golden palm leaves. It terminated at
the waist in a large roll, twined with massive chains
of gold, and fastened by a clasp of the far-famed
Ethiopian topaz. The upper part of his person was

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uncovered and unornamented, save by broad bracelets
of gold, which formed a magnificent contrast with the
sable color of his vigorous and finely-proportioned

As the ladies entered, the various groups came forward
to meet them; and all were welcomed by Aspasia
with earnest cordiality and graceful self-possession.
While the brief salutations were passing, Hipparete,
the wife of Alcibiades, came from an inner apartment,
where she had been waiting for her hostess. She was
a fair, amiable young matron, evidently conscious of
her high rank. The short blue tunic, which she wore
over a lemon-colored robe, was embroidered with
golden grasshoppers; and on her forehead sparkled a
jewelled inseet of the same species. It was the emblem
of unmixed Athenian blood; and Hipparete alone, of all
the ladies present, had a right to wear it. Her manners
were an elaborate copy of Aspasia; but deprived
of the powerful charm of unconsciousness, which flowed
like a principle of life into every motion of that beautiful

The momentary silence, so apt to follow introductions,
was interrupted by an Ethiopian boy, who, at a
signal from Tithonus, emerged from behind the columns,
and kneeling, presented to Aspasia a beautiful
box of ivory, inlaid with gold, filled with the choicest
perfumes. The lady acknowledged the costly offering
by a gracious smile, and a low bend of the head toward
the giver.

The ivory was wrought with exquisite skill, representing
the imaginary forms of the constellations, studded
with golden stars. The whole rested on a golden
image of Atlas, bending beneath the weight. The box
was passed from hand to hand, and excited universal

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“Were these figures carved by an artist of your own
country?” asked Phidias.

With a smile, Tithonus replied, “You ask the question
because you see a Grecian spirit in those forms.
They were indeed fashioned by an Ethiopian; but one
who had long resided in Athens.”

“There is truly a freedom and variety in these
figures, which I have rarely seen even in Greece,”
rejoined Phidias; “and I have never met with those
characteristics in Ethiopian or Egyptian workmanship.”

“They belong not to the genius of those countries,”
answered Tithonus: “Philosophy and the arts are but
a manifestation of the intelligible ideas that move the
public mind; and thus they become visible images of
the nations whence they emanate. The philosophy of
the East is misty and vast—with a gleam of truth here
and there, resting like sunlight on the edge of a dark
and mighty cloud. Hence our architecture and statuary
is massive, and of immense proportions. Greece is
free—therefore she has a philosopher who sees that
every idea must have a form, and in every form discovers
its appropriate life. And because philosophy
has perceived that the principle of vitality and beauty
flows from the divine mind into each and every earthly
thing, therefore Greece has a sculptor who can mould
his thoughts into marble forms, from which the free
grandeur of the soul emanates like a perpetual presence.”
As he spoke, he bowed low to Plato and

“The gigantic statues of Sicily have fair proportions,”
said Plato; “and they have life; but it is life
in deep repose. There is the vastness of eternity,
without the activity of time.”

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“The most ancient statuary of all nations is an
image of death; not of sleeping energy,” observed
Aspasia. “The arms adhere rigidly to the sides, the
feet form one block; and even in the face, the divine
ideal seems struggling hard to enter the reluctant
form. But, thanks to Pygmalion of Cyprus, we now
have the visible impress of every passion carved in
stone. The spirit of beauty now flows freely into the
harmonious proportions, even as the oracle is filled
by the inspiration of the god. Now the foot bounds
from the pedestal, the finger points to the stars, and
life breathes from every limb. But in good time the
Lybian pipe warns us that the feast is ready. We
must not soar too far above the earth, while she offers
us the richest treasures of her fruit-trees and vines.”

