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Child, Lydia Maria Francis, 1802-1880 [1836], Philothea (Otis, Broaders & Co., Boston) [word count] [eaf046].
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“Two several gates
Transmit those airy phantoms. One of horn,
And of sawn ivory one. Such dreams as pass
The gate of ivory, prove empty sounds;
While others, through the polished horn effused,
Whose eye see'er they visit, never fail.”

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The dwellings of Anaxagoras and Phidias were separated
by a garden entirely sheltered from public observation.
On three sides it was protected by the
buildings, so as to form a hollow square; the remainder
was screened by a high stone wall. This garden
was adorned with statues and urns, among which
bloomed many choice shrubs and flowers. The entire
side of Anaxagoras' house was covered with a luxuriant
grape-vine, which stretched itself out on the roof,
as if enjoying the sunshine. The women's apartments
communicated by a private avenue, which enabled the
friends to see each other as conveniently as if they
had formed one household.

The morning after the conversation we have mentioned,
Philothea rose early, and returned to her own
dwelling. As she passed through the avenue, she
looked into the garden, and smiled to see, suspended
by a small cord thrown over the wall, a garland fastened
with a delicately-carved arrow, bearing the inscription—
“To Eudora, the most beautiful, most

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Glad to assist in the work of reconciliation, she separated
the wreath from the string, and carried it to
her for whom it was intended. “Behold the offering
of Philæmon!” she exclaimed, joyfully: “Dearest
Eudora, beware how you estrange so true a heart.”

The handsome maiden received her flowers with evident
delight, not unmingled with confusion; for she
suspected that they came from a greater flatterer than

Philothea returned to her usual avocations, with
anxiety somewhat lessened by this trifling incident.

Living in almost complete seclusion, the simple-hearted
maiden was quite unconscious that the new
customs, introduced by Aspasia, had rendered industry
and frugality mere vulgar virtues. But the restraint
of public opinion was unnecessary to keep her
within the privacy of domestic life; for it was her own
chosen home. She loved to prepare her grandfather's
frugal repast of bread and grapes, and wild honey; to
take care of his garments; to copy his manuscripts;
and to direct the operations of Mibra, a little Arcadian
peasant girl, who was her only attendant. These duties,
performed with cheerful alacrity, gave a fresh
charm to the music and embroidery with which she
employed her leisure hours.

Anaxagoras was extremely attached to his lovely
grandchild; and her great intellectual gifts, accompanied
as they were by uncommon purity of character,
had procured from him and his friends a degree of respect
not usually bestowed upon women of that period.
She was a most welcome auditor to the philosophers,
poets, and artists, who were ever fond of gathering
round the good old man; and when it was either
necessary or proper to remain in her own apartment,

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there was the treasured wisdom of Thales, Pythagoras,
Hesiod, Homer, Simonides, Ibycus, and Pindar.
More than one of these precious volumes were transcribed
entirely by her own hand.

In the midst of such communion, her spirit drank
freely from the fountains of sublime knowledge; which,
“like the purest waters of the earth, can be obtained
only by digging deep,—but when they are found, they
rise up to meet us.”

The intense love of the beautiful thus acquired, far
from making the common occupations of life distasteful,
threw over them a sort of poetic interest, as a
richly painted window casts its own glowing colors on
mere boards and stones. The higher regions of her
mind were never obscured by the clouds of daily care;
but thence descended perpetual sunshine, to gild the

On this day, however, Philothea's mind was less serene
than usual. The unaccountable change in Eudora's
character perplexed and troubled her. When
she parted from her to go into the Acropolis, she had
left her as innocent and contented as a little child; and
so proud and satisfied in Philæmon's love, that she
deemed herself the happiest of all happy beings: at
the close of six short months, she found her transformed
into a vain, restless, ambitious woman, wild for
distinction, and impatient of restraint.

All this Philothea was disposed to pity and forgive;
for she felt that frequent intercourse with Aspasia
might have dazzled even a stronger mind, and changed
a less susceptible heart. Her own diminished influence,
she regarded as the inevitable result of her
friend's present views and feelings; and she only

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regretted it because it lessened her power of doing good
where she was most desirous to be useful.

Several times, in the course of the day, her heart
yearned toward the favorite of her childhood; and
she was strongly impelled to go to her and confess all
her anxieties. But Eudora came not, as she had ever
been wont to do, in the intervals of household occupation;
and this obvious neglect drove Philothea's kind
impulses back upon her heart.

