Phryne the Thespian

Drpn040UUAIaYHU.jpg-large

Phryne the Thespian:

Phryne the Thespian was a notable hetaira, or courtesan, of Athens, who has been remembered throughout the millennia for her dramatic trial which she won by baring her breasts.

According to Athenaeus, Phryne was prosecuted on a capital offense, and was defended by the orator Hypereides, one of her lovers. Athenaeus does not specify the nature of the charge, though some other historical sources state that she was accused of profaning the Eleusinian Mysteries.

Although there is great debate among scholars about what really happened that day in court, Athenaeus wrote that Hypereides tore off Phryne’s dress in the middle of the courtroom to show the judges her beautiful body. His reasoning was that only the gods could sculpt such a perfect body; thus killing or imprisoning her would be seen as blasphemy and disrespect to the gods.

What appeared to be an unfavorable verdict for Phryne turned into a glorious victory for her after the inspired action of Hypereides. Phryne walked out the court triumphant, and her story went on to inspire many works of art, including the iconic painting Phryne before the Areopagus by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1861).

#PhryneTheThespian #AncientGreece #Athens #Trial

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.