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Child, Lydia Maria Francis, 1802-1880 [1836], Philothea (Otis, Broaders & Co., Boston) [word count] [eaf046].
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Fare thee well, perfidious maid!
My soul,—its fondest hopes betrayed,
Betrayed, perfidious girl, by thee,—
Is now on wing for liberty.
I fly to seek a kindlier sphere,
Since thou hast ceased to love me here.

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Not long after the parting interview with Eudora,
Philæmon, sad and solitary, slowly wended his way
from Athens. As he passed along the banks of the
Illyssus, he paused for a moment, and stood with folded
arms, before the chaste and beautiful little temple of
Agrotera, the huntress with the unerring bow.

The temple was shaded by lofty plane trees, and
thickly intertwined willows, among which transparent
rivulets glided in quiet beauty; while the marble
nymphs, with which the grove was adorned, looking
modestly down upon the sparkling waters, as if awestricken
by the presence of their sylvan goddess.

A well-known voice said, “Enter, Philæmon. It is
a beautiful retreat. The soft, verdant grass tempts to
repose; a gentle breeze brings fragrance from the
blossoms; and the grasshoppers are chirping with a
summer-like and sonorous sound. Enter, my son.”

“Thanks, Anaxagoras,” replied Philæmon, as he
moved forward to give and receive the cordial salutation
of his friend: “I have scarcely travelled far
enough to need repose; but the day is sultry, and this
balmy air is indeed refreshing.”

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“Whither leads your path, my son?” inquired the
good old man. “I perceive that no servant follows
you with a seat whereon to rest, when you wish to
enjoy the prospect, and your garments are girded about
you, like one who travels afar.”

“I seek Mount Hymettus, my father,” replied
Philæmon: “There I shall stop to-night, to take my
last look of Athens. To-morrow, I join a company on
their way to Persia; where they say Athenian learning
is eagerly sought by the Great King and his nobles.”

“And would you have left Athens without my blessing?”
inquired Anaxagoras.

“In truth, my father, I wished to avoid the pain of
parting,” rejoined Philæmon. Not even my beloved
Paralus is aware that the homeless outcast of ungrateful
Athens has left her walls forever.”

The aged philosopher endeavored to speak, but his
voice was tremulous with emotion. After a short
pause, he put his arm within Philæmon's, and said,
“My son, we will journey together. I shall easily
find my way back to Athens before the lamps of evening
are lighted.”

The young man spoke of the wearisome walk;
and reminded him that Ibycus, the beloved of the gods,
was murdered while returning to the city after twilight.
But the philosopher replied, “My old limbs
are used to fatigue, and everybody knows that the
plain robe of Anaxagoras conceals no gold.”

As they passed along through the smiling fields
of Agra, the cheerfulness of the scene redoubled the
despondency of the exile. Troops of laughing girls
were returning from the vineyards with baskets full
of grapes; women were grinding corn, singing merrily,
as they toiled; groups of boys were throwing quoits,

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or seated on the grass eagerly playing at dice, and
anon filling the air with their shouts; in one place was
a rural procession in honor of Dionysus; in another,
loads of pure Pentelic marble were on their way
from the quarry, to increase the architectural glory of

“I could almost envy that senseless stone!” exclaimed
Philæmon. “It goes where I have spent
many a happy hour, and where I shall never enter
more. It is destined for the Temple of the Muses,
which Plato is causing to be built among the olive-groves
of Academus. The model is more beautifully
simple than anything I have ever seen.”

