Hetaera in Ancient Greek Art
Hetaera in Ancient Greek Art
A hetaera or hetaira (Plural hetaerae or hetairai) was a woman in a special class in ancient Greece who served as a companion to men of the wealthy class. These women had special training and were freer than the men’s wives who were carefully secluded in the homes. They were very influential and served as social arrangers, advisors, entertainers, and even as courtesans. The word ‘hetaera’ means ‘companion’ from the Indo-European language ‘swe-t-aro’ from ‘se-‘, ‘one’s own’ and ‘ario-?’, ‘host’. Neither Hesiod nor Homer seem to use this word.
But in the Iliad Homer describes two women who have a similar role, Briseis and Chryseis. Both these young women were war prizes won by Achilles. Briseis stayed with Achilles while Chryseis was given over to Agamemnon. These women were literally prizes of war who seem little better that sex slaves. Tecmessa was a prize won by Telamonian Ajax. Hecamede was Nestor’s Concubine. She stayed with Ajax in the war camp and bore Ajax a child. Hecamede was Nestor’s Concubine. Cassandra was later assigned to Agamemnon as a war prize. Andromache fared a little better when she was assigned as a war prize to Neoptolemus. He took her but married Hermione. After Neoptolemus was killed Andromache was able to become married and so rose out of slavery. During the Trojan war there is little question that women were forced to stay as companions with soldiers. In this sense they seem a prelude to the hetaera. Of these women Cassandra was most like a hetaera because in addition to being a great beauty she was also a priestess and a prophetess. Because she was a priestess of Apollo there can be little doubt that she was as well educated as any women of the time could be. It seems likely that Agamemnon actually valued her for this reason.
In contradiction to the miserable conditition of mortal women, especially the female slaves in the army of Agamemnon, the relation of the female deities must be considered. In the Iliad Achilles says to Athena, “Lady,…, when you two goddesses command, a man must obey, however angry he may be. Better for him if he does. The man who listens to the gods is listened to by them. No matter what a man may think of mortal women then had to be in the back of his mind that there were women goddesses and that the mortal women my have a more direct path of access to these goddesses simply because they were women. This fact was realized by the fact that women goddesses had women priestesses.
A hetaera plays the lyre at an evening entertainment (a symposium)
For a hetaera typically life began as a young slave girl. Some were captured in battle and some girls were sold into slavery by impoverished parents. The slave girls that were chosen to become hetaerae were particularly beautiful and talented. Prospective hetaerae were often too expensive for one person to afford so an investment group of three or more investors would buy them. They would then be sent to a hetaerae training school where they would be trained. They would be taught to play a musical instrument, dance, and speak publicly. They would also be taught about philosopy and politics so they could converse intelligently with almost any man. Even before they were done with training they could be hired out as an entertainer or prostitute. Usually an arrangement was made so that if they made a good return for the investors they would be given their freedom. It was at the point of freedom that they became hetaerae.
At the symposia, which were evening entertainments for men, several levels of this process could be in evidence. Young girls with no training might serve food and clean up. Flute
girls and dancers might be hetaerae in training. They may have to get sexually involved if they attracted the attentions of a male guest. The girls might also perform sex acts as entertainment. But the hetaerae might be providing sexual favors for the guests but they might also be engaged in higher forms of entertainment and social discourse. The slave girls and the prostitutes would be nude. The musicians and dancers might be dressed in skimpy and see-through outfits. But the hetaerae were the best dressed women in the society. They wore lots of expensive jewelry and the latest fashions.
It is easy to form a negative opininion of the hetaerae because their profession was obviously related to what is now termed prostitution. Yet in their day there were few options for employment of women. There is little doubt that in their careers thy were involved with what is referred to as prostitution. Yet when they had gotten their freedom they were careful not to charge any fee. Rather they depended upon their friends for gifts which were given perhaps for their favors. It is also easy to refer to a school for hetaerae as a bordello, yet in their day any attempt to school women outside the home would have been considered an immoral practice. There is a lot of art that displays hetaerae involved in gross sexual practice. But it would be wrong to attibute these images to the moral impropriety of these women. Rather the sexual fantasies of the men are appeased and the morality of the women must be tempered by the fact that they had few options for better employment. What is different about the hetaerae is that they did participate in the intellectual life of the ancient Greek community and there is much testimony to this effect within the materials about the hetaera Aspasia.
