previous next

Phryne

Φρύνη), one of the most celebrated Athenian hetairae, was the daughter of Epicles, and a native of Thespiae in Boeotia. She was of very humble origin, and originally gained her livelihood by gathering capers; but her beauty procured for her afterwards so much wealth that she is said to have offered to rebuild the walls of Thebes, after they had been destroyed by Alexander, if she might be allowed to put up this inscription on the walls :--"Alexander destroyed them, but Phryne, the hetaira, rebuilt them." She had among her admirers many of the most celebrated men of the age of Philip and Alexander, and the beauty of her form gave rise to some of the greatest works of art. The orator Hyperides was one of her lovers, and he defended her when she was accused by Euthias on one occasion of some capital charge; but when the eloquence of her advocate failed to move the judges, he bade her uncover her breast, and thus ensured her acquittal. The most celebrated picture of Apelles, his "Venus Anadyomene" [APELLES, p. 222b.], is said to have been a representation of Phryne, who, at a public festival at Eleusis, entered the sea with dishevelled hair. The celebrated Cnidian Venus of Praxiteles, who was one of her lovers, was taken from her [PRAXITELES], and he expressed his love for her in an epigram which he inscribed on the base of a statue of Cupid, which he gave to her, and which she dedicated at Thespiae. Such admiration did she excite, that her neighbours dedicated at Delphi a statue of her, made of gold, and resting on a base of Pentelican marble. According to Apollodorus (ap. Athen. 13.591e.) there were two hetairae of the name of Phryne, one of whom was surnamed Clausilegos and the other Saperdium; and according to Herodicus (Ibid.) there were also two, one the Thespian, and the other surnamed Sestus. The Thespian Phryne, however, is the only one of whom we have any account. (Athen. xiii. pp. 590, 591, 558, 100.567, e, 583, b. 100.585, e. f.; Aelian, Ael. VH 32 ; Alciphron, Ep. 1.31; Plin. Nat. 34.8. s. 19.10; Propert. 2.5; Jacobs, Att. Alus. vol. iii. pp. 18, &100.36, &c.)

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: