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ALCIPHRON, a famous Greek rhetorician who flourished in the second century of the Christian era, and attained celebrity through his series of more than a hundred imaginary letters purporting to be written by the very dregs of the Athenian population, including courtesans and petty rogues. Their importance in literature is due almost wholly to the insight they afford into the social conditions and manners and morals of the day. The letters from the courtesans (hetairai) are based upon incidents in Menander's lost plays, and the new Attic comedy was likewise drawn upon for material.


(From the “ Epistolæ," i. 36.)

Petala to Simalion.

WELL, if a girl could live on tears, what a wealthy girl I should be; for you are generous enough with them, anyhow. Unfortunately, however, that is n't quite enough for me. I need money; I must have jewels, clothes, servants, and all that sort of thing. Nobody has left me a fortune, I should like you to know, or any mining stock; and so I am obliged to depend on the little presents that gentlemen happen to make me. Now that I've known you a year, how much better off am I for it, I should like to ask? My head looks like a fright because I have n't had anything to rig it out with all that time; and as to clothes, — why, the only dress I've got in the world is in rags that make me ashamed to be seen with my friends : and yet you imagine that I can go on in this way without having any other means of living ! Oh, yes, of course, you cry; but you 'll stop presently. I'm really surprised at the number of your tears; but really, unless somebody gives me something pretty soon I shall die of starvation. Of course, you pretend you 're just crazy for me, and that you can't live without me.

Well, then, is n't there any family silver in your house ? Has n't your mother any jewelry that you can get hold of? Has n't your father any valuables ? Other girls are luckier than I am; for I have a mourner rather than a lover. He sends me crowns, and he sends me garlands and roses, as if I were dead and buried before my time, and he says that he cries all night. Now, if you can manage to scrape up something for me, you can come here without having to cry your eyes out; but if you can't, why, keep your tears to yourself, and don't bother me !


(From the “ Epistolæ,” ii. 39.)

Euthydicus to Epiphanio. BY ALL the gods and demons, I beg you, dear mother, to leave your rocks and fields in the country, and before you die, discover what beautiful things there are in town. Just think what you are losing, – the Haloan Festival and the Apaturian Festival, and the Great Festival of Bacchus, and especially the Thesmophorian Festival, which is now going on. If you would only hurry up, and get here to-morrow morning before it is daylight, you would be able to take part in the affair with the other Athenian women. Do come, and don't put it off, if you have any regard for my happiness and my brothers'; for it's an awful thing to die without having any knowledge of the city. That's the life of an ox; and one that is altogether unreasonable. Please excuse me, mother, for speaking so freely for your own good. After all, one ought to speak plainly with every body, and especially with those who are themselves plain speakers.


(From the “ Epistolæ,” iii. 16.)

Phyllis to Thrasonides. If you only would put up with the country and be sensible, and do as the rest of us do, my dear Thrasonides, you would offer iry and laurel and myrtle and flowers to the gods at the proper time ; and to us, your parents, you would give wheat and wine and a milk-pail full of the new goat's-milk. But as things are, you despise the country and farming, and are fond only of the helmet-plumes and the shield, just as if you were an Acarnanian or a Malian soldier. Don't keep on in this way, my son ; but come back to us and take up this peaceful life of ours again (for farming is perfectly safe and free from any danger, and does n't require bands of soldiers and strategy and squadrons), and be the stay of our old age, preferring a safe life to a risky one.


(From the “ Epistolæ,” iii. 31.)

Philocomus to Thestylus. SINCE I have never yet been to town, and really don't know at all what the thing is that they call a city, I am awfully anxto see this strange sight, - men living all in one place, - and to learn about the other points in which a city differs from the country. Consequently, if you have any reason for going to town, do come and take me with you. As a matter of fact, I am sure there are lots of things I ought to know, now that my beard is beginning to sprout; and who is so able to show me the city as yourself, who are all the time going back and forth to the town?


(From the “ Epistolæ,” iii. 49.)