A serious question is whether the Diotima of Mantineia mentioned by Plato and referenced at length by Socrates is, in fact, a hetaera. In the Symposium no mention of sex is made. In the Symposium Socrates says of her, “a woman wise in this(love) and in many other kinds of knowledge, who in the days of old, when the Athenians offered sacrifice before the coming of the plague, delayed the disease ten years. She was my instructress in the art of love”. Of couse the ancient Greeks distinguished two Aphrodites, Ourania (heavenly) and Pandemos (of the people). But is it possible that Socrates is isolating the one from the other. And is there not every indiction that a hetaera was a master(mistress) of them both. Maybe she was a priestess of Aphrodite. But then how is it possible to distinguish a priestess of Aphrodite from a hetaera?
Louvre G 2
Berlin F 2269
- Louvre G 2
St. Petersburg 644 (St. 1670),central
St. Petersburg 644 (St. 1670),left
St. Petersburg 644 (St. 1670),right
St. Petersburg 644 (St. 1670),other
- two pairs of male figures with hetairai
- first and second groups of men and courtesans,
- third group of men and courtesans
- Man pursuing hetaera
- Man and hetaera
- Man and heatera
Two famous hetaerae were Aspasia and Phryne. Aspasia was the consort
of Pericles, the head of Greek government during the golden age. Phryne
was the model for the Cnidian Aphrodite sculpted by Praxiteles. Click on
one of the following to gain more information about these famous women:
Pictures of Phryne:
- Archeanassa companion of Plato
- Aspasia, mistress of Pericles
- Lais the older.
- Lais (?the younger), mistress of Demosthenes and Diogenes the Cynic
- Lamia, a famous early Hellenistic courtesan and favourite of Demetrius I .
- Lyca, mentioned by Amphis
- Nannio, mentioned by Amphasis
- Neaera(Neaira), befriended by Demonsthenes, mistress of Stephanus
- Phryne, mistress of Praxiteles
- Sinope, mentioned by Amphis
- Thais(Thaïs), the lover and possibly a wife of Ptolemy I Soter, King of Egypt
- Theodote, friend of Scocrates and mistress of Alcibiades
- Nyantee Asherman, The Hetaera: The Female Exception
- A reference page on hetaera is at: Click Here
- THE REPRESENTATION OF PROSTITUTES VERSUS RESPECTABLE WOMEN ON ANCIENT GREEK VASES”
To ask a question about this topic note the topic (Hetaerae) and
Questions and Answers
Answer: Hera was goddess of women and marriage and hetaera did not marry
while they followed their profession. Aphrodite Pandemos was their goddess.
Question: did the men have sex with more than one hetaera
Answer: Men need have no loyalty to one hetaera, and their visits to
a hetaera were not counted as being disloyal to their wife. Adultery, a serious
crime, involved visits to another man’s wife, a widowed mother, or an unmarried
Question: a pic of Cassandra
Answer: Cassandra was not a hetaera. She was a princess and a prophetess.
There is a picture of Cassandra at:
Question: description of role and comparison to geisha
Answer: There are definitely similarities. But there are differences as
well. Aspasia rose to be confidant of the head of state. I know of no
geisha in such a position. Hetaerae were trained in rhetoric. Perhaps this
meant that they were expected to carry on an intelligent conversation. Greek
women generally accomplished much more that their Japanese counterparts and
this can be attributed to their education. For most women in Greece education
was fairly informal. But there were special schools for Hetaerae. And because of the nature of culture and conversation in ancient Greece there were many other opportunities for education.
Question: What were the rules about divorce and inheritance as far as woman were concered?
Answer: In classical Greece women did not get anything. Women were more property to be bought, sold, and inherited. Men could not divorce either, but when a women was widowed, she and her property were assigned to a man, often a relative. If she was associated with a lot of property, they she would become the man’s wife and she might even displace the wife he might have had.
Question: examples of famous women in ancient greek entertainment
- fl. 600 BCE/Meglostrata/Composer and Poet
- 6th cent. BCE./Nanno/Flautist
- fl. 450 BCE/Praxilla/Lyric poetic and composer
- 4th cent. BCE. Lamia/Flautist
Question: How were they paid?
