Now Phryne was a native of Thespiæ; and being prosecuted by Euthias on a capital charge, she was acquitted: on which account Euthias was so indignant that he never instituted any prosecution afterwards, as Hermippus tells us. But Hyperides, when pleading Phryne's cause, as he did not succeed at all, but it was plain that the judges were about to condemn her, brought her forth into the middle of the court, and, tearing open her tunic and displaying her naked bosom, employed all the end of his speech, with the highest oratorical art, to excite the pity of her judges by the sight of her beauty, and inspired the judges with a superstitious fear, so that they were so moved by pity as not to be able to stand the idea of condemning to death “a prophetess and priestess of Venus.” And when she was acquitted, a decree was drawn up in the following form: “That hereafter no orator should endeavour to excite pity on behalf of any [p. 943] one, and that no man or woman, when impeached, shall have his or her case decided on while present.” But Phryne was a really beautiful woman, even in those parts of her person which were not generally seen: on which account it was not easy to see her naked; for she used to wear a tunic which covered her whole person, and she never used the public baths. But on the solemn assembly of the Eleusinian festival, and on the feast of the Posidonia, then she laid aside her garments in the sight of all the assembled Greeks, and having undone her hair, she went to bathe in the sea; and it was from her that Apelles took his picture of the Venus Anadyomene; and Praxiteles the statuary, who was a lover of hers, modelled the Cnidian Venus from her body; and on the pedestal of his statue of Cupid, which is placed below the stage in the theatre, he wrote the following inscription:—
Praxiteles has devoted earnest careAnd he gave Phryne the choice of his statues, whether she chose to take the Cupid, or the Satyrus which is in the street called the Tripods; and she, having chosen the Cupid, consecrated it in the temple at Thespiæ. And the people of her neighbourhood, having had a statue made of Phryne herself, of solid gold, consecrated it in the temple of Delphi, having had it placed on a pillar of Pentelican marble; and the statue was made by Praxiteles. And when Crates the Cynic saw it, he called it “a votive offering of the profligacy of Greece.” And this statue stood in the middle between that of Archidamus, king of the Lacedæmonians, and that of Philip the son of Amyntas; and it bore this inscription— “Phryne of Thespiæ, the daughter of Epicles,” as we are told by Alcetas, in the second book of his treatise on the Offerings at Delphi.
To representing all the love he felt,
Drawing his model from his inmost heart:
I gave myself to Phryne for her wages,
And now I no more charms employ, nor arrows,
Save those of earnest glances at my love.