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ANAHITA  October 1998

ANAHITA October 1998

Subject:

Abstract Resend(fwd)

From:

Gail Higginbottom <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Women and Gender in the Ancient World <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 27 Oct 1998 22:06:19 +1030

Content-Type:

TEXT/PLAIN

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

TEXT/PLAIN (85 lines)

Apparently the text file that I sent as an attachment has caused some
problems. I am  now sending it as an internal part of this email.

Thankyou to those who let me know. It seems to work for the Unix
accounts on campus. Please see below for abstract.

Gail Higginbottom, Discipline of Classics,
Centre for European Studies,
University of Adelaide,
Adelaide, South Australia,
Australia. 5005.
and
Department of Physics and Mathematical Physics

[log in to unmask]
(08) 8303:5996 (messages)

Pious and impious prostitutes of ancient Greece
Matthew Dillon, School of Classics and History, University of New England,
Armidale, Australia
[log in to unmask]


Women in general appear to have been marginalised in many ancient Greek
societies, but even amongst women there are obvious marginalised groups:
the poor but free women, slaves, and foreign women, and prostitutes, poor
and wealthy, free and slave. What role, if any, did prostitutes have in
Greek religion? While Aristophanes in the Lysistrata has the choros of
citizen women sing of their various religious duties when they were girls
and then adolescents, and Euripides' in the Melanippe Desmotis has the
women choros proclaim that their role in religion is greater than that of
men's, this gives no indication of the importance of non-citizen women in
Greek religion. This paper is an attempt to ascertain what sort of
religious life did prostitutes lead, and were they important or were their
religious activities completely marginal to the existence of the
city-state?

Prostitutes clearly participated in the religious life of the polis to some
extent. Prostitutes became initiated into the Eleusinian Mysteries, and
several of them made expensive dedications at Greek sanctuaries. The
prostitutes from Athens who accompanied Perikles during the siege of Samos
dedicated the statue called 'Aphrodite in Samos', when they had earned
enough money from their labours.

Several 'pious' prostitutes are known, and impious prostitues seem to have
been no more common than other impious women, such as priestesses. Phryne
was the most celebrated case of an impious prostitute, being accused at
Athens in the fourth century of introducing a new god and assembling
illegal thiasoi of men and women. She was acquitted, being defended by
Hypereides, who brought her out where all the jurors could see her, tore
off her garments so that her breasts were exposed, and  broke out into
lamentations at the sight (i.e. of the breasts that were to be deprived of
life). The jurors became superstitious of Phryne, the 'expounder and
attendant' of Aphrodite, and acquitted her. That Aphrodite's wrath might
fall on them for executing such of her handiwork as Phryne is clear. The
most famous prostitutes were the sacred prostitutes of Corinth, called upon
by the city to pray to Aphrodite in times of crisis, such as during the
Persian invasion of 480-79. Aspasia was accused of impiety, and it is often
suggested that the charge was that she had entered Athenian temples, and
that this was forbidden to prostitutes. But the evidence for such a
prohibition is ambivalent to say the least ([Dem.] Against Neaira 85-6,
113-14; Isaeus 6.49-50).

It is clear that the most important religious roles were reserved for the
citizen women of the state. Prostitutes, like all other women, had
religious concerns, but Aphrodite was their goddess par excellence. They
were denied some religious roles in ancient Greece, not because they were
prostitutes but because they were non-citizens. Along with slaves and
metics they could participate in sacrifices and prayers, but they could not
participate in the rites restricted to the sovereign citizens.

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Diotima's address: http://www.uky.edu/ArtsSciences/Classics/gender.html

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