Answer: A hetaera went to a great deal of trouble to avoid any explicit
relationships she had with men, so it is difficult to talk about a hetaera
being paid. There is always more status in receiving gifts than being paid
for a commodity. But the ancient Greeks had coins for money which they could
use to buy a slave, or time with a prostitute. You could not buy a
hetaera, but you might win her favor with the right gift.
Question: why were men so critical of women?
Answer: Men want women to behave in a certain way because it sexually exites
them, or satisfies them, or meets their moral standards. But women do not
want to behave that way because it is uncomfortable, degrading, or simply
unknown. So men criticize women so the women will behave better. But you
can accomplish a lot more by compliments than you can by criticism. Men should
try to be more complimentary and less critical. In ancient Greece the role of woman as mother was much more important than it is today. Then, as now, it was little merit to criticize women about being a mother because it was a subject they studied and experienced, and not the men. One problem is that if a woman is mistreated by a man she may take her frustrations out on her male children and the result is a child who grows to a man who mistreats women.
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Question: what degree of freedom to travel among the populace?
Answer: Travel was a risky proposition. Travel on land was slow and
dangerous because of robbers. Travel on the sea was safer but not without
risk. The Athenian navy went after pirates and protected shipping lanes
within the Greek archipelago, but could do little about the rest of the
Mediteranean. Yet, there was a lot of shipping. You could probably be a
passenger on a ship if you were rich enough. The people who got to travel
owned their own ships usually. In those days your family provided a lot of
protection, so if you traveled, you might be on your own. You were actually free to travel, but it was not safe. The mythical Io traveled quite a bit. Helen went to Troy and Egypt from Sparta. The Danaides traveled from Egypt to Greece.
Many traveled within Greece though. Many people moved from the coast of
Turkey to mainland Greece. There were also merchants with established routes
of trade. But if you traveled there was no uniformity of goverment to protect
you. Gold coins helped, but would certainly weigh you down. Many governments
would tax you just for crossing their border. Others might deny you. Still
others might just enslave you. Fortunately, the Greek religion expected
strangers to be treated well, and in many cases they were.
The mythical Io traveled quite a bit. Helen went to Troy and Egypt from Sparta. The Danaides traveled from Egypt to Greece.
Question: role of hetaera in ancient greece
Answer: Hetaera were an important part of the social life of ancient
Greece. They provided conversation, entertainment, and a goal of sexual
achievement. They were the subject of gossip, conversation, and attention
that kept social life very lively.
Question: Can you send me pictures of a hetaera?
Answer: To see pictures click on the links above.
Question: what was the entertainment like?
Answer: Your hetaera might have a debate or a discussion on philosophy,
politics or other intellectual pursuit. This was common at the symposium.
Or the hetaera could sing or dance. Some played musical instruments. This
included the flute or the lyre. Some tumbling was done. Some hetaera would
perform sex acts as part of the entertainment.
Question: It seems better to be a hetaera than a wife. They have freedom
and education. It seems wives had no real relationship with their husbands
and couldn’t even speak to them intellectually. Were there any drawbacks to
being a hetaera?
Answer: Some women were better off as a hetaera, but most wives were better
off. Most men need to keep their wives happy and so wives get what they want.
Most wives did have a relation with their husbands. They even could talk to
them intellectually. The husbands were responsible for the education of their
wives and some definitely provided intellectual content. The Greek women were
some of the best educated women ever in spite of the fact that they did not
go to school.
The hetaera did have more freedom and they did go to school, but they did
not have the protection of their families. The men of the community could force
themselves upon the hetaera and the hetaera had little recourse. Just as
prostitutes need a pimp, hetaera needed strong friends to provide their
security. It seems that they often got the protection they needed, but not
Question: Damaris – a convert of Paul at Mar’s Hill, any information?
Answer: Damaris is referenced in the Bible at Acts: 17,34.
There is a reference at:
“Women in Ministry”
Part 12 – ACTS of the APOSTLES Ch 15-18, Paul’s Second Missionary Journey
Question: where can I find information on Thais
Answer: The French author Anatole France wrote the novel Thais in
1890. This novel is about Alexandria, Egypt in the first century. A fanatical
monk converts a courtesan to Christianity, only to fall from purity into sin.
Question: How old where the Hetaerae
Answer: Any age.
Question: were hetaeras ever male (or male/female)?
Answer: Never. Ancient Greeks were very unhappy with male prostitution.
Question: what happens when a hetaera has a child?