Hylax, as he ran round the garden, barking and
jumping at the birds in the air, instantly knew her
voice, and came capering in, bounding up at her side,
and licking her hand. The tears came to Philothea's
eyes, as she stooped to caress the affectionate animal:
“Poor Hylax,” said she, “you have not changed.”
She gathered some flowers, and twined them round the
dog's neck, thinking this simple artifice might bring a
visit from her friend.

But the sun went down, and still she had not caught
a glimpse of Eudora, even in the garden. Her affectionate
anxiety was almost deepening into sadness,
when Anaxagoras returned, accompanied by the Ethiopian

“I bring an offering from the munificent Tithonus,”
said the philosopher: “He came with my disciples to-day,
and we have had much discourse together. To-morrow
he departs from Athens; and he bade me say
that he hoped his farewell gift would not be unacceptable
to her whose voice made even Pindar's strains
more majestic and divine.”

The boy uncovered an image he carried in his arms,
and with low obeisance presented it to Philothea. It
was a small statue of Urania, wrought in ivory and

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gold. The beautiful face was turned upward, as if regarding
the heavens with quiet contemplation. A
crown of golden planets encircled the head, and the
scarf, enameled with deep and vivid azure, likewise
glowed with stars.

Philothea smiled, as she glanced round the apartment,
and said, “It is a humble shrine for a Muse so

“Honesty and innocence are fitter companions for
the gods, than mere marble and gold,” replied the

As a small indication of respect and gratitude, the
maiden sent Tithonus a roll of papyrus, on which she
had neatly copied Pindar's Odes; and the boy, having
received a few oboli for his trouble, returned charged
with thanks and good wishes for his master.

Philothea, spontaneously yielding to the old habit of
enjoying everything with her friend, took the statue in
her arms and went directly to her room. Eudora was
kind and cheerful, but strangely fluttered. She praised
the beautiful image in the excessive terms of one who
feels little, and is therefore afraid of not saying enough.
Her mind was evidently disturbed with thoughts quite
foreign to the subject of her conversation; but, making
an effort at self-possession, she said, “I too have
had a present: Artaphernes sent it because my voice
reminded him of one he loved in his youth.” She unfolded
a roll of perfumed papyrus, and displayed a
Persian veil of gold and silver tissue. Philothea pronounced
it fit for the toilette of a queen; but frankly
confessed that it was too gorgeous to suit her taste.

At parting, she urged Eudora to share her apartment
for the night. The maiden refused, under the
pretext of illness; but when her friend offered to

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remain with her, she hastily replied that she should be
much better alone.

As Philothea passed through the sheltered avenue,
she saw Mibra apparently assisting Geta in cleansing
some marbles; and thinking Phidias would be pleased
with the statue, she asked Geta to convey it to his
room. He replied, “My master has gone to visit a
friend at Salamis, and will not return until morning.”
The maiden was much surprised that her friend had
made no allusion to this circumstance; but she forbore
to return and ask an explanation.

Another subject attracted her attention, and occupied
some share of her thoughts. She had observed
that Geta and Mibra appeared much confused when
she spoke to them. When she inquired what Geta
had been saying, the pretty Arcadian, with an averted
face, replied, “He called me to see a marble dog,
barking as if he had life in him; only he did not make
any noise.”

“Was that all Geta talked of?” said Philothea.

“He asked me if I liked white kids,” answered the
blushing peasant.

“And what did you tell him?” inquired the maiden.

With a bashful mixture of simplicity and archness,
the young damsel answered, “I told him I liked white
kids very much.”

Philothea smiled, and asked no more questions.
When she repeated this brief conversation to Anaxagoras,
he heard it with affectionate interest in Mibra's
welfare, and promised to have a friendly talk with
honest-hearted Geta.

The wakefulness and excitement of the preceding
night had been quite at variance with the tranquil regularity
of Philothea's habits; and the slight repose,

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which she usually enjoyed in the afternoon, had been
disturbed by her grandfather, who came to say that
Paralus was with him, and wished to see her a few
moments, before they went out to the Pyræum together.
Being therefore unusually weary, both in
body and mind, the maiden early retired to her couch;
and with mingled thoughts of her lover and her friend,
she soon fell into a profound sleep.