“Yet it is ever thus, when Plato is with us,” exclaimed
Pericles. “He walks with his head among
the stars—and, by a magic influence, we rise to his
elevation, until we perceive the shadows of majestic
worlds known in their reality only to the gods. As
the approach of Phœbus fills the priestess with prophecy,
so does this son of Phæbus impart something
of his own eloquence to all who come within its

“You speak truly, O Pericles,” replied Tithonus;
“but it is a truth felt only by those who are in some
measure worthy to receive it. Aspasia said wisely,
that the spirit of beauty flows in, only where the proportions
are harmonious. The gods are ever with us,
but few feel the presence of the gods.”

Philothea, speaking in a low tone to Eudora, added,
“And Plato rejoices in their glorious presence; not
only because he walks with his head among the stars,
but because he carries in his heart a blessing for every
little child.”

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These words, though spoken almost in a whisper,
reached the ear of the philosopher himself; and he
turned toward the lovely speaker with a beaming
glance, which distinctly told that his choicest blessings
were bestowed upon spirits pure and gentle as
her own.

Thus conversing, the guests passed between the
marble columns, and entered that part of the room
where the banquet was prepared. Aspasia filled a
golden basket with Athenian olives, Phænician dates,
and almonds of Naxos, and whispering a brief invocation,
placed it on a small altar, before an ivory image
of Demeter, which stood in the midst of the table.
Seats covered with crimson cloth were arranged at the
end of the couches, for the accommodation of women;
but the men reclined in Asiatic fashion, while beautiful
damsels sprinkled perfumes on their heads, and offered
water for their hands in vases of silver.

In choosing one to preside over the festivities of the
evening, the lot fell upon Tithonus; but he gracefully
declined the office, saying it properly belonged to an

“Then I must insist that you appoint your successor,”
said Aspasia.

“Your command partakes little of the democracy of
Athenian institutions,” answered he, smiling; “but I
obey it cheerfully; and will, as most fitting, crown the
wisest.” He arose, as he spoke, and reverentially
placed the chaplet on the head of Plato.

“I will transfer it to the most beautiful,” rejoined
the philosopher; and he attempted to place the garland
on the brow of Alcibiades. But the young man prevented
him, and exclaimed, “Nay—according to your
own doctrines, O admirable Plato, wisdom should wear
the crown; since beauty is but its outward form.”

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Thus urged, Plato accepted the honors of the banquet;
and taking a handful of garlands from the golden
urn on which they were suspended, he proceeded to
crown the guests. He first placed upon Aspasia's
head a wreath of bright and variegated flowers, among
which the rose and the myrtle were most conspicuous.
Upon Hipparete he bestowed a coronal of violets,
regarded by the proud Athenians as their own peculiar
flower. Philothea received a crown of pure white

Aspasia, observing this, exclaimed, “Tell me, O
Plato, how you knew that wreath, above all the others,
was woven for the grand-daughter of Anaxagoras?”

“When I hear a note of music, can I not at once
strike its chord? answered the philosopher: “Even
as surely is there an everlasting harmony between the
soul of man and the visible forms of creation. If there
were no innocent hearts, there would be no white

A shadow passed over Aspasia's expressive countenance;
for she was aware that her own brilliant wreath
contained not one purely white blossom. But her features
had been well trained to conceal her sentiments;
and her usual vivacity instantly returned.

The remainder of the garlands were bestowed so
rapidly, that there seemed scarcely time for deliberate
choice; yet Pericles wore the oak leaves sacred to
Zeus; and the laurel and olive of Phæbus rested on
the brow of Phidias.

A half mischievous smile played round Aspasia's
lips, when she saw the wreath of ivy and grape leaves
placed on the head of Alcibiades. “Son of Aristo,”
she exclaimed, “the Phœnician Magi have given you
good skill in divination. You have bestowed every
garland appropriately.”

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“It needed little magic,” replied Plato, “to know
that the oaken leaves belonged to one whose eloquence
is so often called Olympian; or that the laurel was due
to him who fashioned Pallas Parthenia; and Alcibiades
would no doubt contend boldly with any man who professed
to worship the god of vineyards with more zeal
than himself.”

