The Sociology of Prostitution in Antiquity in the Context of Pagan and Christian Writings

Hans Herter and Linwood DeLong

in Sex and Difference in Ancient Greece and Rome

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2003 | ISBN: 9780748613199
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651016 | DOI:
The Sociology of Prostitution in Antiquity in the Context of Pagan and Christian Writings

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This chapter examines the attitude of Christianity toward prostitution compared with the way that prostitution was regarded in secular antiquity. Prostitutes belonged chiefly, if not exclusively, to urban centers, but they often came from outside the cities and moved to other places of residence. Naturally, prostitutes were primarily attracted to large centres of population and activity, and in Greece the primary centres were Athens and Corinth. The actual whorehouses generally belonged to pimps, sometimes madams, who are also mentioned in Christian writings and in legal codes. The Christian women, professed widows and virgins, who lived with men often acquired the reputation of being prostitutes. The chapter discusses the sociology of prostitution in antiquity in the context of pagan and Christian writings, looking at the careers and origins of prostitutes as well as their economic situation, physical appearance, brothels and places of activity, artes meretriciae (tricks of the prostitute) and legal status. It also considers the measures introduced by the Christian Church to protect those who had been forced into prostitution.

Keywords: Christianity; prostitution; prostitutes; sociology; Greece; Christian Church; brothels; artes meretriciae; whorehouses; pimps

Chapter.  32321 words. 

Subjects: Classical History

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