Sunday, May 21, 2017

Shadows of a Timeless Myth Aspasia Chosen of Pericles

ASPASIA CHOSEN OF PERICLES

470 B.C.

ASPASIA, daughter of Axiochus, was a native of Miletus, beautiful, well-educated, and ambitious. She resided at Athens, and is affirmed, though upon very doubtful evidence, to have kept slave-girls to be let out as courtesans. Whatever may be the case with this report, which is probably one of the scandals engendered by political animosity against Pericles, it is certain that, so remarkable were her own fascinations, her accomplishments, and her powers, not merely of conversation, but even of oratory and criticism, that the most distinguished Athenians of all ages and characters—Socrates among the number—visited her, and several of them took their wives along with them to hear her also. The free citizen-women of Athens lived in strict and almost Oriental recluseness, as well after being married as when single: everything which concerned their lives, their happiness, or their rights, was determined or managed for them by male relatives; and they seem to have been destitute of all mental culture and accomplishments. Their society presented no charm nor interest, which men accordingly sought for in the company of the class of women called Hetæræ, or courtesans, literally female companions who lived a free life, managed their own affairs, and supported themselves by their powers of pleasing. These women were numerous, and were doubtless of every variety of personal character; but the most distinguished and superior among them, such as Aspasia and Theodote, appear to have been the only women in Greece, except the Spartan, who either inspired strong passion or exercised mental ascendancy.

Pericles had been determined in his choice of a wife by those family considerations which were held almost obligatory at Athens, and had married a woman very nearly related to him, by whom he had two sons, Xanthippus and Paralus. But the marriage, having never been comfortable, was afterwards dissolved by mutual consent, according to that full liberty of divorce which the Attic law permitted, and Pericles concurred with his wife's male relations (who formed her legal guardians) in giving her away to another husband. He then took Aspasia to live with him; had a son by her, who bore his name; and continued ever afterwards on terms of the greatest intimacy and affection with her.

Without adopting those exaggerations which represent Aspasia as having communicated to Pericles his distinguished eloquence, or even as having herself composed orations for public delivery, we may well believe her to have been qualified to take interest and share in that literary and philosophical society which frequented the house of Pericles, and which his unprincipled son Xanthippus, disgusted with his father's regular expenditure as withholding from him the means of supporting an extravagant establishment, reported abroad with exaggerated calumnies, and turned into derision. It was from that worthless young man, who died of the Athenian epidemic during the lifetime of Pericles, that his political enemies and the comic writers of the day were mainly furnished with scandalous anecdotes to assail the private habits of this distinguished man. The comic writers attacked him for alleged intrigues with different women; but the name of Aspasia they treated as public property, without any mercy or reserve: she was the Omphale, the Dejanira, or the Here, to the great Heracles or Zeus of Athens. At length one of these comic writers, Hermippus, not contented with scenic attacks, indicted her before the dikastery for impiety, as participant in the philosophical discussions held, and the opinions professed, in the society of Pericles by Anaxagoras and others. Against Anaxagoras himself, too, a similar indictment is said to have been preferred, either by Cleon or by Thucydides, son of Milesias, under a general resolution recently passed in the public assembly at the instance of Diopeithes. And such was the sensitive antipathy of the Athenian public, shown afterwards fatally in the case of Socrates, and embittered in this instance by all the artifices of political faction, against philosophers whose opinions conflicted with the received religious dogmas, that Pericles did not dare to place Anaxagoras on his trial. The latter retired from Athens, and a sentence of banishment was passed against him in his absence. But Pericles himself defended Aspasia before the dikastery: in fact, the indictment was as much against him as against her. One thing alleged against her, and also against Pheidias, was the reception of free women to facilitate the intrigues of Pericles.

He defended her successfully, and procured a verdict of acquittal; but we are not surprised to hear that his speech was marked by the strongest personal emotions, and even by tears. The dikasts were accustomed to such appeals to their sympathies, sometimes even to extravagant excess, from ordinary accused persons; but in Pericles, so manifest an outburst of emotion stands out as something quite unparalleled, for constant self-mastery was one of the most prominent features in his character.


Article compiled from sources in the public domain.

Please take a moment to "Like" Shadows In A Timeless Myth on Amazon.


