Mimes of the Courtesans, by Lucian , at sacred-texts.com
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MOUSARION, a courtesan, 18 years old
p. 21 p. 22 p. 23
If you ever find another lover like Chaireas, my dear Mousarion, we shall have to sacrifice a white goat to the popular Aphrodite and a heifer to the Uranian of the Gardens, and we shall crown with flowers the kind Demeter, from whom all riches flow. For we shall be happy. Yes, thrice happy!
You should understand by now how much we are ever likely to get from that young man. He hasn't given us a single obole, or one piece of clothing or a pair of slippers, and not a box of perfumes. His only stock in trade seems to be pretexts, promises and fine hopes. He is always mumbling:
"If my father ever and------I become master of the estate, everything, everything will be yours." You say he has sworn to marry you legally?
He did, mother. He swore by the two goddesses and by Athena Palleas.
And you believe all that? Why, the other day, when he did not have enough money to pay a debt, you handed him your ring; you said nothing to me. And he traded it for a few drinks. Then followed both of your Ionic necklaces, each of which weighs no less than two darikes. The armorer Praxias of Chios had to send to Ephesus to get them for you. Well, dear Chaireas had better start paying what he owes us. I won't say anything about your linen and shirts. Every lover naturally gives those things. But Chaireas isn't much of an asset as a lover.
But he is so handsome. There isn't a sign of a hair on his chin. And he tells me he loves me and often weeps while he is saying that he loves me. Furthermore, he is the son of Dinomache and Lathes the Areopagite. We shall get married as soon as the old man shuts his eyes for good.
Well, Mousarion. Whenever we are in need of shoes and the cobbler says, "Two drachmas, please," we shall tell him, "Sorry, we have no money, but won't you take a few fine hopes?" And when the flour merchant presents his bill, we'll say, "Wait. The old
[paragraph continues] Laches Collyetus will soon be dead. We shall pay after the marriage ceremony." Aren't you ashamed of yourself? You are the only one among courtesans without a pair of earrings, without a necklace, or one Tarentine tunic?
Why should I feel ashamed, mother? Are the other courtesans happier or better looking?
But they are more intelligent. They understand their business. They don't let their heads be turned by fine phrases and promises. You are faithful; you love Chaireas like a husband, you don't let another soul touch you. That is the trouble with you. The other day, when the Acharnian farmer boy offered you two hundred drachmas, the full price of the wine he had sold for his father in the city, and the Acharnian had no hair on his chin, either, you laughed at the poor boy and lay down instead with Chaireas, your Adonis.
But, mother, you surely did not expect me to abandon Chaireas and receive in his place that peasant with his smell of goats and cow-dung? Chaireas's skin is so
smooth and soft. It is just like the skin of a suckling pig from Acharnai.
Fine. That was a rustic who smelled of goats and cow-dung. But what about Antiphon, the son of Menecrates? Why didn't you receive Antiphon? He offered you a hundred drachmas for the pleasure of one night? Isn't he handsome? Isn't he a man of the world? Isn't he citified? Is Antiphon a day older than your dear little Chaireas?
But Chaireas says he will kill both of us if he ever finds him with me.
How those young fellows do threaten and boast! In that case, you will remain without lovers, you will become an honest woman. Why don't you forget that you are a courtesan and put on the dress of the priestesses of the Thesmophorion goddess? But let us leave that. Today is the day of Aloa, a feast of Demeter. What has your little darling given you for the holiday?
Always you think and speak only of what he will give me. He gives me himself. Has any courtesan more? But--there mother, do not weep. His father has promised him a fine gift of money. Chaireas promised
to give whatever stipend he receives to me. He is generous. Have no fear, dear mother.
Let us hope it isn't more lying. Don't you forget my words, Mousarion. I'll have occasion to remind you of your folly.