restricted access 2. Basic Economics
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ing” rather than of a top-down, of‹cially imposed “moral geography.” Where prostitution is absent in the Roman cityscape this is better explained as manifesting the impact of private concerns over honor, where sheer economic calculation is not in play. The three appendices contain a wealth of source material, both primary and secondary, on brothels, cribs, and prostitutes in Pompeii. The hope is that this evidence might be of use in pursuing a longer-term project of archaeological investigation and publication. I anticipate that at some point in the future a more satisfactory “‹t” between social history and archaeology may be possible than is true at this time of writing. No one book can do justice to as broad and complex a subject as Roman prostitution. Each type of evidence presents its own challenge, and to an extent merits discrete study. Just as my earlier book concentrated on legal sources, this one focuses mainly on material evidence. These divisions are far from airtight of course, and the best approach is to use each to illuminate the other, invoking the aid of the literary evidence where necessary. The literary evidence calls for study in its own right nevertheless, and it is my hope to devote a separate monograph more especially to this subject. This project will look back on and will integrate the results of my ‹rst two books.24 Urban Renewal 13 24. McGinn, Roman Prostitution (forthcoming). N Chapter Two M BASIC ECONOMICS the enterprise of venal sex This chapter is intended to provide an overview of the economic reality of prostitution at Rome to the extent that the sources permit. The challenges presented by the ancient evidence are especially formidable here. Collecting data, evaluating their reliability, and formulating adequate conclusions about the practice of Roman prostitution are not simple or straightforward tasks. It is small comfort that modern researchers studying contemporary prostitution are faced with similar dif‹culties, encouraging them to abandon an econometric approach in favor of traditional social science methodology.1 Our own dif‹culties with evidence prompt an assiduous cultivation of the methods of economic anthropology.2 To take one example, I know of no study, whether economic or sociological in focus, that attempts to determine a price structure for modern prostitution by establishing a system of prices in relation to services offered and the age, appearance, sexual and nonsexual talents, and so forth of prostitutes and then comparing this data with the cost-of-living standards of prostitutes and rates of pay from other available forms of employment. The absence of such studies has forced students of prostitution to rely on highly circumstantial and incomplete data for comparative purposes. Given the limits of this study, such 14 1. See Reynolds, Economics of Prostitution (1986) 8. 2. See Greene, Archaeology (1986), 9; Horden and Purcell, Corrupting Sea (2000) 365. data must suf‹ce, but there is no question about the bene‹t that a detailed analysis of the price structure of modern venal sex would bring.3 Despite these limitations, no real choice exists. We must rely on comparative data in this ‹eld, which can, at minimum, provide a sense of the plausible. This chapter begins by examining in detail the phenomena of the broad diffusion of brothels, of the close connection between prostitution and other forms of popular entertainment, and of prostitution’s association with lowerclass lodging. Next, the evidence for upper-class investment in prostitution is introduced. The question of ownership leads in turn to a discussion of brothel management , the prices charged for sexual services and the economic implications of these prices, and the acquisition of slave prostitutes. Finally, this chapter reviews the possible motivations free women had for entering the profession. The economic motivations and expectations of masters prostituting their slaves are also taken into account. This survey does not pretend to being complete , but aims to describe those features that allow an understanding of the economic importance of the institution, as a foundation for the understanding of the place of prostitution and especially brothels both in the context of the Roman city and in Roman society as a whole. the milieu of prostitution Inns and Such The broad de‹nition of brothel adopted in chapter 1 allows us to grasp the signi‹cance of the practice of prostitution in a variety of settings. Several of the Pompeian brothels, for example, were connected with the operation of cauponae, that is, inns and taverns.4 More important perhaps is the reverse relationship...


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