(Shadows is also available at Barnes & Noble for the Nook)

Complimentary Shadows In A Timeless Myth Short Story

Shadows In A Timeless Myth Book Trailer Video

Shadows In a Timeless Myth on Facebook





Smiles & Good Fortune,
Teresa
************************************
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Shadows in a Timeless Myth presents Sappho A Lady of History


SAPPHO

B.C. 568
CCORDING to established data, the more brilliant portion of Sappho's career may be placed in the first half of the sixth century before Christ, while her childhood and early youth belong to the close of the seventh. Her birthplace, according to the more trustworthy authorities, was Mitylene, the metropolis of the isle of Lesbos. Others make her a native of the neighbouring town of Eresus. Whether Sappho was ever married is doubtful; but the balance of evidence is strongly on the negative side of the question. She is familiarly alluded to by Horace as the "Lesbian maiden;" nor is there any notice of a husband, but on a single recent and very questionable authority, where the broadly indecent etymology of the names, both of the man on whom the honour is conferred, and of his birthplace, sufficiently proves them to be fictitious. How far the circumstance of her having had a daughter can be considered as admissible evidence of her having been married, is a point the settlement of which must depend on a closer inquiry into her moral habits. That such was the fact, however, is stated on respectable authority. The name assigned to the maiden is Cleis, the same as that of Sappho's reputed mother.


Sappho is described, by the only authors who have transmitted any distinct notices on the subject, as not distinguished for personal beauty, but as short of stature, and of dark, it may be understood swarthy, complexion. The laudatory commonplace of kalë, or "fair," which Plato and others incidentally connect with her name, no way militates against this account, as implying nothing more, perhaps less, than does the English phrase by which the Greek epithet has above been rendered, and which is as frequently bestowed in familiar usage on plain as on handsome women. Alcæus describes her simply as "dark haired" and "sweetly smiling." No notice is taken of her actual beauty, which an admiring lover would hardly have passed over in silence had it offered matter for warmer eulogy.
Of the extent to which Sappho was brought under the sway of the tender passion which, in one shape or other, formed the theme, with little exception, of her collective works, sufficient evidence exists in her only remaining entire composition, the first ode in the published collections. She there describes herself, in the most touching and impassioned strains, as the victim of an unrequited love, and implores the aid of Venus to ease her pangs by melting the heart of the obdurate or inconstant object of her affection. The person to whom this ode is supposed to refer, or who at least obtained, in the popular tradition, the chief and longest sway over the affections of Sappho, was a Lesbian youth called Phaon, distinguished for his personal attractions and irresistible power over the female heart. For a time he is described as having corresponded to her ardour; but, after cohabiting with her during some years, he deserted her, leaving her in a state of despair, for which the only remedy that suggested itself was that habitually resorted to in such cases—a leap from the summit of the Leucadian promontory into the sea. That she actually carried this purpose into effect was the popular opinion of antiquity, from the age, at least, of Menander downwards, and seems to have passed current as an authentic fact, even with the more intelligent authorities.

Both these points in the history of the poetess, her love for Phaon, and her leap from the Leucadian cliff, have been questioned with more or less plausibility by distinguished critics of the present age. In respect to the first, it has been denied not only that Phaon was the name of the hero of this tragical drama, but that such a person ever existed. The Leucadian leap of Sappho, though ranked by various modern commentators, like the name of her lover, among the mythical elements of her biography, will not perhaps be found, on a critical estimate of the circumstances connected with it, to offer any serious ground of scepticism.

Sappho, in the portrait of her character jointly exhibited in her own works and in the notices of her more candid and intelligent countrymen, appears as a woman of a generous disposition, affectionate heart, and independent spirit, unless when brought under the sway of those tender passions, which lorded over every other influence in her bosom. Of a naturally ardent and excitable temperament, she seems from her earliest years to have been habituated to the enjoyments rather than to the duties, much less the restraints, of Greek female life. Her chief or early occupations were the exercise and display of her brilliant poetical talents and elegant accomplishments; and her voluptuous habits are testified by almost every extant fragment of her poems. Her susceptibility to the passion of love formed, above all, the dominant feature of her life, her character, and her muse. Her indulgence,  however, of this, as of every other appetite, sensual or intellectual, while setting at nought all moral restraints, was marked by her own peculiar refinement of taste, exclusive of every approach to low excess or profligacy.

