The women on the outside

Pierre Brulé and Antonia Nevill

in Women of Ancient Greece

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2003 | ISBN: 9780748616435
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651023 | DOI:
The women on the outside

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In ancient Greece, there was an entire and ill-defined population of women who were ‘free’ but had eluded the system of ‘houses’, and who, although not lucky enough to be wives, had perhaps other opportunities. But men did not speak of them. The most numerous in poetry, drama, and painting were those who, to use a Greek expression, worked with their body, made a living from venal love. There is no lack of stories, anecdotes and portraits concerning a few celebrated hetairai. Unlike wives, courtesans are not anonymous. This chapter examines language that uses three words to describe women whose social roles and positions are very close. These are hetaira, pallake (‘concubine’) and porne (‘prostitute’), all of which were used in reference to prostitution. It also looks at Aspasia, certainly the most famous courtesan in antiquity, and her ‘house’. In addition, the chapter focuses on the ‘life’ of Neaera and considers sex, the foreign woman and impurity.

Keywords: Aspasia; ancient Greece; women; house; prostitution; hetaira; pallake; porne; Neaera; sex

Chapter.  14617 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Classical History

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