The gay Athenian answered this challenge by singing
part of an Anacreontic ode often repeated during
the festivities of the Dionysia:

“To day I'll haste to quaff my wine,
As if to-morrow ne'er should shine;
But if to-morrow comes, why then—
I'll haste to quaff my wine again.
For death may come with brow unpleasant—
May come when least we wish him present,
And beckon to the sable shore,
And grimly bid us— drink no more!”

This profane song was sung in a voice so clear and
melodious, that Tithonus exclaimed, “You err, O
Plato, in saying the tuneful soul of Marsyas has passed
into the nightingale; for surely it remains with this
young Athenian. Son of Clinias, you must be well
skilled in playing upon the flute the divine airs of
Mysian Olympus?”

“Not I, so help me Dionysus!” lisped Alcibiades.
“My music master will tell you that I ever went to
my pipes reluctantly. I make ten sacrifices to equestrian
Poseidon, where I offer one gift to the Parnassian

“Stranger, thou hast not yet learned the fashions of
Athens,” said Anaxagoras, gravely. “Our young
equestrians now busy themselves with carved chariots,
and Persian mantles of the newest mode. They vie

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with each other in costly wines; train doves to sho wer
luxuriant perfumes from their wings; and upon the
issue of a contest between fighting quails, they stake
sums large enough to endow a princess. To play upon
the silver-voiced flute is Theban-like and vulgar. They
leave that to their slaves.”

“And why not leave laughter to the slaves?” asked
Hermippus; “since anything more than a graceful
smile distorts the beauty of the features? I suppose
bright eyes would weep in Athens, should the cheeks
of Alcibiades be seen puffed out with vulgar wind-instruments.”

“And can you expect the youth of Athens to be
wiser than their gods?” rejoined Aspasia. “Pallas
threw away her favorite flute, because Hera and
Aphrodite laughed at her distored countenance while
she played upon it. It was but a womanly trick in the
virgin daughter of Zeus.”

Tithonus looked at the speaker with a slight expression
of surprise; which Hermippus perceiving, he
thus addressed him in a cool, ironical tone: “O Ethiopian
stranger, it is evident you know little of Athens;
or you would have perceived that a belief in the gods
is more vulgar than flute-playing. Such trash is
deemed fit for the imbecility of the aged, and the ignorance
of the populace. With equestrians and philosophers,
it is out of date. You must seek for it among
those who sell fish at the gates; or with the sailors at
Piræus and Phalerum.”

“I have visited the Temple of Poseidon, in the
Piræus,” observed Aspasia; “and I saw there a multitude
of offerings from those who had escaped ship-wreck.”
She paused slightly, and added, with a significant
smile, “but I perceived no paintings of those

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who had been wrecked, notwithstanding their supplications
to the god.”

As she spoke, she observed that Pericles withdrew
a rose from the garland wherewith his cup was crowned;
and though the action was so slight as to pass unobserved
by others, she instantly understood the caution
he intended to convey by that emblem sacred to the
god of silence.

At a signal from Plato, slaves filled the goblets with
wine, and he rose to propose the usual libation to the
gods. Every Grecian guest joined in the ceremony,
singing in a recitative tone:

Dionysus, this to thee,
God of warm festivity!
Giver of the fruitful vine,
To thee we pour the rosy wine!

Music, from the adjoining room, struck in with the
chorus, and continued for some moments after it had

For a short time, the conversation was confined to
the courtesies of the table, as the guests partook of the
delicious viands before them. Plato ate olives and bread
only; and the water he drank was scarcely tinged with
Lesbian wine. Alcibiades rallied him upon this abstemiousness;
and Pericles reminded him that even his
great pattern, Socrates, gave Dionysus his dues, while
he worshipped the heaven-born Pallas.

The philosopher quietly replied, “I can worship the
fiery God of Vintage only when married with Nymphs
of the Fountain.”

“But tell me, O Anaxagoras and Plato,” exclaimed
Tithonus, “if, as Hermippus hath said, the Grecian
philosophers discard the theology of the poets? Do ye
not believe in the gods?”

