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Mimes of the Courtesans, by Lucian [1928], at

p. 58 p. 59

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Click to enlarge



p. 60 p. 61

MYRTION, a young courtesan

PAMPHILOS, her boy lover

DORIS, her slave

p. 62 p. 63



You are going to marry the daughter of Pheidon, the pilot. Possibly you have already married her. All your vows, all your tears, all your promises, have gone the way of smoke. You have forgotten Myrtion, now that I am in a family way--it is the eighth month. Yes, a big belly is all that is left me from your great love. Pretty soon I shall have to feed an infant, a fine job for a courtesan. For I will never destroy what I shall have brought forth, especially if it is a man-child. I shall name the child Pamphilos and keep him as my consolation. And one day your son will face you and reproach you for having deserted his unfortunate mother.

I know it is not a beautiful girl you have chosen as your wife. I saw her recently at the Thesmophorion games. She was with her mother. I did not think at that time I should lose my Pamphilos on account of such a creature. Why don't you inspect her more

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closely? Examine her face and her eyes. One of these days you might be sorry to have married a woman whose eyes squint. Indeed, they are like a fish's.

But you have seen Pheidon, your fiancée's father. Well, all one needs is to take a good look at his face; there is no need of seeing his daughter after that.


But you are talking nonsense, Myrtion. How long must I hear you talk about pilots' daughters and marriages? Do I know if the bride in question is squint-eyed, snub-nosed or beautiful, or if Pheidon, the Alopekethian, (for it is of him you are talking, I believe) has an ugly daughter? He isn't even a friend of my father's. I recall they had a lawsuit recently over some matter of navigation. I think he owed my father one talent and refused to pay; so that my father hailed him before the maritime court. He had a hard time making the pilot yield; Pheidon never paid the entire sum.

If I wanted to get married, would I have refused the hand of the daughter of Demea who was strategus last year (she is my first cousin on my mother's side) in order to marry the daughter of Pheidon, the pilot? Where have you garnered such queer news? Are these chimeras the inventions of your jealousy?

p. 65


In that case it is not true you are getting married?


You are either crazy or drunk, Myrtion. And strange to say, we had little to drink last night.

MYRTION (Pointing at her slave)

It is Doris who has worried me with such ideas. I sent her to buy some strips of wool for my belly and to make an offering to the Lokheia in my behalf, and she said she met Lesbia, and Lesbia-------Tell it yourself, Doris. Tell him what you have heard and seen. You are sure you haven't made up the story?


May I be run over and crushed by a chariot, if I have told a lie! I never lie. When I was near the Prytaneion I bumped into Lesbia and she stopped me and said with a smile:

"I hear your mistress' fine lover, Pamphilos, is getting married. He is going to marry the daughter of Pheidon."

When I refused to believe it, she advised me to run down the street, Pamphilos's street, and I would surely see garlands and flute players and hear people singing the hymeneal chant.

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And did you go to see?


Certainly. And I found everything Lesbia mentioned..


Now I understand your mistake. Lesbia did not actually fool you, Doris, and you have without doubt imparted the truth to my Myrtion. However, both of you permitted yourselves to become excited about nothing at all. The marriage feast you are talking about is not being celebrated in our house. I remember now that last night, upon my return home from your side, dear Myrtion, my mother happened to remark:

"Pamphilos, your friend Charmides, the son of our neighbor Aristainetos, is getting married to a good girl; he has curbed his wild desires and become respectable. Till when, son, will you continue with your shameful courtesans?"

I paid no attention to what my mother had to say. Those old folks will never understand. I went to bed. I left my home at sunrise this morning, so that I noticed absolutely nothing of what Doris was to see later. If you don't believe me, Doris, return and examine with

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care, not only the street, but also the door. You will see which door is decorated with garlands.


You have saved my life, Pamphilos. I would have strangled myself.


It will never, never happen. I am not so foolish. I will never forget my Myrtion, especially when she carries a child of mine in her belly. How I would like to lie with you now! You are even more beautiful with your belly bulging big. Oh, Myrtion, let me!


Have me, dear Pamphilos! But lean lightly.

Next: The Lesbians