Capnosphrantes to Aristomachus. I should like to ask my evil genius, who drew me by lot as his own particular charge, why he is so malignant and so cruel as to keep me in everlasting porerty ; for if no one happens to invite me to dinner I have to live on greens, and to eat acorns and to fill my stomach with water from the hydrant. Now, as long as my body was to put up with this sort of thing, and my time of life was such as made it proper for me to bear it, I could get along with them fairly well ; but now that my hair is growing gray, and the only outlook I have is in the direction of old age, what on earth am I going to do? I shall really have to get a rope and hang myself unless my luck changes. However, even if fortune remains as it is, I shan't string myself up before I have at least one square meal ; for before very long, the wedding of Charitus and Leocritis, which is going to be a famous affair, will come off, to which there is n't a doubt that I shall be invited, - either to the wedding itself or to the banquet afterward. It's lucky that weddings need the jokes of brisk fellows like myself, and that without us they would be as dull as gatherings of pigs rather than of human beings!


(From the “ Epistolæ,” iii. 54.)

Chytrolictes to Patellocharon. PERHAPS you would like to know why I am complaining so, and how I got my head broken, and why I'm going around with my clothes in tatters. The fact is I swept the board at gambling: but I wish I had n't ; for what's the sense in a feeble fellow like me running up against a lot of stout young men ? You see, after I scooped in all the money they put up, and they had n't a cent left, they all jumped on my neck, and some of them punched me, and some of them stoned me, and some of them tore my clothes off my back. All the same, I hung on to the money as hard as I could, because I would rather die than give up anything of theirs I had got hold of; and so I held out bravely for quite a while, not giving in when they struck me, or even when they bent my fingers back. In fact, I was like some Spartan who lets himself be whipped as a test of his endurance : but unfortunately it was n't at Sparta that I was doing this thing, but at Athens, and with the toughest sort of an Athenian gambling crowd ; and so at last, when actually fainting, I had to let the ruffians rob me. They went through my pockets, and after they had taken everything they could find, they skipped. After all, I 've come to the conclusion that it's better to live without money than to die with a pocket full of it.



Alcott, Amos Bronson, an American educator and philosopher, born at Wolcott, Conn., November 29, 1799, died at Boston, Mass., March 4, 1888. While a boy he went to the South with a trunk of merchandise, with which he travelled from plantation to plantation, The planters received him hospitably, and lent him books, which he studied diligently, and thus educated himself in the strictest sense of the term. He returned to Connecticut and opened an infant school. In 1828 he removed to Boston, where he conducted a similar school for some years, and subsequently took up his residence at Concord, Mass. After a visit to England, in 1842, he established an educational community near Harvard, Mass., which was soon afterward abandoned, when he returned to Concord and took upon himself the work of a peripatetic philosopher, lecturing and conversing, as invitations were extended to him, upon a wide range of topics, among which were divinity, ethics, dietetics, and human nature in general. In the meanwhile he contributed, under the title of “Orphic Sayings,” a series of transcendental papers to The Dial, a magazine edited by Margaret Fuller and Ralph Waldo Emerson, and published several books, among which are “Conversations with Children on the Gospels” (1836), “Spiritual Culture” (1840), “ Tablets ” (1868), “Concord Days” (1872), “ Table-Talk" (1877), and "Sonnets and Canzonets" (1882).

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(From " Table-Talk.") LIKE its suburban neighbor beside the Charles, our village, seated along the banks of its Indian stream, spreads a rural cradle for the fresher literature; and aside from these advantages it well deserves its name for its quiet scenery and plain population. Moreover, few spots in New England have won a like literary repute. The rural muse has traversed these fields, meadows, woodlands, the brook-sides, the river; caught the harmony of its changing skies, and portrayed their spirit in books that are fit to live while Letters delight, and Nature charms her lovers. Had Homer, had Virgil, fairer prospects than our landscape affords? Had Shakespeare or Goethe a more luxuriant

1 By permission of Little, Brown & Company.

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