A Woman to Know: Phryne
|Julia Carpenter||Mar 16, 2016|
Phryne was once the most illustrious courtesans of us by far. — Poet Posiddippus
(Phryne by Jean-Léon Gérome, image via Wikimedia Commons)
Phryne was one of the most notorious courtesans, or "heterai," of Ancient Greece. She'd dated around in Athens and posed for multiple sculptures of Aphrodite, and legend even has it that her frolicking in the ocean inspired Appelle's famous depiction of Venus rising from the waves. As the writer Posidippus recounted in his comic poetry:
And even though you are too young, girl, to remember that time
you must at least have heard of her trial.
Phryne was ultimately charged with "blasphemy" (sure). But get this: she was so beautiful and so brazen that before the entire court (of men, duh, this is ancient Greece), all she does is shrug off her robe and reveal her gorgeous naked body.
And then, of course, they acquitted her. How could men of Greece condemn such a "prophetess of Aphrodite," as they then called her?
Add to your reading list:
The Female Portrait Statue in the Greek World (Sheila Dillon)
A Historical Review of the Female Nude in Greek Art (Christine Mitchell Havelock)
The Rhetoric of the Body: Phryne's Trial (Laura McClure)
The Honest Courtesan (Maggie McNeill)
Hetaira (University of Chicago)
Praxiteles and Phryne (Yale Book of American Verse)
Sculpting Aphrodite: Praxiteles, Phryne, and the Knidia (J. Paul Getty Museum)
Aphrodite's Representation in Art (Oxford University Press)
7 badass women of Greek antiquity (The Pappas Post)
Hyperides and the Trial of Phryne (Craig Cooper)
Hetaira in Ancient Greek Art (The Role of Women in Ancient Greece)
Phryne in Modern Art, Cinema and Cartoon (Eleanora Cavallini)
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