Nothing of this kind was uttered near Hermon. Everything that reached him expressed delight, admiration, sympathy, and hope. At dessert the beautiful Glycera divided her apple, whispering as she gave him one half, “Let the fruit tell you what the eyes can no longer reveal, you poor and yet so abundantly rich darling of the gods.”
He murmured in reply that his happiness would awake the envy of the immortals if, in addition, he were permitted to feast upon the sight of her beauty.
Had he been able to see himself, Hermon, who, as a genuine Greek, was accustomed to moderate his feelings in intercourse with others, would have endeavoured to express the emotions of joy which filled his heart with more reserve, and to excel his companions at the festival less recklessly.
His enthusiastic delight carried many away with him; others, especially Daphne, were filled with anxious forebodings by his conduct, and others still with grave displeasure.
Among the latter was the famous leech Erasistratus, who shared Archias’s cushions, and had been solicited by the latter to try to restore his blind nephew’s sight. But the kindly physician, who gladly aided even the poorest sufferer, curtly and positively refused. To devote his time and skill to a blind man who, under the severest of visitations, lulled himself so contentedly in happiness, he considered unjust to others who desired recovery more ardently.
“When the intoxication of this unbridled strength passes away, and is followed by a different mood,” remarked the merchant, “we will talk of this matter again,” and the confident tone of his deep voice gave the simple sentence such significance that the learned leech held out his hand, saying: “Only where deep, earnest longing for recovery fills the sufferer’s mind will the gods aid the physician. We will wait for the change which you predict, Archias!”
The guests did not disperse until late, and the best satisfied of all was the grammateus Proclus, who had taken advantage of the rich merchant’s happy mood, and his own warm intercession in behalf of his nephew’s work, to persuade Archias to advance Queen Arsinoe a large sum of money for an enterprise whose object he still carefully concealed.
The highly honoured blind artist spent the night under his uncle’s roof.
Hermon rose from his couch the next morning alert and ready for new pleasures.
He had scarcely left the bath when envoys from the Ephebi and the younger artists invited him to the festivities which they had arranged in his honour. He joyously accepted, and also promised messengers from many of Archias’s friends, who wished to have the famous blind sculptor among their guests, to be present at their banquets.
He still felt as if he were intoxicated, and found neither disposition nor time for quiet reflection. His great strength, fettered as it were by his loss of sight, now also began to stir. Fate itself withheld him from the labour which he loved, yet in return it offered him a wealth of varying pleasure, whose stimulating power he had learned the day before. He still relished the draught from the beaker of homage proffered by his fellow-citizens; nay, it seemed as if it could not lose its sweetness for a long time.