In the portrait presented to us by the popular authorities of the present day, all the less favourable features of the above sketch are effaced; while the colouring of the remainder has been heightened to a dazzling extreme of beauty and brilliancy, exhibiting a model of perfection, physical and moral, such as was never probably exemplified in woman, and least of all in the prioress of an association of votaries of Venus and the Muses, in one of the most voluptuous states of Greece. The following is the summary of her various excellences, given by one of the popular organs of this amiable but fallacious theory: "In Sappho, a warm and profound sensibility, virgin purity, feminine softness, and delicacy of sentiment and feeling, were combined with the native probity and simplicity of the Æolian character; and, although endued with a fine perception of the beautiful and brilliant, she preferred genuine conscious rectitude to every other source of human enjoyment."

Article compiled from sources in the public domain.

Please take a moment to "Like" Shadows In A Timeless Myth on Amazon.


(Shadows is also available at Barnes & Noble for the Nook)

Complimentary Shadows In A Timeless Myth Short Story

Shadows In A Timeless Myth Book Trailer Video

Shadows In a Timeless Myth on Facebook





Smiles & Good Fortune,
Teresa
************************************
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Shadows In A Timeless Myth presents Lucretia a Lady of 500 B.C.

 LUCRETIA.
500 B.C.
A
A ROMAN woman, illustrious for her beauty and the nobleness of her birth, and more for her virtue. She was married to one Collatinus, a relative of Tarquin, king of Rome. Her tragic story runs thus: Tarquin, not having been able to render himself master of the town of Ardea so promptly as he had calculated, besieged it in form, and the languidness of the operation comported very well with the inclination of the princes to amuse themselves in the way princes are in the habit of doing. At one of the suppers given by Sextus to his two brothers, and to Collatinus their kinsman, a question was raised, not as to the beauty of their mistresses, as is the custom in our day, but as to that of their respective wives. Each maintained that his wife was fairer than those of his companions; and the dispute rising high, Collatinus suggested a means of terminating it. "What is the use of so many words," said he, "we can in a very short time have the proof of the superiority of my Lucretia. Let us mount our horses; let us surprise our wives; and the decision of our question will be the more easy that they are not prepared for us." Inflamed by wine, the princes accepted the proposal, and they rode to Rome at the top of their horses' speed. They there found sitting at table the fair daughters of Tarquin, who were engaged in pleasure with companions of their own age. They next went to Collatium; and though it was now late at night, they found Lucretia in the midst of her servants, engaged in needlework. They all agreed that she carried off the palm, and thereupon returned to the camp; but Sextus, without uttering a word of his purpose, found his way secretly back to Collatium, and was received by Lucretia with that attention and civility that was due to the eldest son of the king, and without the slightest suspicion that he entertained any purpose other than what was honest and good.

After he had supped, he was conducted to the chamber intended for him—not to sleep, for he had other intentions. As soon as he thought that all had repaired to their beds, he stept, sword in hand, into the private chamber of the unsuspecting Lucretia, and after having threatened to kill her if she made any noise, he told her his passion—bringing to serve his purpose prayers the most tender, and menaces the most terrible; in short, employing all the arts by which an impassioned man might attack the heart of a woman. All was in vain: Lucretia was firm, and persisted in her firmness, altogether undismayed by the fear of death; but she trembled at the threat which he made to expose her to the last infamy of woman. He declared that, after despatching her, he would kill a slave, put his dead body on her bed, and make it be believed that the double murder had been the punishment of the adultery in which they had been surprised. Having accomplished his purpose, he retired, as pleased with himself and as proud of his triumph as if it had been a feat of honest war, and all conformable to the rules of gallantry.

Plunged in the deepest grief, Lucretia sent a message to her father, who was at Rome, and her husband, who was at the siege, praying that they might come to her immediately. They obeyed the message; she straightway informed them of all the circumstances of her dishonour, and entreated them to revenge her wrong. They promised that they would comply with her request, and set about endeavouring to console her by what means that were within their power; but she resisted all their efforts of consolation, and, drawing forth a dagger which she had concealed in her clothes, she plunged it into her heart. Brutus, who was present at this spectacle, found in it an occasion for which he had longed to deliver Rome from the tyranny of Tarquin, and he made such excellent use of it, that the royalty was abolished.

This article compiled from historical sources in the public domain.

Please take a moment to "Like" Shadows In A Timeless Myth on Amazon.


(Shadows is also available at Barnes & Noble for the Nook)

Complimentary Shadows In A Timeless Myth Short Story

Shadows In A Timeless Myth Book Trailer Video

Shadows In a Timeless Myth on Facebook





Smiles & Good Fortune,
Teresa
************************************
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915