“The grove of Academus is one of the few places
now remaining where virtue is really taught and encouraged,”
rejoined Anaxagoras. “As for these new
teachers, misnamed philosophers, they are rapidly hastening
the decay of a state whose diseases produced

“A few days since, I heard one of the sophists
talking to crowds of people in the old Agora,” said
Philæmon; “and truly his doctrines formed a strange
contrast with the severe simplicity of virtue expressed
in the countenances of Solon, Aristides, and the other
godlike statues that stood around him. He told the
populace that it was unquestionably a great blessing to
commit an injury with impunity; but as there was more
evil in suffering an injury than there was good in committing
one, it was necessary to have the subject regulated
by laws: that justice, correctly defined, meant
nothing more than the interest of the strongest; that
a just man always fared worse than the unjust, because
he neglected to aggrandize himself by dishonest
actions, and thus became unpopular among his

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acquaintances; while those who were less scrupulous,
grew rich and were flattered. He said the weak very
naturally considered justice as a common right; but
he who had power, if he had likewise courage, would
never submit to any such agreement: that they who
praised virtue, did it because they had some object to
gain from those who had less philosophy than themselves;
and these pretended worthies, if they could
act invisibly, would soon be found in the same path
with the villain. He called rhetoric the noblest of the
arts, because it enabled an ignorant man to appear to
know as much as one who was thoroughly master of
his subject. Some of the people demanded what he
had to say of the gods, since he had spoken so ably of
men. With an unpleasant mixture of derision and
feigned humility, the sophist replied, that he left such
vast subjects to be discussed by the immortal Socrates.
He forthwith left the Agora, and many a loud laugh
and profane jest followed his departure. When such
doctrines can be uttered without exciting indignation, it
is easy to foresee the destinies of the state.”

“Thucydides speaks truly,” rejoined Anaxagoras:
“In the history he is writing he says,—the Athenian
people are beginning to be more fond of calling dishonest
men able, than simple men honest; and that
statesmen begin to be ashamed of the more worthy title,
while they take pride in the other: thus sincerity,
of which there is much in generous natures, will be
laughed down; while wickedness and hypocrisy are
everywhere triumphant.”

“But evil grows weary of wearing a mask in reluc
tant homage to good,” replied Philaæmon; “she is ever
seeking to push it aside, with the hope that men may
become accustomed to her face, and find more beauty

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therein, than in the disguise she wears. The hidden
thought at last struggles forth into expression, and
cherished passions assume a form in action. One of
the sophists has already given notice that he can teach
any young man how to prove that right is wrong, or
wrong is right. It is said that Xanthippus has sent
his son to benefit by these instructions, with a request
that he may learn the art thoroughly, but be taught to
use it only in the right way.”

“Your words are truth, my son,” answered the philosopher;
“and the blame should rest on those who
taint the stream at its source, rather than with them
who thoughtlessly drink of it in its wanderings. The
great and the gifted of Athens, instead of yielding reverent
obedience to the unchangeable principle of truth,
have sought to make it the servant of their own purposes.
Forgetful of its eternal nature, they strive to
change it into arbitrary forms of their own creating;
and then marvel because other minds present it in
forms more gross and disgusting than their own.
They do not ask what is just or unjust, true or untrue,
but content themselves with recommending virtue as
far as it advances interest, or contributes to popularity;
and when virtue ceases to be fashionable, the multitude
can no longer find a satisfactory reason for adhering
to it. But when the teachers of the populace
hear their vulgar pupils boldly declare that vice is as
good as virtue, provided a man can follow it with success,
pride prevents them from seeing that this maxim
is one of their own doctrines stripped of its equestrian
robes, and shown in democratic plainness. They did
not venture to deride the gods, or even to assert that
they took no cognizance of human affairs; but they
declared that offences against divine beings might be

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easily atoned for by a trifling portion of their own gifts—
a sheep, a basket of fruit, or a few grains of salt,
offered at stated seasons, with becoming decorum;
and then when alone together, they smiled that such
concessions were necessary to satisfy the superstitions
of the vulgar. But disbelief in divine beings, and the
eternal nature of truth, cannot long be concealed by
pouring the usual libations, or maintaining a cautious
reserve. The whispered opinions of false philosophers
will soon be loudly echoed by the popular voice, which
is less timid, because it is more honest. Even thus
did Midas laboriously conceal the deformity of his
head; but his barber, who saw him without disguise,
whispered his secret in the earth, and when the winds
arose, the voices of a thousand reeds proclaimed to the
world, `King Midas hath ass's ears.'

