Phryne, an Athenian hetaira or courtesan, of the latter part of the 4th century B. C, born in Thespiae, Boeotia. She was of very humble birth, and at first was employed in gathering capers; but her transcendent beauty attracting rich admirers, she acquired so much wealth that, after Alexander destroyed the walls of Thebes, she offered to rebuild them, if she could be permitted to put up the following inscription: " Alexander destroyed them, but Phryne the courtesan rebuilt them." Among her lovers were some of the most distinguished men of the age. Being accused of profaning the mysteries of Eleusis, she was brought before the court of the heliasts, when the orator Hyperides, perceiving that his eloquence would fail, secured her triumphant acquittal by unveiling her bosom before the judges. Praxiteles modelled from her the Cnidian Venus, and the picture of Apelles called "Venus Anadyomene" is said to have been taken from Phryne.
See Epizoa, vol. vi., p. 696.
See Natural Philosophy.
Piaster (Span, and Ital. piastra), a silver coin and money of account, used chiefly in Turkey and the Levant, and called in Turkish ghersh. It is of very variable value. The actual present value of the official piaster of Constantinople is 4.383 cents, but it is reckoned in the United States at 4.369 cents. This is the 100th part of the gold coin called a med-jidie. The small coin called a piaster, about the size of a half dime, is worth about 4 cents. The term piaster is also applied to the Spanish and Italian dollars, and is used in South America and the West Indies.
Piazza Armerina, a town of Sicily, in the province and 17 m. S. E. of the city of Cal-tanisetta; pop. about 23,000. It is situated on the crests and slopes of an isolated hill more than 1,500 ft. high, rising in the midst of luxuriant foliage. The vicinity abounds with pine and other trees, and from its abundance of shade tempering the summer heat it has received the designation of la deliziosa. The cathedral rises on one of the two crests of the hill, and a feudal castle now used as a prison on the other. The principal products are wine and nuts. Many landed proprietors reside here.
Piblius Syrus, a Latin comic poet, who flourished at Rome at the time of Caesar's death (44 B. C). He was a native of Syria, and was brought to Rome as a slave; but his master had him instructed and gave him his freedom. He improved the mimic art, and it is said by St. Jerome that a collection, of moral sentences from the farces of Publius was a school book at Rome. A collection of this kind, comprising upward of 1,000 lines, each forming an apophthegm, extant under the title of Puhlii Syri Sententioe, is in reality a compilation from various sources.
Piccolomini, an Italian family, associated with the history of Siena and Amalfi. AEneas Sylvius Piccolomini in 1458 became pope as Pius II. His sister, Laodomia Todeschini, was the mother of Pius III., who died a few weeks after his election in 1503. Other prominent members of the family w'ere Alessandro (1508-'78), a prelate of Siena, and one of the first scholars who used the Italian language in philosophical writings, and Francesco (1520-1604), a follower of Plato, teacher of philosophy at Siena and other places, and author of Universa Philosophia de Moribus (Venice, 1583).