Answer: She would either raise it herself, expose it, or sell it into
Question: What was entertainment like in ancient greece
Answer: The favorite entertainment was the symposium. Each man would lounge
in a couch at the edge of the room where they would converse with the men
around them. Servants, perhaps naked, would serve them party food and
delicacies. In the center of the room would be entertainers. These could
include a speaker of either sex, dancers, musicians, jugglers, a bard,
acrobats, or hetaerae. The hetaerae could be doing any of the previous or
just looking pretty, or having sex for entertainment. They could be dressed
Question: I am studying the social role and status of hetaira for my
dissatation, can you suggest any interesting areas which may be worth
Answer: You definitely need to focus on the education of the hetaera.
Apparently rhetoric was one of the subjects studied. Is is possible
that men would expect them to undertake an intelligent discussion on philosophy
or politics? Would they pursue this entertainment at a symposium?
Question: what kind of saves worked in the house
Answer: Usually house slaves were women slaves who could be commanded and
trusted by the wife of the head of the house.
Question: is bestiality prevalant in ancient greece
Answer: By bestiality I assume you mean sexual relations with lower animals.
Agricultural cultures involve more bestiality than manufacturing cultures. But
even though the mythology involves bestiality, there is no indication that
it was excessive in the society. Just as women having sex with animals is an
entertainment for men now, it was, no doubt, an entertainment then. But there
is also the problem of monster births. Numerous animal and human babies are
born which are monsterous in appearance or construction. Usually these babies
are born dead, but the evidence is still there. Naturally the ancient people
wondered at the cause, and the practice of bestiality was a false but
Question: did woman have any men to serve to pleasure them too?
Answer: Hetaera would not admit to any business arrangements. They worked with a circle of friends who exchanged favors. When they needed a favor they could always get one.
Question: When the women choosen to be Hetaeras are taken from their homes,
where do they go and how long do they stay there?
Answer: There were many levels of hetaerae and so there were different
experiences. For the common prostitute, they went directly to a brothel and
received all their training there. Temple prostitutes were desirable female
slaves that were sent to a temple for a higher level of prostitution. Some
girls were lucky enough to be sent to school. There were schools for dancing
and music. There were even schools where a hetaera could learn conversation
and rhetoric. In the following picture the women would have required no
training for their activity and may have been hired slaves. Click here
The girl in the
following picture is probably the result of a musical school, but though she
more status than a prostitute, she still would not be immune to the sexual
advances of the men: Click here. This hetaera may have a little more
status: Click here and may have had more intensive training. But this
hetaera has achieved an equal level with the men and is, no doubt, sharing
Click here. She probably was the result of a more intensive school where
she learned the art of conversation.
Question: Where there any rape’s.?
Answer: There are two kinds of rapes: acts of passion and acts of
aggression. In myth there are many rapes, but they are all acts of passion.
This suggests that the society had the same problem. If the woman was raped
she was supposed to be honored that she was chosen by such a powerful person
and cheerfully bear the offspring. Of course this idea was not popular with
the women. Nor was it popular with the fathers and husbands of women who might be
the subjects of these attacks. The result was that the women were secluded to
prevent this type of attack. During classical Greece, when the women were
secluded, there were very few rapes of wives and daughters of citizens. Of
course a man could force his women slaves to have sex with him, but this was
not considered rape. Women slaves could also be raped by outsiders when they
left the house for chores.
If a women is raped, she can bear resentment for the child. This often
results in mistreatment of the child, as would be the case when a person is
forced to do any unwanted thing. As the child grows older he may bear
negative feelings toward women in general. When this child is a man he may
want to punish all women for the behavior of his mother. This results in the
rapes of aggression. These type of rapes were not understood by the ancients
and they commonly confounded both types of rapes.
For the ancients rapes were crimes against property, because all women were
considered to be the property of their father, husbands, or masters. If a
woman was raped it was the responsibility of the owner of the woman to pursue
the criminal. A man could legally kill the rapist of a wife or daughter. The
rapist of a slave would have to be brought to court for civil punishment.
A hetaera would have to pursue the matter herself if she was free of a master
Question: Are there any individual authors of primary Greek texts which would
shed more light on the different types of prostitutes please?