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Plato would have smiled, had he not reverenced the
simplicity that expected a frank and honest answer to a
question so dangerous. Anaxagoras briefly replied,
that the mind which did not believe in divine beings,
must be cold and dark indeed.

“Even so,” replied Artaphernes devoutly; “blessed
be Oromasdes, who sends Mithras to warm and enlighten
the world! But what surprises me most is, that
you Grecians import new divinities from other countries
as freely as slaves, or papyrus, or marble. The
sculptor of the gods will scarcely be able to fashion
half their images.”

“If the custom continues,” rejoined Phidias, “it
will indeed require a life-time as long as that conferred
upon the namesake of Tithonus.”

“Thanks to the munificence of artists, every deity
has a representative in my dwelling,” observed Aspasia.

“I have heard strangers express their surprise that
the Athenians have never erected a statue to the principle
of Modesty,” said Hermippus.

“So much the more need that we enshrine her image
in our own hearts,” rejoined Plato.

The sarcastic comedian made no reply to this quiet
rebuke. Looking toward Artaphernes, he continued:
“Tell me, O servant of the great king, wherein the
people of your country are more wise in worshipping
the sun, than we who represent the same divinity in

“The principles of the Persian religion are simple,
steady, and uniform,” replied Artaphernes; “but the
Athenian are always changing. You not only adopt
foreign gods, but sometimes create new ones, and
admit them into your theology by solemn act of the

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great council. These circumstances have led me to
suppose that you worship them as mere forms. The
Persian Magi do indeed prostrate themselves before
the rising Sun; but they do it in the name of Oromasdes,
the universal Principle of Good, of whom that
great luminary is the visible symbol. In our solemn
processions, the chariot sacred to Oromasdes
precedes the horse dedicated to Mithras; and there
is deep meaning in the arrangement. The Sun and
the Zodiac, the Balance and the Rule, are but emblems
of truths, mysterious and eternal. As the garlands
we throw on the sacred fire feed the flame, rather
than extinguish it, so the sublime symbols of our religion
are intended to preserve, not to conceal, the truths
within them.”

“Though you disclaim all images of divinity,” rejoined
Aspasia, “yet we hear of your Mithras pictured
like a Persian King, trampling on a prostrate ox.”

With a smile, Artaphernes replied, “I see, lady,
that you would fain gain admittance to the Mithraie
cave; but its secrets, like those of your own Eleusis,
are concealed from all save the initiated.”

“They tell us,” said Aspasia, “that those who are
admitted to the Eleusinian mysteries die in peace, and
go directly to the Elysian fields; while the uninitiated
wander about in the infernal abyss.”

“Of course,” said Anaxagoras, “Alcibiades will go
directly to Elysium, though Solon groped his way in

The old philosopher uttered this with imperturbable
gravity, as if unconscious of satirical meaning; but
some of the guests could scarcely repress a smile, as
they recollected the dissolute life of the young Athenian.

“If Alcibiades spoke his real sentiments,” said

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Aspasia, “I venture to say he would tell us that the
mystic baskets of Demeter, covered with long purple
veils, contain nothing half so much worth seeing, as
the beautiful maidens who carry them.”

“She looked at Pericles, and saw that he again
cautioned her, by raising the rose toward his face, as
if inhaling its fragrance.

There was a brief pause; which Anaxagoras interrupted,
by saying, “The wise can never reverence
images merely as images. There is a mystical meaning
in the Athenian manner of supplicating the gods
with garlands on their heads, and bearing in their hands
boughs of olive twined with wool. Pallas, at whose
birth we are told gold rained upon the earth, was unquestionably
a personification of wisdom. It is not to
be supposed that the philosophers of any country consider
the sun itself as anything more than a huge ball
of fire; but the sight of that glorious orb leads the contemplative
soul to the belief in one Pure Intelligence,
one Universal Mind, which in manifesting itself produces
order in the material world, and preserves the
unconfused distinction of infinite varieties.”

