Hiram Powers, The Greek Slave
They say Ideal beauty cannot enter The house of anguish. On the threshold stands An alien Image with enshackled hands, Called the Greek Slave! as if the artist meant her (That passionless perfection which he lent her, Shadowed not darkened where the sill expands) To so confront man’s crimes in different lands With man’s ideal sense. Pierce to the centre, Art’s fiery finger! and break up ere long The serfdom of this world. Appeal, fair stone, From God’s pure heights of beauty against man’s wrong! Catch up in thy divine face, not alone East griefs but west, and strike and shame the strong, By thunders of white silence, overthrown. — Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Poems, 1850
From Cincinnati to Florence
An American Venus
The story of The Greek Slave
The Slave has been taken from one of the Greek Islands by the Turks, in the time of the Greek revolution….Her father and mother, and perhaps all her kindred, have been destroyed by her foes, and she alone preserved as a treasure too valuable to be thrown away. She is now among barbarian strangers…and she stands exposed to the gaze of the people she abhors, and awaits her fate with intense anxiety, tempered indeed by the support of her reliance upon the goodness of God. Gather all these afflictions together, and add to them the fortitude and resignation of a Christian, and no room will be left for shame.
“The Greek Slave is clothed all over with sentiment; sheltered, protected by it from every profane eye. Brocade, cloth of gold, could not be a more complete protection than the vesture of holiness in which she stands.”