She dreamed of being with Paralus in an olive grove,
over the deep verdure of which shining white blossoms
were spread, like a silver veil. Her lover played upon
his flute, while she leaned against a tree and listened.
Soon, the air was filled with a multitude of doves,
flocking from every side; and the flapping of their
wings kept time to the music.

Then, suddenly, the scene changed to the garden of
Phidias. The statues seemed to smile upon her, and
the flowers looked up bright and cheerful, in an atmosphere
more mild than the day, but warmer than
the moon. Presently, one of the smiling statues became
a living likeness of Eudora, and with delighted
expression gazed earnestly on the ground. Philothea
looked to see what excited her admiration—and lo! a
large serpent, shining with green and gold, twisted
itself among the flowers in manifold involutions; and
wheresoever the beautiful viper glided, the blossoms
became crisped and blackened, as if fire had passed
over them. With a sudden spring the venomous creature
coiled itself about Eudora's form, and its poisoned
tongue seemed just ready to glance into her heart;
yet still the maiden laughed merrily, heedless of her

Philothea awoke with a thrill of anguish; but thankful
to realize that it was all a dream, she murmured a

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brief prayer, turned upon her couch, and soon yielded
to the influence of extreme drowsiness.

In her sleep, she seemed to be working at her embroidery;
and Hylax came and tugged at her robe,
until she followed him into the garden. There Eudora
stood smiling, and the glittering serpent was again
dancing before her.

Disturbed by the recurrence of this unpleasant
dream, the maiden remained awake for a considerable
time, listening to the voices of her grandfather and his
guests, which still came up with a murmuring sound
from the room below. Gradually her senses were
lulled into slumber; and again the same dream recurred
to distress and waken her.

Unable longer to resist the strength of her impressions,
Philothea arose, and descending a few of the
steps which led to the lower part of the house, she
looked into the garden, through one of the apertures
that had been left in the wall for the admission of light.
Behind a status of Erato, she was sure that she saw
colored drapery floating in the moonlight. Moving on
to the next aperture, she distinctly perceived Eudora
standing by the statue; and instead of the graceful
serpent, Alcibiades knelt before her. His attitude
and gesture were impassioned; and though the expression
of Eudora's countenance could not be seen,
she was evidently giving him no ungracious audience.

Philothea put her hand to her heart, which throbbed
violently with painful emotion. Her first thought was
to end this interview at all hazards; but she was of a
timid nature; and when she had folded her robe and
veil about her, her courage failed. Again she looked
through the aperture, and saw that the arm of Alcibiades
rested on the shoulder of her misguided friend.

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Without taking time for a second thought, she
sprang down the remaining steps, darted through the
private avenue into the garden, and standing directly
before the deluded girl, she exclaimed, in a tone of
earnest expostulation, “Eudora!”

With a half-suppressed scream the maiden disappeared.
Alcibiades, with characteristic boldness,
seized Philothea's robe, exclaiming, “What have we
here? So help me Aphrodite! it is the lovely Canephora
of the Gardens! Now Eros forsake me if I lose
this chance to look on her heavenly face again.”

He attempted to raise the veil, which the terrified
maiden grasped convulsively, as she tried to extricate
herself from his hold.

At that instant, a stern voice sounded from the opposite
wall; and Philothea, profiting by the sudden
surprise into which Alcibiades was thrown, darted
through the avenue, bolted the door, and in an instant
after was within the sanctuary of her own chamber.

Here the tumult of mingled emotion subsided in a
flood of tears. She mourned over the shameful infatuation
of Eudora, and she acutely felt the degradation
attached to her own accidental share in the scene.
With these thoughts was mingled deep pity for the
pure-minded and excellent Philæmon. She was sure
that it was his voice she had heard from the wall; and
she rightly conjectured that, after his prolonged interview
with Anaxagoras, he had partly ascended the
ladder leading to the house-top, and looked through
the fluttering grape-leaves at the dwelling of his

The agitation of her mind prevented all thoughts of
sleep. Again and again she looked out anxiously.
All was hushed and motionless. The garden reposed

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in the moonbeams, like truths—which receive no
warmth from the heart—seen only in the clear, cold
light of reason. The plants were visible, but colorless;
and the statues stood immovable in their silent,
lifeless beauty.

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