Prostitution in Ancient Greece: a source of state revenue and a sign of Democracy


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Athens is the largest city and port of ancient Greece, where many merchants and sailors arrived. They needed something to occupy themselves in their free time, to have fun, so it is not surprising that in 800-500 BC. Before our era in Athens prostitution rapidly developed. There were a lot of brothels of different levels of service, and love for money turned into an industry. 

The flourishing of prostitution strengthened the city's economy. Heard about priestesses of love merchants and sailors traveled to Athens from all corners of the world. They spent money, which positively affected the development of Athens and the formation of the city as a world Cosmopolitan center.

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Status of prostitutes and their life in ancient Greece

Men in Ancient Greece seldom married before 30 years. Therefore, young people often resorted to the services of prostitutes to become more experienced in sex by the time of marriage.

Men sometimes took the priestesses of love to his house as a mistress-concubine. In some cases the lady lived in the house for so long that she became practically a wife and got all the rights of a lawful wife. However, the children born in such marriage were not considered to be citizens of the state.

The married men also did not neglect prostitutes. They resorted to the services of Hetaeras, and forced the slave to sexual relations. Wives in such cases relied in silence to tolerate the cheating husband. There is evidence that at least one lady could not stand such a life and tried to file for divorce, but her attempt was not successful.

The priestesses of love, unlike ordinary Greeks, had the right to manage money independently. Many of them were quite wealthy and opened their own public houses.

But not everyone was so rosy in the lives of prostitutes. Many of them gave birth to children who had no right to be citizens of Athens, in fact-had no future. This has had terrible consequences. If the lady born a girl, she was destined a hard part-to go in the footsteps of her mother. If the born boy, in most cases, the mother just killed him.

On the money received from the sale of their own body prostitutes often bought slaves and trained them tricks their profession, so they cared about their future. The Age priestess of love few people needed, so the means of livelihood earned by her slaves and daughters who had no other way out.


Types of prostitutes in ancient Greece

It is known at least about three types of ladies, Cossacks their body for money. Let's find out how they differed.

Pornai-Lowest level

Pornai are the most accessible priestesses of love. They were the property of pimps who were receiving part of their income. At first, slaves of barbaric origin were included in this category. Later Pornai joined and Greek, abandoned as a child by their fathers: in fact they were considered slaves.

Affordable Pornai worked in the red light district: In the port of Piraeus and the ceramics district, where there were many merchants and sailors, seekers comforts at low prices.

Statesman Solon first proposed to establish official brothels, where everyone could buy love and benefit the state-the services of prostitutes taxed taxes. Scientists suggest that the temple of Aphrodite Pandemos was built exactly on the taxes received from the work of prostitutes. It is not surprising that the inhabitants of Athens viewed prostitution as part of democracy.

Independent free prostitutes

These priestesses of love stood a step above the Pornai on the social ladder. They did not live in brothels, they were not considered slaves. The free ladies openly demonstrated their charms to potential customers, wore sandals that left footprints with the words "Follow me," and applied excessively bright makeup to make it easier for men to distinguish them from ordinary women.

This category of prostitutes was widowed women who did not have the means to exist, and foreigners who could not find work in Athens. Also, they could join and Pornai, who managed to earn enough money to buy themselves freedom.

This kind of prostitution was also legitimized: free priestesses of love were obliged to register and pay taxes from their income.

In some cases, girls who played musical instruments, sang and danced on holidays were treated as independent prostitutes. Often the cost of their services included and the cost of the night with them.

Hetaeras-Privileged priestesses of love

Hetaeras were at the highest level of the hierarchy of priestesses of love, they resembled Japanese geisha. They are difficult to call prostitutes in the truest sense of the word: The clients did not lead with them short-term relations or communication for one night.

Hetaera was a companion of a wealthy man who accompanied him at the feasts and other events, and also provided sexual services to his client.

Hetaera was educated, able to support secular conversation at official events. They paid such ladies not for each meeting, but for a certain period of time. The work of Hetaeras was highly valued, they were financially independent and conducted their own affairs independently.

Men's prostitution

In Ancient Greece, men sold their bodies not less readily than ladies. Some of them were oriented to the female clientele: in the works of Aristophanes there is a mention of an elderly lady, Spuskavshej funds for a young gigolo.

Not disdain priests of love and male clients, because in Greece homosexuality was not considered as something shameful. But if female prostitutes were in demand at almost any age, only boys were valued among men until they had a grew beard, as in adults.

Brothels with young prostitutes were located not only in the red light district, but also throughout the territory of Athens. Young Gigolos paid taxes on their activities, so the townspeople did not decry male prostitution and visiting such institutions.

The most famous priestesses of love

Perhaps the most famous hetaera of ancient Greece-Tais, which became the heroine of the novel by Efremov "Tais Athenian". She accompanied Alexander the Great in many military campaigns, and then became the wife of the Egyptian king Ptolemy.

Known Tais not only for its very frank profession, but also a cool temper. Many historians believe that she became the culprit of burning the palace of Xerxes in Persepole.

When Alexander took the city, Tais uttered a fiery speech at the palace and threw a torch into it, after which the building was burnt. This became her revenge for the previously burnt Kserksom of the Athenian Acropolis.

Frina-Hetaera with a delightful figure. Was model sculptor Praxiteles during the creation of the statue of the nude of Aphrodite. The rejected admirer appealed to the court and accused Frinu of God: Hetaera posing for the statue of the goddess.

But on trial Frina dropped clothes and amazed judges with the beauty, and on representations of ancient Greeks the beautiful body could not contain in itself godless soul. Frinu acquitted.

The ancient authors claim that Hetaera possessed a very modest temper: she dressed in dense long clothes, covered hair and wrists, even did not visit public baths.

Insects had no well-established pricing for the services: if she did not like the person, she called fabulous price. At the same time, there are sources claiming that Diogenes liked her so much that she entertained him free of charge.

How to treat prostitution

It is interesting that in Sparta for a long time there were no priestesses of love, and prostitution poricalas as a negative phenomenon. Historians associate this with the fact that the Spartans simply did not have precious metals for such entertainment: local money was made from cheap alloys and was not valued by pimps and prostitutes.

However, already about the fourth century BC Sparta became richer, it began to use money from precious metals, and in its territory opened public houses.

On the one hand, the inhabitants of Athens calmly treated the existence of brothels and did not decry the activities of prostitutes and their clients. On the other hand, it cannot be argued that prostitutes were considered to be full members of society.

Scientists cite such an example: oral caress officially considered the Greeks rather humiliating occupation, so even the gigolo did not provide such services, and only ladies-prostitutes fell before.

In addition, the sale of the body for money deprived of civil rights. Thus, there are cases when even the men who became quite decent and wealthy citizens had no rights, as in youth there were gigolos. The ancient authors explained it simply: if a person sold his body to other people for comforts, he would not hesitate to sell the interests of society.


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