“Such, no doubt, is the tendency of all reflecting
minds,” said Phidias; “but in general, the mere forms
are worshipped, apart from the sacred truths they represent.
The gods we have introduced from Egypt are
regarded by the priests of that learned land as emblems
of certain divine truths brought down from ancient
times. They are like the Hermæ at our doors, which
outwardly appear to rest on inexpressive blocks of
stone; but when opened, they are found to contain
beautiful statues of the gods within them. It is not so
with the new fables which the Greeks are continually
mixing with their mythology. Pygmalion, as we all
know, first departed from the rigid outline of ancient

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sculpture, and impressed life and motion upon marble.
The poets, in praise of him, have told us that his ardent
wishes warmed a statue into a lovely and breathing
woman. The fable is fanciful and pleasing in itself;
but will it not hereafter be believed as reality? Might
not the same history be told of much that is believed?
It is true,” added he, smiling, “that I might be excused
for favoring a belief in images, since mortals are
ever willing to have their own works adored.”

“What! does Plato respond to the inquiries of Phidias?”
asked Artaphernes.

The philosopher replied: “Within the holy mysteries
of our religion is preserved a pure and deep
meaning, as the waters of Arethusa flow uncontaminated
beneath the earth and the sea. I do not presume to
decide whether all that is believed has the inward significancy.
I have ever deemed such speculations unwise.
If the chaste daughter of Latona always appears
to my thoughts veiled in heavenly purity, it is comparatively
unimportant whether I can prove that Acteon
was torn by his dogs, for looking on the goddess with
wanton eyes. Anaxagoras said wisely that material
forms lead the contemplative mind to the worship of
ideal good, which is in its nature immortal and divine.
Homer tells us that the golden chain resting upon
Olympus reaches even to the earth. Here we see but
a few of the last links, and those imperfectly. We are
like men in a subterranean cave, so chained that they
can look only forward to the entrance. Far above and
behind us is a glowing fire: and beautiful beings, of
every form, are moving between the light and us poor
fettered mortals. Some of these bright beings are
speaking, and others are silent. We see only the
shadows cast on the opposite wall of the cavern, by the
reflection of the fire above; and if we hear the echo of

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voices, we suppose it belongs to those passing shadows.
The soul, in its present condition, is an exile from the
orb of light; its ignorance is forgetfulness; and whatever
we can perceive of truth, or imagine of beauty, is
but a reminiscence of our former more glorious state of
being. He who reverences the gods, and subdues his
own passions, returns at last to the blest condition from
which he fell. But to talk, or think, about these things
with proud impatience, or polluted morals, is like pouring
pure water into a miry trench; he who does it disturbs
the mud, and thus causes the clear water to become
defiled. When Odysseus removed his armor
from the walls, and carried it to an inner apartment,
invisible Pallas moved before him with her golden lamp,
and filled the place with radiance divine. Telemachus,
seeing the light, exclaimed, `Surely, my father, some
of the celestial gods are present.' With deep wisdom,
the king of Ithaca replied, `Be silent. Restrain your
intellect, and speak not.' ”

“I am rebuked, O Plato,” answered Phidias; “and
from henceforth, when my mind is dark and doubtful, I
will remember that transparent drops may fall into a
turbid well. Nor will I forget that sometimes, when I
have worked on my statues by torch-light, I could not
perceive their real expression, because I was carving
in the shadow of my own hand.”

“Little can be learned of the human soul, and its
connection with the Universal Mind,” said Anaxagoras:
“These sublime truths seem vague and remote, as
Phæacia appeared to Odysseus like a vast shield floating
on the surface of the distant ocean.

“The glimmering uncertainty attending all such
speculations, has led me to attach myself to the Ionic
sect, who devote themselves entirely to the study of outward

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“And this is useful,” rejoined Plato: “The man
who is to be led from a cave will more easily see what
the heavens contain by looking to the light of the moon
and the stars, than by gazing on the sun at noon-day.”

