Phryne before the Areopagus Jean-Léon Gérôme

Phryne before the Areopagus: Jean-Léon Gérôme

Phryne before the Areopagus is an 1861 history oil on canvas painting in the Academic style by French artist and sculptor Jean-Léon Gérôme.

The subject matter is a Greek woman named Phryne. Her name can be translated to Toad due to her unhealthy yellowish complexion. Despite her name, she was known as one of the great beauties of ancient Greece, beautiful enough to be a model for many famous Artists like Apelles (Aphrodite rising from the waves) and Praxiteles, and even evade death.

Phryne, also known as Mnesarete was a very wealthy courtesan known for her wit and beauty. A courtesan is a woman who provides sexual services and entertainment to men of higher status. While a wife spent her time in the home, a courtesan was well educated and could be a talker aside from providing sexual services.

Phryne was accused of Impiety, a crime punishable by death in Ancient Greece. Unfortunately, the details of her alleged crimes have been lost to history.

Phryne was defended by an ex-lover called Hypereides. Hypereides was a great orator and delivered a speech for Phyrne and ended by baring her breasts to the jury. They were so captivated by her breasts that she was acquitted of her crime.

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