“The secret has already been whispered to the
ground,” answered Philæmon, smiling: “If it were
not so, the comic writers would not be able to give
with impunity such grotesque and disgusting representations
of the gods.”

“And yet,” rejoined the old man, “I hear that
Hermippus, who has himself personified Hera on the
stage, as an angry woman attempting to strike infuriated
Zeus, is about to arraign me before the public
tribunal, because I said the sun was merely a great
ball of fire. This he construes into blasphemy against
the life-giving Phœbus.”

“The accusation may be thus worded,” said Philæ
mon “but your real crime is that you stay away from
political assemblies, and are therefore suspected of
being unfriendly to democratic institutions. Demus
reluctantly admits that the right to hold such opinions
is an inherent part of liberty. Soothe the vanity of

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the dicasts by humble acknowledgments, and gratify
their avarice by a plentiful distribution of drachmæ;
flatter the self-conceit of the Athenians by assurances
that they are the greatest, most glorious, and most
consistent people upon earth; be careful that Cleon
the tanner, and Thearion the baker, and Theophrastus
the maker of lyres are supplicated and praised in due
form—and, take my word for it, the gods will be left
to punish you for whatever offences you commit against
them. They will receive no assistance from the violet-crowned

“And you, my son,” replied the philosopher,
“would never have been exiled from Athens, if you
had debated in the porticos with young citizens, who
love to exhibit their own skill in deciding whether the
true cause of the Trojan war were Helen, or the ship
that carried her away, or the man that built the ship,
or the wood whereof it was made; if in your style you
had imitated the swelling pomp of Isagoras, where one
solitary idea is rolled over and over in an ocean of
words, like a small pearl tossed about in the Ægean;
if you had supped with Hyperbolus, or been seen in
the agoras, walking arm in arm with Cleon. With
such a man as you to head their party, Pericles could
not always retain the ascendancy by a more adroit use
of their own weapons.”

“As soon would I league myself with the Odomantians
of Thrace!” exclaimed Philæmon, with an expression
of strong disgust. “It is such men who destroy
the innocence of a republic, and cause that
sacred name to become a mockery among tyrants.
The mean-souled wretches! Men who take from the
poor daily interest for a drachma, and spend it in debauchery.
Citizens who applauded Pericles because

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he gave them an obolus for a vote, and are now willing
to see him superseded by any man that will give
two oboli instead of one! No, my father—I could
unite with none but an honest party—men who love
the state and forget themselves; and such are not now
found in Athens. The few that exist dare not form a
barrier against the powerful current that would inevitably
drive them to destruction.”

“You speak truth, Philæmon,” rejoined Anaxagoras:
“Pallas Athena seems to have deserted her chosen
people. The proud Spartans openly laugh at our approaching
downfall, while the smooth Persians watch
for a favorable moment to destroy the freedom already
rendered so weak by its own insanity.”

“The fault will be attributed to democratic principles,”
said Philæmon; “but the real difficulty exists
in that love of power which hides itself beneath the
mask of democracy, until a corrupted public can endure
its undisguised features without execration. No
one can believe that Pericles lessened the power of the
Areopagus from a sincere conviction that it was for the
good of the people. It was done to obtain personal
influence, by purchasing the favor of those who had
sufficient reasons for desiring a less equitable tribunal.
Nor could he have ever supposed that the interests of
the republic would be advanced by men whom the gift
of an obolus could induce to vote. The Athenians
have been spoiled by ambitious demagogues, who now
try to surfeit them with flattery, as nurses seek to pacify
noisy children with sponges dipped in honey. They
strive to drown the din of domestic discord in boasts of
foreign conquest; and seek to hide corruption in a
blaze of glory, as they concealed their frauds amid the
flames of the treasury.”

