Historical Reprints Fiction Aphrodite : Ancient Manners

Aphrodite : Ancient Manners

Aphrodite : Ancient Manners
Catalog # SKU1854
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Pierre Louys



Ancient Manners

Pierre Louÿs

The five books of Aphrodite published in one volume! This fictional tale of our most mysterious goddess.. the goddess of love.

One day, Denys brought him three courtesans and told him to choose the one who pleased him most. Aristippos kept all three, saying in excuse that Paris had been none the happier by preferring one woman above all others.

Afterwards, he conducted the girls to his door and dismissed them; with so much ease could he either indulge in love or cure himself of it.

(Life of Aristippos).

Excerpt from the Preface

The erudite Prodicos of Ceos, who flourished toward the end of the first century before our era, is the author of the celebrated apologue which St. Basil recommended to Christian meditation: "Herakles between virtue and voluptuousness." We know that Herakles decided for the first, and was thus enabled to accomplish a certain number of great crimes against the Hinds, the Amazons, the Golden Apples and the Giants. If Prodicos had limited himself to that, he would have written only a fable of readily comprehended symbolism, but he was a clever philosopher and his repertory of tales, "The Hours," which was divided into three parts, presented the moral truths under their three different aspects which correspond to the three ages of life. For little children he was pleased to propose as an example the austere choice of Herakles; to youths he doubtless related the voluptuous choice of Paris; and I imagine that, to ripe men, he said nearly this:

"Odysseus was wandering in the chase one day, at the foot of the mountains of Delphi, when he met on his path two virgins who held each other by the hand. The one had hair of violets, transparent eyes, and grave lips; she said to him: 'I am Arete.'

The other had softly tinted eyelids, delicate hands and tender breasts; she said to him: 'I am Tryphe.' And they said together: 'Choose between us.'

But the subtle Odysseus responded wisely: 'How could I choose-you are inseparable. The eyes which have seen you pass-one without the other-have glimpsed but a sterile shadow. Just as sincere virtue does not deprive itself of the eternal joys which voluptuousness brings to it, so luxury would go ill without a certain grandeur of soul. I will follow you both. Show me the way.'

As he finished, the two visions melted together and Odysseus knew that he had spoken with the great goddess Aphrodite."

The feminine personage who occupies the principal place in the romance whose pages you are about to turn, is an antique courtesan; but be reassured: she will not convert herself.

She will be loved neither by a monk, a prophet, nor a god. In present-day literature, this is an originality.

Rather she will be a courtesan, with all the frankness, the ardor and the pride of every human being who has a vocation and who holds in society a freely chosen place; she will aspire to raise herself to the highest point; she will not even imagine a need for excuse or mystery in her life. And this requires explanation.


LYING upon her bosom, her elbows forward, her feet apart and her cheek resting in her hand, she pierced little symmetrical holes in the pillow of green linen with a long golden pin.

Since she had awakened, two hours after mid-day, and quite tired from having slept too much, she had remained alone upon the disordered bed, one side covered by a vast flood of hair.

This mass of hair was deep and dazzling, soft as a fur, longer than a wing, supple, numberless, full of life and warmth. It half-covered her back, spread itself under her body and glittered to her very knees in thick and rounded ringlets. The young woman was rolled up in this precious fleece whose golden brown, almost metallic, reflections had caused the women of Alexandria to name her Chrysis.

It was not the smooth hair of the Syrians of the court, nor the tinted hair of the Asiatics, nor the brown and black hair of the daughters of Egypt. It was that of an Aryan race, of the Galilæans from beyond the desert.

Chrysis. She loved that name. The young men who came to see her called her Chrysè like Aphrodite in the verses which they left, with garlands of roses, at her door in the mornings. She did not believe in Aphrodite but she was pleased that they should compare her to the goddess, and she went sometimes to the temple to give her, as to a friend, boxes of perfume and blue veils.

She was born on the banks of the lake of Gennesaret in a country of shadow and of sun, over-run with rose-laurels. Het mother went in the evenings to wait upon the road to Jerusalem for travelers and merchants, in the midst of the pastoral silence. She was a woman much respected in Galilee.

The priests did not avoid her door for she was charitable and pious; the lambs of the sacrifice were always paid for by her, the benediction of the Eternal extended over her house. But when she became enceinte, her condition was a matter of gossip-for she lived alone. A man who was celebrated for the gift of prophecy said that she would bear a daughter who would one day wear at her throat "the wealth and the faith of a nation." She did not quite understand how that could be but she named the child Sarah-this is to say Princess, in Hebrew. And this silenced the scandals.

Of this Chrysis had never known, the diviner having told her mother how dangerous it is to reveal to people prophecies of which they are the objects. She knew nothing of her future; wherefore she often thought of it. She recalled but little of her childhood and did not like to speak of it. The only very clear sentiment which had remained with her was of the fright and the. vexation which were caused every day by the anxious surveillance of her mother who, the hour being come to go forth upon the road, shut her up in their room for interminable hours.

She recalled also the round window through which she saw the waters of the lake, the mist-blue fields, the transparent sky, the light air of the Galilæan country. The house was surrounded by pink flax and tamarisks. Thorny caper bushes raised their green heads at hazard over the fine mist of the blue-grass. Little girls bathed in a limpid brook where red shells could be found under tufts of laurel blossoms. And there were flowers on the water, flowers in all the meadow and great lilies on the mountains.

She was twelve years old when she escaped to follow a troop of young riders who were going to Tyre as merchants of ivory and whom she had chanced to meet beside a well. They had adorned their long-tailed horses with many-colored tufts. She recalled well how they carried her away, pale with joy, on their mounts, and how they had halted later for the night-a night so bright that not a star could be seen.

Neither had she forgotten their entry into Tyre, she at the head, on the panniers of a pack horse, holding to the mane by her fists, flaunting her bare calves to the townswomen, proud now to be a woman herself. The same evening they departed for Egypt. She followed the sellers of ivory to the market of Alexandria.

Softcover, 8¼" x 6¾, 210+ pages

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