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virtuous beauty was seldom to be seen. The modest women were confined to
their own apartments, and were visited only by their husbands and
nearest relations. The courtezans offered themselves every where to
view; and their beauty as might be expected, obtained universal homage.
Greece was governed by eloquent men; and the celebrated courtezans,
having an influence over those orators must have had an influence on
public affairs. There was not one, not even the thundering, the
inflexible Demosthenes, so terrible to tyrants, but was subjected to
their sway. Of that great master of eloquence it has been said, "What he
had been a whole year in erecting, a woman overturned in a day." That
influence augmented their consequence; and their talent of pleasing
increased with the occasions of exerting it.
The laws and the public institutions, indeed, by authorizing the
privacy of women, set a high value on the sanctity of the marriage vow.
But in Athens, imagination, sentiment, luxury, the taste in arts and
pleasures, was opposite to the laws. The courtezans, therefore may be
said to have come in support of the manners.
There was no check upon public licentiousness; but private infidelity,
which concerned the peace of families, was punished as a crime. By a
strange and perhaps unequalled singularity the men were corrupted, yet
the domestic manners were pure. It seems as if the courtezans had not
been considered to belong to their sex; and, by a convention to which
the laws and the manners bended, while other women were estimated merely
by their virtues, they were estimated only by their accomplishments.
These reasons will in some measure, account for the honors, which the
votaries of Venus so often received in Greece. Otherwise we should have
been at a loss to conceive, why six or seven writers had exerted their
talents to celebrate the courtezans of Athens--why three great painters
had uniformly devoted their pencils to represent them on canvass--and
why so many poets had strove to immortalize them in verses. We should
hardly have believed that so many illustrious men had courted their
society--that Aspasia had been consulted in deliberations of peace and
war--that Phryne had a statue of gold placed between the statues of two
kings at Delphos--that, after death, magnificent tombs had been erected
to their memory.
"The traveller," says a Greek writer, "who, approaching to Athens, sees
on the side of the way a monument which attracts his notice at a
distance, will imagine that it is the tomb of Miltiades or Pericles, or
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