Here Hermippus interrupted the discourse, by saying,
“The son of Clinias does not inform us what he
thinks of the gods. While others have talked, he has

“I am a citizen and a soldier—neither priest nor
philosopher,” replied Alcibiades: “With a strong arm
and a willing heart to fight for my country, I leave
others to settle the attributes of her gods. Enough
for me, that I regularly offer sacrifices in their temples,
and pour libations upon their altars. I care very little
whether there be Elysian fields, or not. I will make
an Elysium for myself, as long as Aspasia permits me
to be surrounded by forms so beautiful, and gives me
nectar like this to drink.” He replaced the goblet,
from which he had drunk deeply, and exclaimed, “By
Dionysus! they quaff nothing better than this in voluptuous

“Methinks a citizen and a soldier might find a more
worthy model in Spartan, than in Ionian manners,”
said Anaxagoras; “but the latter truly suits better
with the present condition of Athens.”

“A condition more glorious than that of any other
people upon earth,” exclaimed Pericles, somewhat
warmly: “The story of Athens, enthroned in her
beauty and power, will thrill through generous hearts,
long after other nations are forgotten.”

“She is like a torch sending forth its last bright
blaze, before it is extinguished forever,” replied Anaxagoras,
calmly: “Where idle demagogues control the
revenues of industrious citizens, the government

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cannot long stand. It is a pyramid with the base uppermost.”

“You certainly would not blame the wisdom of
Aristides, in allowing the poor, as well as the rich, the
privilege of voting?” said Pericles.

“A moderate supply of wealth is usually the result
of virtuous and industrious habits; and it should be
respected merely for what it indicates,” rejoined
Anaxagoras. “Aristides, and other wise men, in their
efforts to satisfy the requirements of a restless people,
have opened a sluice, without calculating how it would
be enlarged by the rushing waters, until the very walls
of the city are undermined by its power.”

“But can the safety of the state be secured by
merely excluding the vicious poor?” said Plato. “Are
there not among us vicious rich men, who would rashly
vote for measures destructive of public good, if they
could thereby increase their own wealth? He who
exports figs to maintain personal splendor, when there
is famine in Attica, has perhaps less public virtue than
the beggar who steals them to avoid starvation.”

“But the vicious rich man will bribe the beggar to
vote as he dictates,” replied Anaxagoras; “and thus
his power of doing evil becomes two fold.”

“Your respect for permanent institutions makes you
blind to the love of change, inherent and active in the
human mind,” said Pericles. “If society be like the
heaving ocean, those who would guide their vessels in
safety, must obey the winds and the tides.”

“Nay, Pericles,” replied the old man, earnestly;
“if society be a tumultuous ocean, government should
be its everlasting shores. If the statesman watches
wind and tide only that his own bark may ride through
the storm in safety, while every fresh wave sweeps a

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landmark away, it is evident that, sooner or later, the
deluge must come.”

The discourse was growing too serious to be agreeable
to Pericles, who well knew that some of his best
friends deemed he had injured the state, by availing
himself too freely of the democratic tendencies of the
people. Plato, perceiving this, said, “If it please
you, Anaxagoras, we will leave these subjects to be
discussed in the Prytaneum and the Agoras. Fair and
glorious is the violet-crowned city, and let us trust
the gods will long preserve it so.”

“Thou hast well spoken, son of Aristo,” replied
Artaphernes: “Much as I had heard of the glory and
beauty of Athens, it far surpasses my hopes. Perhaps
I find myself lingering to gaze on the Odeum more
frequently than on any other of your magnificent edifices;
not for its more impressive beauty; but because
it is in imitation of our Great King's Pavilion.”

Hermippus looked up, and smiled with ill-natured
significance; for Cratinus, the ribald, had openly declared
in the theatre, that Pericles needed only to look
in his mirror, to discover a model for the sloping roof
of the Odeum. Athenian guests were indignant at being
thus reminded of the gross allusion to a deformity
conspicuous in the head of their illustrious statesman;
but Artaphernes, quite unconscious of his meaning,
continued: “The noble structure is worthy of him
who planned it. Yet the unpretending beauty of some
of your small temples makes me feel more as if I were
in the presence of a god. I have often marvelled
what it is in those fair white columns, that charms me
so much more than the palaces of the East, refulgent
with gems and gold.”

