The Goddess of Liberty. On December 10th, 1793, Mlle, Malliard, an actress, was selected to personify the “Goddess of Liberty.” Being brought to Notre Dame, Paris, she was seated on the altar, and lighted a large candle to signify that Liberty was the “light of the world.” (See LouisBlanc: History, ii. 365-367.)
The statue of Liberty, placed over the entrance of the Palais Royal, was modelled from Mme. Tallien.
The Goddess of Reason.
(Aug. 10, 1793.) The Goddess of Reason was enthroned by the French Convention at the suggestion of Chaumette; and the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris was desecrated for the purpose. The wife of Momoro the printer was the best of these goddesses. The procession was attended by the municipal officers and national guards, while troops of ballet girls carried torches of truth. Incredible as it may seem, Gobet (the Archbishop of Paris), and nearly all the clergy stripped themselves of their canonicals, and, wearing red nightcaps, joined in this blasphemous mockery. So did Julien of Toulouse, a Calvinistic minister.
“Mrs. Momoro, it is admitted, made one of the best goddesses of Reason, though her teeth were a little defective.” —Carlyle: French Revolution, vol. iii. book v. 4.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894