Phryne (φρύνη), var en græsk hetære, kendt for sin enestående skønhed, (“even in those parts of her person which were not generally seen“) rigdom og ikke mindst for retsagen mod hende, hvor hun blev forsvaret af sin elsker, oratoren Hypereides, som, da sagen så ud til at skulle tabes, hev tøjet af hende foran dommerne på Areopagos og lod hendes skønhed fylde dem med overtroisk frygt og selvfølgelig bevæge dem så meget, at de da slet ikke nænnede at dømme hende, dette levende billede på Venus, til døden. Phryne, som egentlig hed Mnesaréte (Μνησαρέτη) men havde tilnavnet phryne, som betyder tudse – et tilnavn ofte givet til prostituerede og lign. – levede i det fjerde århundrede f.v.t. og er omtalt hos Plutarch og Pausanias og flere andre og ikke mindst hos Athenaeus (samtidig med Marcus Aurelius), som femhundrede år og hel del sladder senere fortæller følgende anekdoter:
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 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 care
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.
And 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.
Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae 13.59, ovrs: C. D. Yonge 1854 (via Perseus)
Alt dette er selv følgelig intet andet end en undskyldning for at gøre opmærksom på Jean-Léon Gérômes fantastiske maleri Phryné devant l’Areopage fra 1861. Gérômes sans for detaljer kommer i den grad til udtryk i ansigterne på de forsamlede og maleriet indeholder i øvrigt en vidunderlig blanding af komik og drama og – ikke at forglemme – kvindelig skønhed, som vi herfra kun kan bifalde på det kraftigste.
But Apollodorus, in his book on Courtesans, says that there were two women named Phryne, one of whom was nicknamed Clausigelos,1 and the other Saperdium. But Herodicus, in the sixth book of his Essay on People mentioned by the Comic Poets, says that the one who is mentioned by the orators was called Sestos, because she sifted and stripped bare all her lovers; and that the other was the native of Thespiæ. But Phryne was exceedingly rich, and she offered to build a wall round Thebes, if the Thebans would inscribe on the wall, “Alexander destroyed this wall, but Phryne the courtesan restored it;” as Callistratus states in his treatise on Courtesans. And Timocles the comic poet, in his Neæra, has mentioned her riches (the passage has been already cited); and so has Amphis, in his Curis. And Gryllion was a parasite of Phryne’s, though he was one of the judges of the Areopagus; as also Satyrus, the Olynthian actor, was a parasite of Pamphila. But Aristogiton, in his book against Phryne, says that her proper name was Mnesarete; and I am aware that Diodorus Periegetes says that the oration against her which is ascribed to Euthias, is really the work of Anaximenes. But Posidippus the comic poet, in his Ephesian Women, speaks in the following manner concerning her:—
Before our time, the Thespian Phryne was
Far the most famous of all courtesans;
And even though you’re later than her age,
Still you have heard of the trial which she stood.
She was accused on a capital charge
Before the Heliæa, being said
To have corrupted all the citizens;
But she besought the judges separately
With tears, and so just saved herself from judgment.
Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae 13.60, ovrs: C. D. Yonge 1854. (via Perseus)