“The beauty that lies within has ever a mysterious

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power,” answered Plato. “An amethyst may beam in
the eye of a statue; but what, save the soul itself, can
give the expression of soul? The very spirit of harmony
is embodied in the proportions of the Parthenon.
It is marble music. I sometimes think the whole visible
beauty of creation is formed from the music of the
Eternal; and that the various joys we feel are but the
union of accordant notes in the great chorus of the
universe. There is music in the airy dance; music in
poetry; music in the glance of a beautiful woman;
music in the involutions and inflexions of numbers;
above all, there is music in light! And what Light is
in this world, Truth is in that glorious world to which
the mind of man returns after its long exile. Yes,
there is music in light! Hence, Phæbus is god of the
Sun and of the Lyre, and Memnon yields sweet sounds
to welcome approaching day. For this reason, the
disciples of Zoroaster and Pythagoras hail the rising
sun with the melody of harps; and the birds pour forth
their love of light in song. Perchance the order of
the universe is revealed in the story of Thebes rising
to the lyre of Amphion; and Ibycus might have spoken
sublime truth, when he told of music in the motion of
the everlasting stars.”

Philothea had listened so earnestly, that for a moment
all other thoughts were expelled from her mind.
She threw back her veil, and with her whole soul
beaming from her face, she exclaimed, “O Plato, I
once heard the music of the stars! Ibycus”—

The ardent gaze of Alcibiades restored her to painful
consciousness; and, blushing deeply, she replaced
her veil. Aspasia smiled; but Plato, with gentle reverence,
asked, “What would Philothea say of the divine

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The timid maiden gave no reply; and the tears of
innocent shame were seen falling fast upon her trembling

With that ready skill, which ever knows how to
adapt itself to the circumstances of the moment, Aspasia
gave a signal to her attendants, and at once the
mingled melody of voices and instruments burst upon
the ear. It was one of the enchanting strains of
Olympus the Mysian; and every heart yielded to its
influence. A female slave noiselessly brought Aspasia's
silver harp, and placed before her guests citharas
and lyres of ivory inlaid with gold. One by one, new
voices and instruments joined in the song; and when the
music ceased, there was a pause of deep and silent joy.

“Shame to the feast, where the praises of Harmodius
are not sung,” said Pericles, smiling, as he looked
toward Eudora. With rapid fingers the maiden
touched her lyre, and sung the patriotic song of Callistratus:

“I'll wreath my sword with myrtle, as brave Harmodius did,
And as Aristogeiton his avenging weapon hid;
When they slew the haughty tyrant and regained our liberty,
And, breaking down oppression, made the men of Athens free.
“Thou art not, loved Harmodius, thou art not surely dead,
But to some secluded sanctuary far away art fled;
With the swift-footed Achilleus, unmolested there to rest,
And to rove with Diomedes through the islands of the blest.
“I'll wreath my sword with myrtle, as Aristogeiton did,
And as the brave Harmodius his avenging weapon hid;
When on Athenæ's festival they aimed the glorius blow,
And calling on fair freedom, laid the proud Hipparchus low.
“Thy fame, beloved Harmodius, through ages still shall brighten,
Nor ever shall thy glory fade, beloved Aristogeiton;
Because your country's champions ye nobly dared to be,
And striking down the tyrant, made the men of Athens free.”

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The exhilarating notes stirred every Grecian heart.
Some waved their garlands in triumph, while others
joined in the music, and kept time with branches of

“By Phæbus! a glorious song and divinely sung,”
exclaimed Alcibiades: “But the lovely minstrel brings
danger to our hearts in those sweet sounds, as Harmodius
concealed his sword among myrtle leaves.”

