The Strawberry Patch

Enrichment and Inspiration for Beta Sigma Phi Sisters from Marilyn Ross

January 1938 issue of The Torch

Long before Helena Carus, International Honorary Member of Beta Sigma Phi, had heard of our Sisterhood--perhaps even before Beta Sigma Phi was founded, she had become an admirer of Diotima.

Because Mrs. Carus believed her to be the ideal Greek priestess and because she had decided to write a book of "the beautiful and vivid Hellenes" she chose Diotima as her heroine. To her Diotima was the protagonist (main character in a drama or novel) through whom she could show the manner in which "the Greek symbols probably illumined the hearts of the artists of that century, when the genius of mankind reached a strange height of expression never since surpassed."

Born in Chicago, where her family had lived since 1832, Mrs. Carus was educated in one of the early progressive schools of the country, under the influence of Froebel and John Dewey. To this she credits her "stable outlook and vivid though quiet life."

She is married to Gustave Krueger Carus, son of Dr. Paul Carus, editor of "The Monist" and "The Open Court." To her own four children and to others she is passing on the influences which shaped her childhood, by means of the kindergarten which she conducts under the informal auspices of the Pestalozzi Froebel Teachers College and the Francis W. Parker School.

"Reading Nietzsche's rich meticulous German" started her writing poetry in 1918, and her verses have appeared in "Poetry: A Magazine of Verse."

It was through her efforts to share lectures on the history of printing with her children that she first became interested in writing for children generally. She has published numerous stories for them in magazines. Anthropological interests and studies led to the production of a Phoenician novel for children, published in 1930. Because of the urging of her friends she wrote "Artemis, Fare Thee Well"--a book of the same sort for adults.

"One of a group of tall young huntresses, straight of limb, briefly clad, their bows and crimson spears carried with strength and grace as, with their great dogs, they follow the chase through the forests, for food and in the service of Artemis--this is your first glimpse of Diotima, who was young when Greece was young.

"There is as much difference between this story and the majority of novels with classical settings as between the warm life of the models who posed for Praxiteles and the cold beauty of his sculptures.

"It is the tale of a remarkable woman in remarkable age, and of her husband - of their strange meeting, their passion, their life together, and their tragic separation. Against the menacing background of Persian Wars which take her husband, Philip, from her side for summer after summer of campaigning, the story of their marriage and of Diotima's growth in character and wisdom is unfolded. At the close of her life, crowned with honors, a priestess of the goddess Demeter, she meets and talks with the young Socrates. To him she reveals the exquisite poetic philosophy which has guided her through the hardships and sorrows of her life.

"Moving as rhythmically as a ritual dance, this is a singularly beautiful and unusual story."

Mrs. Carus has received many wonderful press notices for the book--ten of which we are quoting below.

It is a book every Beta Sigma Phi would enjoy having in her own library. They call it "beautiful"--this novel.

Press Notices
By Helena Carus

"Unique and lyrically engaging . . . . delicately beautiful . . . ideally and socially sound."
New York Times Book Review.

"A graceful, nostalgic story."  Golden Book

"Scholarship infused with imagination."  Saturday Review of Literature

"This beautiful story eloquently told."  Boston Transcript

"There is beauty in the book, a calm, static, classic . . . loveliness."
Dorothy Canfield

"In its technical finish, its detached perception, its skillful evocation of a bygone world, it has reaped the rewards of its theme."  The Nation

"Mrs. Carus's imagination clothes the bare bones of research with flesh."
The Villager

"Mrs. Carus's prose is clear, liquid, translucent as an opal, shot with fire and beauty. Many passages are almost blank verse."  Chicago Tribune

"The intimate details of family life in that far-off time become as clear as the realities of our modern world . . . The physical aspects of love are described with a beauty wholly classical."
Chicago News

"You should read it and become intimately familiar with this lovely tale. It is written with a chasteness of literary discrimination and with a sense of values by a woman who is wife, mother, poet, and teacher, in an effort to encompass the entire philosophy of love."
Dr. Preston Bradley

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