Illia is Piraeus’s most popular person: an energetic prostitute, full of life and good humor. Every day, she swims at the pier, entertaining the dock hands. Sundays she has an open house with food, drink and song. Homer Thrace, an amateur philosopher from Middletown, Conn., arrives in town to find out why Greece has fallen from ancient greatness. He decides Illia is a symbol of that fall, so he sets out to study and to save her. Unknown to Illia, he gets the money for the books and all else he gives her from Mr. No Face, the local vice boss who wants Illia retired because her independence gives other whores ideas. Whose spirit is stronger: Homer’s classical ideal or Illia’s?