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Here Turner moves from ancient Rome to Athens, at the same time apparently conflating two classical legends with characteristic freedom. Phryne, a famous courtesan, once celebrated the festival of Poseidon by going naked into the sea at Eleusis near Athens. Her near-contemporary Demosthenes once taunted Aeschynes, his rival as an orator, of being the son of a courtesan (but not of Phryne herself).

August 2004