- Aristophanes’ Acharnians, Thesmophoriazusae, Wasps, Wealth
- Aeschines, Against Timarchus
- Menander’s Arbitration
- Xenarchus’ Pentathlete
Question: what did ancient greek dancers wear
Answer: Some images follow:
Question: when was Hydna born?
Answer: Here is what I found on Hydna:
“IX. Beside the Gorgias is a votive offering of the Amphictyons, representing
Scyllis of Scione, who, tradition says, dived into the very deepest parts of
every sea. He also taught his daughter Hydna to dive.  When the fleet of
Xerxes was attacked by a violent storm off Mount Pelion, father and
daughter completed its destruction by dragging away under the sea the anchors
and any other security the triremes had. In return for this deed the
Amphictyons dedicated statues of Scyllis and his daughter. ” Pausanias,
Description of Greece, 10.19.1 The destruction of the Persian navy
occurred around 480 BCE. so she would have been born about 465 BCE.
Question: What are some fun things people in ancient Greece did?
Answer: Most fun involved religious festivals where women could socialize.
These had food, music, and dancing. Weddings also were social events. Men
had symposiums where they listened to lectures, debated, and enjoyed
music, dancing, and sexy women. After the evening meal was a time when stories of heroes wer told.
Question: roles of women in ancient greece in all aspects like motherhood,
Answer: Ancient Greek women were expected to be involved in motherhood, and
they were somewhat prejudiced against if they did not.
Question: When the women have their banies do the men stay in the room and
watch them have the baby?
Answer: A man certainly had the legal right to watch the birth of any babies
in his house, but he seemed not to want to exercise this right. Usually birthing was done by the ladies of the house. The wife of the owner usually supervised.If a man was wealthy and wanted to make sure a man’s opinion prevailed then he
hired a gynecologist. This was a doctor who specialized in birthing babies.
These doctors were fairly common.
Question: what was the role of women in the development of the beauty
during ancient greek times.
Answer: The Greeks thought the Greek women were the most beautiful in the
world, and the women did much to support this idea. The artists of Greece
were able to make images of these women that have been popular almost
everywhere ever since.
Question: show me a picture of a naked man
Answer: A hetaera was a woman and not a man.
Question: how women fell sex
Answer: A woman became a hetaera if her family could not provide
for her. Often she was sold into slavery or became some man’s
mistress. If she was a slave she showed some promise of being a sex
slave. The more promising girls were lucky and were sent to
hetaera school where they learned music, dancing, and other
entertaining skills. They may even have learned rhetoric so they
could present at the symposiums. If they were successful they
could eventually buy their freedom. Less successful girls had to
turn to sex for their livelyhood. The least successful girls
became prostitutes (pornoi).
Question: what you did the wamen play in the games
Answer: Women played many different games. In the area of athletics
mostly they just ran races and raised horses for the chariot races. At the
parties they sang danced and played musical instruments. They also played
ball and board games with dice.
Question: Were the hetaera’s of ancient Greece
influencial in the role of the government?
Answer: Governmental officials seemed to be quite fond of hetaerae and
hetaerae were quite capable of conversing with the politicians about politics.
It seems very likely that the hetaerae were influential.
Question: haw many years the grees city old
Answer: A number of cities in Greece go back to the Neolithic and Copper
Age from 7000-3300 BCE.
Question: why does Rilke include Hetaera in his poetry
Answer: I do not know anything about Rilke but hetaera are very poetic.
Their training made them much like a Muse.
Answer: Phryne was the model that Praxiteles used.
Question: what is hetaerae?
Answer: Plural of hetaera.
Question: Women having sex with animals.
Answer: Women may have had sex with animals for the entertainment of men.
Question: Were Hetarae still prominent members of Greek society under Roman occupation?
Answer: I have no information on Rome
Question: Was there a goddess of dance?
Answer: The Muses were goddesses of the dance. Later the Muse Terpsichore
was associated with dance by herself.
Question: To what extent (if any) did heterosexual anal intercourse figure in
Greek life ?
Answer: For the hetaera it was probably a common experience. I doubt that
the wives had any experience with it. The advantage for the hetaera was that she would not get pregnant. The disadvantage for the wife was that she would not get pregnant.
Question: Ancient Greek Governmental Pictures
Question: What were the rights of Hetaerae in Ancient Greece?
Answer: Only the ancient Greek men had rights and they were the only ones
in the world at the time. They could do many things that other women could not
do but it was not a matter of rights.
