As this custom, then, exists with reference to this goddess, Xenophon the Corinthian, when going to Olympia, to the games, vowed that he, if he were victorious, would bring her some courtesans. And Pindar at first wrote a panegyric on him, which begins thus:—
Praising the house which in th' Olympic gamesBut afterwards he composed a scolium2 on him, which was sung at the sacrificial feasts; in the exordium of Which he turns at once to the courtesans who joined in the sacrifice to Venus, in the presence of Xenophon, while he was sacrificing to the goddess himself; on which account he says—
Has thrice borne off the victory.1
O queen of Cyprus' isle,And the opening lines of the song were these:—
Come to this grove!
Lo, Xenophon, succeeding in his aim,
Brings you a band of willing maidens,
Dancing on a hundred feet.
O hospitable damsels, fairest train[p. 918]
Of soft Persuasion,—
Ornament of the wealthy Corinth,
Bearing in willing hands the golden drops
That from the frankincense distil, and flying
To the fair mother of the Loves,And after having begun in this manner, he proceeds to say—
Who dwelleth in the sky,
The lovely Venus,—you do bring to us
Comfort and hope in danger, that we may
Hereafter, in the delicate beds of Love,
Reap the long-wished-for fruits of joy,
Lovely and necessary to all mortal men.
But now I marvel, and wait anxiouslyAnd it is plain here that the poet, while addressing the courtesans in this way, was in some doubt as to the light in which it would appear to the Corinthians; but, trusting to his own genius, he proceeds with the following verse—
To see what will my masters say of me,
Who thus begin
My scolium with this amatory preface,
Willing companion of these willing damsels.
We teach pure gold on a well-tried lyre.And Alexis, in his Loving Woman, tells us that the courtesans at Corinth celebrate a festival of their own, called Aphrodisia; where he says—
The city at the time was celebrating
The Aphrodisia of the courtesans:
This is a different festival from that
Which the free women solemnize: and then
It is the custom on those days that all
The courtesans should feast with us in common.