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“Pericles no doubt owes his great popularity to skill
in availing himself of existing circumstances,” replied
Anaxagoras; “and I am afraid that the same motives
for corrupting, and the same willingness to be corrupted,
will always be found in democratic institutions.”

“It has always been matter of surprise to me,”
said Philæmon, “that one so humble and frugal as
yourself, and so zealous for the equal rights of all men,
even the meanest citizens, should yet be so little
friendly to that popular idol which the Athenians call

The philosopher rejoined: “When I was young, I
heard it said of Lycurgus, that being asked why he,
who was such a friend to equality, did not bestow a
democratic government upon Sparta, he answered,
“go and try a democracy in your own house.” The
reply pleased me; and a long residence in Athens has
not yet taught me to believe that a man who is governed
by ten thousand masters has more freedom than
he who is governed by one.”

“If kings had the same natural affection for their
subjects that parents have for their children, the comparison
of Lycurgus would be just,” answered Philæ

“And what think you of the paternal kindness of
this republican decree whereby five thousand citizens
have been sold into slavery, because the unjust confiscation
of their estates rendered them unable to pay
their debts?” said Anaxagoras.

“Such an edict was passed because Athens is not
a republic,” replied Philæmon.” “All things are under
the control of Pericles; and Aspasia rules him.
When she heard that I remonstrated against his

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shameful marriage, she said she would sooner or later
bring a Trojan horse into my house. She has fulfilled
her threat by the same means that enabled Pericles to
destroy the political power of some of his most influential

“Pericles has indeed obtained unbounded influence,”
rejoined Anaxagoras; “but he did it by counterfeiting
the very principle that needed to be checked;
and this is so easily counterfeited, that democracy is
always in danger of becoming tyranny in disguise.
The Athenians are as servile to their popular idol as
the Persians to their hereditary one; but the popular
idol seeks to sustain his own power by ministering to
that love of change, which allows nothing to remain
sacred and established. Hence, two opposite evils are
combined in action—the reality of despotism with the
form of democracy; the power of a tyrant with the
irresponsiblity of a multitude. But, in judging of
Pericles, you, my son, should strive to guard against
political enmity, as I do against personal affection. It
cannot be denied that he has often made good use of
his influence. When Cimon brought the remains of
Theseus to Athens, and a temple was erected over
them in obedience to the oracle, it was he who suggested
to the people that a hero celebrated for relieving
the oppressed could not be honored more
appropriately than by making his temple a refuge for
abused slaves.”

“Friendly as I am to a government truly republican,”
answered Philæmon, “it is indeed difficult to
forgive the man who seduces a democracy to the commission
of suicide for his own advancement. His
great abilities would receive my admiration, if they
were not employed in the service of ambition. As for

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this new edict, it will prove a rebounding arrow, striking
him who sent it. He will find ten enemies for one
in the kindred of the banished.”

“While we have been talking thus sadly,” said the
old philosopher, “the fragrant thyme and murmuring
bees give cheerful notice that we are approaching
Mount Hymettus. I see the worthy peasant, Tellus,
from whom I have often received refreshment of bread
and grapes; and if it please you we will share his
bounty now.”

The peasant respectfully returned their friendly
greeting, and readily furnished clusters from his luxuriant
vineyard. As the travellers seated themselves
beneath the shelter of the vines, Tellus asked, “What
news from Athens?

“None of importance,” replied Anaxagoras, “excepting
rumors of approaching war, and this new edict,
by which so many citizens are suddenly reduced to

“There are always those in Athens who are like
the eel-catchers that choose to have the waters
troubled,” observed the peasant. “When the lake
is still, they lose their labor; but when the mud is
well stirred, they take eels in plenty. My son says
he gets twelve oboli for a conger-eel, in the Athenian
markets; and that is a goodly price.”

