Hetaerae: Succulent Garden

No occupation is as polarising or divisive as prostitution. Whether one is talking about street level or high end prostitution, most hold the oldest profession with scorn and contempt.  At best many prostitutes are viewed with pity and worst as human filth worthy of being throw on the scrap heap of man. Certainly not a position that would be promoted as a wise career for any girl/woman.

So to picture a time when high class sex workers were revered by popular society is hard to imagine. But it in Ancient Greece this was the case for a select group of women. A hetaira (Hetaerae is plural) was a courtesan who was not your average street hooker. They were one of the few women at the time to be educated, sophisticated; often specialising in dance or music. Most Hetaerae were former slaves from neighbouring and never an Athenian citizen. An Athenian woman’s sole purpose was to a desirable wife; no education necessary nor any interaction with men. Effectively the females of Athens were kept as virtual prisoners until a suitable husband is found. While a Hetaira could never marry an Athenian man or become a citizen, they did however have more independence than their Atheinian counterparts.

Since women during Ancient Greece did not have the same access to education and options as their male counterparts. It becomes easier to empathise why some women would find the lifestyle of a Hetaira attractive. Though Hetaerae did have their own restrictions, they were allowed to cultivate their own intellet and talents. Being permitted to be seen as more than just a bearer of children, slave to the men in her life or a featureless being.

hetaera franciszek Zmurko


One comment

  1. Interesting — one choice or another and the two shall not meet…

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