Frine, the most beautiful lady of old Greek times
She was a hetaera been born in Tespias in the year 328 B.P. with the name Mnesarete (means “commemorator of the virtue”). In spite of what people think about a hetaera today, relating that status with prostitution, a hetaera was an independent woman who made a living from her culture without any sexual obligation.
Frine was the lover and favorite Musa of the sculptor Praxiteles, and it’s said she was the model of Aphodite of Cnido. But Praxiteles workshop was full of apprentices and helpers, both men and women, and probably Frine had artistic knowledge.
Anywy, her name has extended to history by two amazing anecdotes:
The statue of Eros
Praxiteles offered to Frine the sculpture of his workshop that she wanted. Then Frine, wanting to know what was the sculpture that Praxiteles considered the best, she hatched a plan. She gave instructions to a slave so that during the dinner, he burst in the room shouting that the workshop was in flames. Praxiteles exclaimed: ‘Save my Eros!’ Thus, she knew that one was the best sculpture and she demanded immediately the wonderful Eros as a present.
The trial of Frine
Frine was accused of profanity, a very serious crime in old Greek times (Socrates was sentenced to death for it). Two were the motives: her continuous comparison with Aphrodite (goddess of love, fertility and feminine beauty) due to her personal attractiveness and to have violated the mysteries of Eleusis. By request of Praxiteles, during the trial she was defended by the famous speaker Hiperides.
However, Hiperides was unable of convincing the jury with his speech, so, as a last resort, he made undress Frine before the judges convincing them that ‘it was not possible to prevail the world of such beauty’, who was an alive monument to the goddess.
Afterwards, the jury declared her innocent.
Old legends are always fascinating!