The travellers smiled, and contented themselves
with praising his grapes, without further allusion to
the politics of Athens. But Tellus resumed the discourse,
by saying, “So, I hear my old neighbor, Philargus,
has been tried for idleness.”

“Even so,” rejoined Anaxagoras; “and his condemnation
has proved the best luck he ever had. The
severe sentence of death was changed into a heavy

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fine; and Lysidas, the Spartan, immediately begged
to be introduced to him, as the only gentleman he
had seen or heard of in Athens. He has paid the fine
for him, and invited him to Lacedæmon; that he may
show his proud countrymen one Athenian who does
not disgrace himself by industry.”

“That comes of having the Helots among them,”
said Tellus. “My boy married a Spartan wife; and I
can assure you she is a woman that looks lightning, and
speaks mustard. When my son first told her to take
the fish from his basket, she answered, angrily, that she
was no Helot.”

“I heard this same Lysidas, the other day,” said
Philæmon, “boasting that the Spartans were the only
real freemen; and Lacedæmon the only place where
courage and virtue always found a sure reward. I
asked him what reward the Helots had for bravery
or virtue. `They are not scourged; and that is sufficient
reward for the base hounds,' was his contemptuous
reply. He approves the law forbidding masters
to bestow freedom on their slaves; and likes the custom
which permits boys to whip them, merely to remind
them of their bondage. He ridicules the idea
that injustice will weaken the strength of Sparta, because
the gods are enemies to injustice. He says the
sun of liberty shines brighter with the dark atmosphere
of slavery around it; as temperance seems more lovely
to the Spartan youth, after they have seen the Helots
made beastly drunk for their amusement. He seems
to forget that the passions are the same in every human
breast; and that it is never wise in any state to
create natural enemies at her own doors. But the
Lacedæmonians make it a rule never to speak of danger
from their slaves. They remind me of the citizens

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of Amyclæ, who, having been called from their occupations,
by frequent rumors of war, passed a vote that
no man should be allowed, under heavy penalties, to
believe any report of intended invasion. When the
enemy really came, no man dared to speak of their
approach, and Amyclæ was easily conquered. Lysidas
boasted of salutary cruelty; and in the same breath
told me the Helots loved their masters.”

“As the Spartan boys love Orthia, at whose altar
they yearly receive a bloody whipping,” said Tellus,

“There is one great mistake in Lacedæmonian institutions,”
observed Anaxagoras: “They seek to avoid
the degrading love of money, by placing every citizen
above the necessity of laborious occupation; but they
forget that a love of tyranny may prove an evil still
more dangerous to the state.”

“You speak justly, my father,” answered Philamon:
“The Athenian law, which condemns any man
for speaking disrespectfully of his neighbor's trade, is
most wise; and it augurs ill for Athens that some of
her young equestrains begin to think it unbecoming to
bring home provisions for their own dinner from the

“Alcibiades, for instance!” exclaimed the philosopher:
“He would consider himself disgraced by any
other burthen than his fighting quails, which he carries
out to take the air.”

Philæmon started up suddenly—for for the name of
Alcibiades stung him like a serpent. Immediately recovering
his composure, he turned to recompense
the hospitality of the honest peasant, and to bid him a
friendly farewell.

But Tellus answered bluntly; “No, young Athenian;

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I like your sentiments, and will not touch your coin.
The gods bless you.”

The travellers having heartily returned his parting
benediction, slowly ascended Mount Hymettus. When
they paused to rest upon its summit, a glorious prospect
lay stretched out before them. On the north,
were Megara, Eleusis, and the cynosure of Marathon;
in the south, numerous islands, like a flock of birds,
reposed on the bright bosom of the Ægean; to the
west was the broad Piræus with its thousand ships, and
Athens in all her magnificence of beauty; while the
stately buildings of distant Corinth mingled with the
cloudless sky. The declining sun threw his refulgent
mantle over the lovely scene, and temples, towers, and
villas glowed in the purple light.

