Greek Prostitutes in the Ancient Mediterranean, 800 BCE–200 CE
Publication Year: 2011
Greek Prostitutes in the Ancient Mediterranean, 800 BCE–200 CE challenges the often-romanticized view of the prostitute as an urbane and liberated courtesan by examining the social and economic realities of the sex industry in Greco-Roman culture. Departing from the conventional focus on elite society, these essays consider the Greek prostitute as displaced foreigner, slave, and member of an urban underclass.
The contributors draw on a wide range of material and textual evidence to discuss portrayals of prostitutes on painted vases and in the literary tradition, their roles at symposia (Greek drinking parties), and their place in the everyday life of the polis. Reassessing many assumptions about the people who provided and purchased sexual services, this volume yields a new look at gender, sexuality, urbanism, and economy in the ancient Mediterranean world.
Published by: University of Wisconsin Press
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This project began over breakfast at the 2005 APA/AIA meetings in Boston. The first step was a panel at the AIA in San Diego in 2007. We wish to thank Laura K. McClure for suggesting at the end of that session that we consider publishing the papers as a collection. The volume is not simply a publication of those papers, however, but a continuation and an expansion of the explorations on the brothel ...
Abbreviations and Transliterations
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Introduction: Why Prostitutes? Why Greek? Why Now?
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Our topic is part of a larger scholarly trend. In the last two decades research into prostitution has become mainstream, rescued “from the literature of deviancy and crime” (Gilfoyle 1999).1 Scholars now recognize that the study of prostitution richly enhances our understanding of political, economic, and cultural history.More specifically, studies on prostitution cut to the core of societal ...
1. The Traffic in Women: From Homer to Hipponax, from War to Commerce
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Much of the scholarship on women and the female in Homer has examined elite women and goddesses. But if we gaze with a steady eye, we see lowly women everywhere. These women are the precursors of sexually disposable females in lyric poetry, most obvious and evident as slave prostitutes, necessary for patriarchal state formation and state maintenance. These are women who are ...
2. Porneion: Prostitution in Athenian Civic Space
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Social histories of prostitution in ancient Greece have often assumed that what applies to prostitution in Rome applies to Greece—that, for example, we should expect Greek attitudes toward prostitution to be similar to those of the Romans or that prostitution will have taken place in the same venues in Greece as in Rome. But this is not necessarily the case. We should be particularly careful ...
3. Bringing the Outside In: The Andrön as Brothel and the Symposium’s Civic Sexuality
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According to the view currently prevalent in scholarship, the symposium was an elitist institution at odds with the egalitarian community of the polis. It was an elite “anti-city.”1 Boundaries of gender, sexuality, and space are central to discussion of how the symposium situated itself in society. Occurring behind the closed doors of the oikos, as Ian Morris puts it, and further set apart in its own exclusive ...
4. Woman Wine = Prostitute in Classical Athens?
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The image in figure 4.1 depicts two women; one holds a drinking cup to her chest while holding out another to her companion who plays the aulos. They recline against cushions and are naked apart from jewelry and headwear. To someone unfamiliar with the scholarship surrounding Attic red-figure pottery, the scene represents nothing more than two women enjoying wine, music, and each ...
5. Embodying Sympotic Pleasure: A Visual Pun on the Body of an Aul
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In the tondo of a late sixth-century BCE red-figure cup attributed to Oltos, now unfortunately lost, a naked woman, depicted frontally, straddles an overturned pointed amphora, its toe disappearing into her body (see fig. 5.1).1 John Beazley describes the image as a “naked flute-girl raping a pointed amphora” (ARV2 66), and subsequent scholars have viewed it as a masturbation scene and ...
6. Sex for Sale? Interpreting Erotica in the Havana Collection
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This essay is located at the crossroads of some very thorny paths—debates about the status of women in ancient Greece, male homoeroticism, and the status of vase painting as evidence. Earlier research on women in antiquity was often framed as the question of the “status of women” and has only recently been redefined as the study of sex and gender (Katz 1992, 71). From the eighteenth century ...
7. The Brothels at Delos: The Evidence for Prostitution in the Maritime World
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Few suggestions about the identification of functional space in the remains of ancient “domestic quarters” have generated as much controversy as Nicholas Rauh’s hypothesis that the House of the Lake in the harbor district of Delos was a tabernaria deversoria, a tavern-inn that incorporated prostitution as a component commercial enterprise.1 The argument is based on some eccentricities ...
8. Ballio’s Brothel, Phoenicium’s Letter, and the Literary Education of Greco-Roman Prostitutes: The Evidence of Plautus’s Pseudolus
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My essay initially adopts a philological approach to the topic of ancient Greek prostitution by focusing on the language associated with sex work at an ancient commercial establishment in Hellenistic Athens. It also views Hellenistic Greek prostitution through a later, fictionalizing Roman lens by analyzing the language employed by both the labor and management of Ballio’s imaginary ...
9. Prostitutes, Pimps, and Political Conspiracies during the Late Roman Republic
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A recurring pattern of subversive behavior by courtesans, pimps, and prostitutes, including participation in political conspiracies and underclass violence, is visible in literature of the late Roman Republic (133–27 BCE). Since many of these sex professionals were of eastern Mediterranean origin and reflected trends in the wider Hellenistic world (Herter 1960, 71; Kleberg 1957, 77), the topic falls ...
10. The Terminology of Prostitution in the Ancient Greek World
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Words have power and they can hurt. This conclusion jumps out of the pages of Leora Tanenbaum’s study of the sexual reputation of young women in the United States (1999, xvi). The words we use are very telling of what we believe. They reveal our value system, what we consider acceptable and appropriate and what we do not; they reveal our intent and attitudes, whether we ...
Conclusion: Greek Brothels and More
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This book, which traces its origins to a panel organized at the annual meetings of the Archaeological Institute of America, presents a number of new developments welcome not only to students of ancient Greek women, sexuality, and material culture but also to those who investigate these phenomena as they are manifested at other times and places.1 Its salient issues are: What can we know of ...
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Page Count: 324
Publication Year: 2011