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  • That Phryne--what a nut. ;-)

    November 5, 2007

  • a spectacular legal stunt

    1943 - Ellsworth Toohey wrote in his column: "Mr. Roark pulled a Phryne in court and didn't get away with it. We never believed that story in the first place." - Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead - Book 2, Chapter 13, page 368.

    The story: Phryne was one of the most prominent courtesans of ancient Greece, famous for the following publicity stunt, reminiscent of Janet Jackson's 'wardrobe malfunction'.

    "It was the day of the Eleusinian festivals; twenty thousand people had come from all the countries of Greece and were assembled on the beach when Phryne advanced towards the waves: she took off her robe, she undid her girdle, she even removed her undergarment, "she unrolled all her hair and she stepped into the sea."

    Profaning the Eleusinian mysteries was a capital offense considered more serious than murder. Phryne was brought up on charges; and "it became apparent that the judges meant to condemn her." Her desperate advocate then saved his case with a spectacular coup. "Tearing off her undervests he laid bare her bosom and broke into such piteous lamentation … that he caused the judges to feel superstitious fear of this handmaid and ministrant of Aphrodite, and indulging their feeling of compassion, they refrained from putting her to death." (Sources: web-translations of classical authors. Accounts differ in details, but all agree that bared breasts saved the lady.)

    November 5, 2007