Question: what did they do?
Answer: They were entertainers and male companions. As entertainers they
played instruments, and and danced. Some even performed sex acts. As
companions they were conversationalists. They dressed well and acted very
Question: tell me about lais
Answer: There seem to have been at least two courtesans with this name, One
at the time of the Peloponesian war, and the other Hellenistic.
The first Lais came from Corinth, a center of the cult of Aphrodite;
This Lais spent some time in Athens, where her lover Myron immortalized her
in marble, while she carried on a war of one-liners with another lover, the
playwright Euripides. Some professional courtesans, or hetaerae (singular hetaera) were highly intelligent and literate. Phryne and Lais were the most famous examples. Some philosophers thought highly of them.
“There is in Thessaly another tomb which claims to be that of Lais, for she went to that country also when she fell in love with Hippostratus.
The story is that originally she was of Hycara in Sicily. Taken captive while yet a girl by Nicias and the Athenians, she was sold and brought
to Corinth, where she surpassed in beauty the courtesans of her time, and so won the admiration of the Corinthians that even now they claim
Lais as their own.”
Pausanias, Description of Greece, 2.2.1
“From this place (Hyccara) it is said that Lais the courtesan was sold as a
prisoner of war, being still a girl, and brought into Peloponnesus.”
Plutarch, Lives (ed. Bernadotte Perrin) Nic. 15.1
The second Lais was equally skilled in the art of love, and charged
accordingly. The philosopher Aristippus, a follower of Socrates,
could only afford her for two months out of the year. She also tended the
needs of the Cynic, Diogenes. She modelled frequently for
Apelles, a noted painter of the ancient world: she was the centerpiece of
his now-lost masterwork, “Aphrodite Rising from the Sea.”
Question: how and why did women become hetaera?
Answer: Some women became hetarae because their family was poor and had no
marriage prospects for a daughter. If they had a daughter who was beautiful
and talented they could sell their daughter to a herarae school. The daughter
would then be trained to be a hetaera. The hetaera would then pay back the
school with her earnings after she graduated. Some hetaera could pay off
the school before she graduated by performing an instrument or by selling
her sex. Some masters would send a female slave to hetaerae school. In the
case of a beautiful slave she might have been very expensive so there might
be several men who share ownership. They would send the beautiful slave
to hetaerae school as an investment. She might be able to buy her freedom
at a very high price and give them a good return on their investment.
In some cases a beautiful slave was smart enough to become a hetaerae
without going to school. These women were slaves who were forced into
prostitution by their masters. They became so sucessful as prostitutes
that they were able to buy their freedom. Then they became hetaerae.
Question: were models always hetaera ?
Answer: I suspect so.
Question: Please give me the names of famous women like Nescio
Answer: I do not know of any. Nescio is a Latin word meaning ‘ignorant.’
Hetaera were intelligent Greek women.
Question: Could a man marry a hetaera if she consented?
Question: What was the role of temple prostitutes in Corinth?
Answer: Many were simply sex slaves and their role was to make money by
charging for sex. Many of the temple prostitutes came to the temple as
slaves. But there were also priestesses. If they charged for sex they
usually got a lot more money. They were never slaves, but they might be
bound to the temple. They would perform ceremonies and give advice, usually
about the realm of and access to Aphrodite. They were often called upon to
encourage fertility. The priestesses had high status in the community and could
come and go as they pleased.
Question: Were did men have sex with woman like in front of people, in a room
Answer: Sex was performed by the hetaera in many situations. Sometimes
it was entirely private in the home of the hetaera. Sometimes it was in public,
such as at a symposium for the entertainment of the men. One of the more famous hetaera attended a party at a bar and got drunk. Before she left every one of the men had sex with her. The next morning she remembered nothing. She was very unhappy when she found out what had happened because she lost her fee for all that sex. And she could not remember having any fun at all. The men had so much fun they told everyone.
Question: Did men ever force more then one hetaera to have sex with onther hetaera for entertainment?
Answer: It seems possible but less likely. Greek men did not care for
Lesbian activity. Bestiality and menage a trois were certainly done.
Question: diferent types of hetaera
Answer: I do not find different types.
Question: What were some major differences between the hetaeras and house wives in ancient Greece?
