Philotimo in the Beauty Parlor

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Rachel Hadas

Philotimo in the Beauty Parlor



In Ilissia, a pleasant neighborhood of Athens near the Hilton, late one sunny morning in the middle of June, from my perch in the beauty parlor and from behind the veil of another language, I’m suddenly privy to what sounds like a proverb. Only seven words in Greek, it loses some of its punch in translation: If you are an honorable person, they will trample you.
   Less aphorism, maybe, than a gnomic truth—a truth emphatically declared, with crystal diction, by a client waiting for her dye job. Who is she addressing? Everyone and no one. The manicurist (blonde, petite) and pedicurist (willowy, brunette), their four hands working busily on me, nod in acknowledgement, and say a word or two. I steal a glance at the . . .
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