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of some other great man, who has done honor to his country by his
services. He advances, he reads, and he learns that it is a courtezan of
Athens who is interred with so much pomp."
Theopompus, in a letter to Alexander the Great, speaks also of the same
monument in words to the following effect--"Thus, after her death, is a
prostitute honored; while not one of those brave warriors who fell in
Asia, fighting for you, and for the safety of Greece, has so much as a
stone erected to his memory, or an inscription to preserve his ashes
Such was the homage which that enthusiastic people, voluptuous and
passionate, paid to beauty. More guided by sentiment than reason, and
having laws rather than principles, they banished their great men,
honored their courtezans, murdered Socrates, permitted themselves to be
governed by Aspasia, preserved inviolate the marriage bed, and placed
Phryne in the temple of Apollo!
Among the Romans, a grave and austere people, who, during five hundred
years, were unacquainted with the elegancies and the pleasures of life,
and who, in the middle of furrows and fields of battle, were employed in
tillage or in war, the manners of the women were a long time as solemn
and severe as those of the men, and without the smallest mixture of
corruption, or of weakness.
The time when the Roman women began to appear in public, marks a
particular era in history.
The Roman women, for many ages, were respected over the whole world.
Their victorious husbands re-visited them with transport, at their
return from battle. They laid at their feet the spoils of the enemy, and
endeared themselves in their eyes by the wounds which they had received
for them and for the state. Those warriors often came from imposing
commands upon kings, and in their own houses accounted it an honor to
obey. In vain the too rigid laws made them the arbiters of life and
death. More powerful than the laws, the women ruled their judges. In
vain the legislature, foreseeing the wants which exist only among a
corrupt people, permitted divorce. The indulgence of the polity was
proscribed by the manners.
Such was the influence of beauty at Rome before the licentious
intercourse of the sexes had corrupted both.
The Roman matrons do not seem to have possessed that military courage
which Plutarch has praised in certain Greek and barbarian women; they
partook more of the nature of their sex; or, at least, they departed
less from its character. Their first quality was decency. Every one
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