Answer: Housewives stayed home and got pregnant. Hetaeras went out with the
men to parties and tried not to get pregnant. Housewifes got what they
wanted. Hetaeras took what they could get. Housewives had to put their
clothes on to get status. Hetaeras had to take their clothes off to get
status. Wives were well-bred while hetaeras were well-trained.
Question: did a woman who was suitable for marriage ever want to become a hetaira instead?
Answer: The highest status was to be married to a wealthy man. A wife of
poor man might aspire to being a hetaera, but hetaera were beautiful and
cultured and any wives in this category would already be married well.
Beautiful and cultured women have always had an advantage.
A women would have a hard time hiding her skill as a hetaera. So wanting
to be a hetaera would be useless. But a hetaera might display her skill
as a wife and be married to good effect. There are plenty of stories of
hetaera and even slaves becoming wives. There are even stories of wives
becoming enslaved only to become someone else’s wife.
Question: how can i contact James Davidson, author of courtesans and fishcakes
Answer: Standard proceedure is to contact his publisher.
Question: what was the relationship between hetaeras and the Greek goddes Aphrodite
Answer: Odly enough, very little. While a wife might pray to Aphrodite
to help her get pregnant, a hetaera would pray to Artemis to keep her
from getting pregnant. It is not clear that a hetaera was dependent upon
Aphrodite’s girdle for her appeal. It would seem that a hetaera would pray
to Athena to give her craftiness by which she survives. Slave prostitutes
were associated with the temples of Aphrodite and not hetaerae. In Greece
the priestesses did not participate in prostitution as they did elsewhere.
Furthermore hetaera used nudity long before Aphrodite was depicted nude.
It seems as though Aphrodite became a hetaera by being shown nude and not the
other way around.
A book is not a good reference unless it >is also well documented. The books that I cited upon the site were well documented with numerous pictures. However, I cannot scan in those pictures and post them on the net, without infringing on someone else's copyright, so I simply cited the book. >Sigmund Freud said he found women who enjoyed fellatio, and there is no >doubt that they exist. But the desire for money makes a big difference >for some people. So it is safe to assume that many women pursue fellatio >simply for money. I rarely listen to Freud, but sometimes, I like to make a Freudian comment or two. Freud believed that all women had "penis envy", and I disagree. I love my cunt. I love my clit. And I wouldn't want a penis. =) I'm sure that I'm not the only women in the world that feels that way too. I have a habit of getting people to talk about their sex lives. And one of the things that I've learned over the years is that either women absolutely hate fellatio or they love it. Pregnancy has nothing to do with it. It has to do with them liking to stick things in their mouth or sucking on things. I wouldn't say that women "pursue" fellatio for money. I always see it the other way around. It's men who are trying to find women to give them fellatio, who wind up trying to buy a blow job. Every whore I've ever met says the same thing: they prefer hand jobs, hate fellatio, but if they choice was between intercourse and fellatio, they'd choose intercourse over fellatio. A lot of prostitutes charge more for fellatio than intercourse. Try asking around to different prostitutes to see what they "like" better. But "like" is one of those words yet again. To a man, or potential client, a lot of prostitutes will claim to "like" stuff just to try and make a sale or try and get a new client. In otherwords, they aren't being truthful to their clients about what they truly "like" sexually. And to my knowledge, a lot of prostitutes in the industry hate all sex, altogether (not that they tell their clients that, but they do tell other women that). For example, there was a prostitute that had an office next to mine that was a call girl who used to be married to a cop. She was in her 40s, and she would always tell me how much that she hated and despised sex from being a prostitute. She said that in her private relationships that she would avoid sex altogether because she hated it so much. But, if it came down to money, she would have sex for the money, even though she hated it. And she's been a prostitute for years and still is a prostitute. But, when it comes to that client on the phone who's giving her money, I'm quite sure that she pleasantly puts a smile on her face and pretends to enjoy it. After all, the clients are paying her for an act, an act to enjoy this sex that they are buying from her. But in reality, she hates it. It's rather sad, you know.
Question: What did the typical day of a Hetaerea consist of? Were they controlled like
slaves or did they do their own thing?
Answer: Prostitutes were always slaves and usually committed to sex.
Many hetaera started out as prostitutes. But their owners struck a deal with them. If they cooperated and made the owners lots of money they would be given their freedom. Then they could be a Hetaerae or whatever else they wanted.