Hipparete blushed, and with a quick and nervous
motion touched her cithara. With a nod and a smile,
Aspasia said, “Continue the music, I pray you.”
The tune being left to her own choice, the young
matron sang Anacreon's Ode to the Grasshopper. Her
voice was not unpleasing; but it contrasted disadvantageously
with the rich intonations of Eudora; and if
the truth must be told, that dark-haired damsel was
quite too conscious of the fact.

Tithonus expressed an earnest desire to hear one of
Pindar's odes; and Philothea, urged by Aspasia, began
with a quivering hand to accompany herself on the
harp. Her voice was at first weak and trembling; and
Plato, to relieve her timidity, joined in the music,
which soon gushed forth, clear, deep, and melodious:

“Hail, celestial Poesy!
Fair enchantress of mankind!
Veiled in whose sweet majesty,
Fables please the human mind.
But, as year rolls after year,
These fictitious charms decline;
Then, O man, with holy fear,
Write and speak of things divine.
Of the heavenly natures say
Nought unseemly, or profane—
Hearts that worship and obey,
Are preserved from guilty stain.”

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Oppressed with the grandeur of the music, and
willing to evade the tacit reproach conveyed in the
words, Aspasia touched her lyre, and, with mournful
tenderness, sung Danæ's Hymn to her Sleeping
Infant. Then, suddenly changing to a gayer measure,
she sang, with remarkable sweetness and flexibility of

“While our rosy fillets shed
Blushes o'er each fervid head,
With many a cup and many a smile
The festal moments we beguile.
And while the harp impassioned flings
Tuneful rapture from the strings,
Some airy nymph, with fluent limbs,
Through the dance luxuriant swims,
Waving in her snowy hand,
The leafy Dionysian wand,
Which, as the tripping wanton flies,
Shakes its tresses to her sighs.

At these words, a troop of graceful maidens, representing
the Zephyrs and the Hours, glided in and
out, between the marble columns, pelting each other
with roses, as they flew through the mazes of the

Presently, the music, more slow and measured in
its cadence, announced the dance of Ariadne guiding
her lover from the Labyrinth. In obedience to a
signal from Aspasia, Eudora sprang forward to hold
the silken cord, and Alcibiades darted forward to perform
the part of Theseus. Slowly, but gracefully as
birds balancing themselves on the air, the maidens
went through the difficult involutions of the dance.
They smiled on each other, as they passed and repassed;
and though Eudora's veil concealed the expression
of her features, Philothea observed, with an

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undefined feeling of apprehension, that she showed no
tokens of displeasure at the brief whispers and frequent
glances of Alcibiades.

At last, Pericles bade the attendants bring forth the
goblet of the Good Genius. A large golden bowl,
around which a silver grape-vine twined its luxuriant
clusters, was immediately placed before him, filled with
the rich juices of the Chian grape. Then Plato, as
king of the feast, exclaimed, “The cup of the Good
Genius is filled. Pledge him in unmixed wine.”

The massive goblet passed among all the guests;
some taking a deep draught, and others scarcely
moistening their lips with the wine. When the ceremony
was finished, Pericles said, “Now, if it pleases
Hermippus, we should like to see him in the comic
dance, for which he is so celebrated.”

Philothea looked earnestly at her grandfather. He
instantly understood her wishes, and bade farewell to
Aspasia; urging the plea that his child was unused to
late hours, and too timid to be in the streets of Athens
without his protection. Phidias requested that Eudora
might accompany them; and Hipparete likewise
asked leave to depart. Aspasia bestowed gifts on her
visiters, according to the munificent custom of the
country. To Hipparete she gave a bracelet of pearls;
to Philothea, a lyre of ivory and gold; and to Eudora,
a broad clasp for her mantle, on which the car of
Aphrodite drawn by swans was painted in enamel, by
Polygnotus, the inventor of the art.

Alcibiades chose to remain at his wine; but slaves
with torches were in readiness at the gates, and Hipparete
lived in the Ceramicus, within sight of Aspasia's

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A rapid walk soon restored the maidens to their
own peaceful homes. Philothea, with the consent of
Anaxagoras, went to share the apartment of her friend;
which, separated only by a small garden, was almost
within hearing of her own.

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