The travellers stood for a few moments in perfect
silence—Philæmon with folded arms, and Anaxagoras
leaning on his staff. At length, in tones of deep emotion,
the young man exclaimed, “Oh, Athens, how I
have loved thee! Thy glorious existence has been a
part of my own being! For thy prosperity how freely
would I have poured out my blood! The gods bless
thee, and save thee from thyself!”

“Who could look upon her and not bless her in
his heart?” said the old philosopher: “There she
stands, fair as the heaven-born Pallas, in all her virgin
majesty! But alas for Athens, when every man boasts
of his own freedom, and no man respects the freedom
of his neighbor. Peaceful, she seems, in her glorious
beauty; but the volcano is heaving within, and already
begins to throw forth its showers of smoke and stones.”

“Would that the gods had permitted me to share
her dangers—to die and mingle with her beloved
soil!” exclaimed Philæmon.

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The venerable philosopher looked up, and saw intense
wretchedness in the countenance of his youthful
friend. He laid his hand kindly upon Philæmon's arm;
“Nay, my son,” said he, “You must not take this
unjust decree so much to heart. Of Athens nothing
can be so certainly predicted as change. Things as
trifling as the turning of a shell may restore you to
your rights. You can even now return if you will submit
to be a mere sojourner in Athens. After all, what
vast privileges do you lose with your citizenship.
You must indeed wrestle at Cynosarges, instead of
the Lyceum or the Academia; but in this, the great
Themistocles has given you honorable example. You
will not be allowed to enter the theatre while the
Athenians keep the second day of their festival Anthesteria;
but to balance this privation you are forbidden
to vote, and are thus freed from all blame belonging
to unjust and capricious laws.”

“My father, playful words cannot cure the wound,”
replied the exile, seriously: “The cherished recollections
of years cannot be so easily torn from the heart.
Athens, with all her faults, is still my own, my beautiful,
my beloved land. They might have killed me, if
they would, if I had but died an Athenian citizen.”

He spoke with a voice deeply agitated; but after a
few moments of forced composure, he continued more
cheerfully: “Let us speak of other subjects. We are
standing here on the self-same spot where Aristo and
Perictione laid the infant Plato, while they sacrificed
to the life-giving Phœbus. It was here the bees
clustered about his infant mouth, and his mother hailed
the omen of his future eloquence. Commend me to
that admirable man, and tell him I shall vainly seek
throughout the world to find another Plato.

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Commend me, likewise, to the Persian Artaphernes.
To his bounty I am much indebted. Lest he should
hope that I carry away feelings hostile to Athens, and
favorable to her enemies, say to the kind old man, that
Philæmon will never forget his country or his friends.
I have left a long letter to Paralus, in which my full
heart has but feebly expressed its long-cherished
friendship. When you return, you will find a trifling
token of remembrance for yourself and Philothea.
May Pallas shower her richest blessings upon that pure
and gifted maiden.”

With some hesitation, Anaxagoras said, “You make
no mention of Eudora; and I perceive that both you
and Philothea are reserved when her name is mentioned.
Do not believe every idle rumor, my son.
The gayety of a light-hearted maiden is often unmixed
with boldness, or crime. Do not cast her from you
too lightly.”

Philæmon averted his face for a moment, and struggled
hard with his feelings. Then turning abruptly,
he pressed the old man's hand, and said, “Bid Philothea,
guide and cherish her deluded friend, for my
sake. And now, farewell, Anaxagoras! Farewell,
forever! my kind, my good, old master. May the gods
bless the wise counsels and virtuous example you have
given me.”

The venerable philosopher stretched forth his arms
to embrace him. The young man threw himself upon
that friendly bosom, and overcome by a variety of conflicting
emotions, sobbed aloud.

As they parted, Anaxagoras again pressed Philæmon
to his heart, and said, “May that God, whose numerous
attributes the Grecians worship, forever bless thee,
my dear son.”

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