Some hetaerae started as slaves but they were seen as good prospects for being hetaerae and were put into hetarae training. They paid for their education by serving as entertainers for men in a symposium. They could be dancers, musicians, conversationalists, or they could perform sex acts. When their training was done they became hetaerae.
A hetaerae was much freer than wives or daughters in a Greek family. They could shop in a market, go to the theater, or even the Olympics. There is a debate about whether women were allowed in the theater in ancient Greece. The answer is that wives and daughters were not allowed but hetaerae were. But they had no vote and could not serve in the army and so were not citizens.
The typical day of a hetaerae was at night. They probably got up at noon and bathed and dressed. Then they shopped or attended to business. A good hetaerae had many business investments. At dusk they went to a symposium. There they would entertain, converse, or give a speech. One important ritual was the exchange of favors. The well-being of the Hetaerae depended upon the favors she received. The favors that she gave could be sexual, personal or business advice, loans, etc.
Dolly in “Hello Dolly” is a good model of how a hetaera lived. The gheisha in Japan are not a very good model. Some of the courtesans among the aristocrats of Europe acted in the same way as hetaerae. Madame de Stall and Gertrude Stein acted this way. Sexual intercourse was more a part of social intercourse in ancient Greece than in our society so what we consider prostitution was a part of the activity of the hetaerae but there was also a cultured part involving music, dance, poetry, and rhetoric that is now found in the ballet, opera, and civic centers.
Question: What is the type of clothing the hetaerae wore? + jewellery
And how is it different from wives or slaves clothing?
Answer: Hetaerae probably wore fancier clothes than most other women. Like the other women they wore peplos, chitons, tunics, and robes. Fancier clothing would be silk, both domestic and imported, in purples and reds. They also wore silver and gold jewelry. The images of the goddesses made in classical Greece probably represent their attire idealized. The ideal goddess wore gossamer which was almost transparent. Real outfits were somewhat more opaque. Ideal goddesses wore gowns that rippled like watered and knitted silk. For real outfits the folds were important but not so numerous. Samples of the jewelry they wore have survived and are displayed in various museums. Reproductions of this jewely is readily available. These include necklaces, rings, bracelets, brooches, and even tiaras.
Wives wore similar clothing except it varied in cost depending what their husband could afford. Often the quality of jewelry that a woman wore was a good indication of her status.
Slaves usually wore distinctive clothing, often that reflected the nationality of their origin. But sometimes they are simply left nude. In a work of art from ancient Greece a nude which contains a nude among clothed figures can identify that figure as a slave. An exception to this is a wedding scene where the husband is dipicted nude while the wife is clothed.
Question: I wanted to know how the hetairai affected greek politics, which later
gave them rights and citizenship later one.
Answer: The topic is not one with a lot of solid references. What follows are references from older modern works which were produced before feminism and possibly with a male bias:
Click Here and Click here
The impression is that the hetarae were the primary entertainers of classical Greece. It also seems as though there were schools that prepared the girls for this task. The schools included training in singing, dancing, and rhetoric. Conversation seems to have been an important form of entainment and the hetaerae were possibly capable not only of conversing inteligently but also of presenting speeches. They seem to have cultivated conversation. It is in this regard that they influenced politics. They seem to have fostered the creative thinking that we have so benefited from the Greek culture.
Unfortunately they never really obtained significant rights or citizenship. What they did obtain was their freedom. A hetaera was a significant business opportunity. Since slaves that were beautiful and talented young girls were expensive, a number of men would go together and buy such a slave and then have them educated as a hetaera. Someone realized that the girls would work harder and perform better if they were given the opportunity to eventually have their freedom. So the investors often included this in their pact. It would seem that the girls did not become hetaera until they had their freedom. Before that they were slaves. Aristophanes refers to flute girls. These may have been hetaerae in training. In the pictures that we have of symposium these are a common image. Click Here In the following image: Click here there is a girl dancing on the right. The girls at center has a staff. Is she holding a speaking stick and presenting a speech? The one at left seems to be conversing.
Aspasia is said to have operated a school for hetaerae. This would have been a business that often held the girls as slaves. The girls would have been schooled but they were also sent out as entertainers while they were schooled. These girls were not prostitutes only because they were hired as entertainers. But they could not probably avoid sexual encounters that their patrons desired. It would seem that they never really graduated from these schools. They were either bought by wealthy patrons or they purchased their own freedom with their own success in the profession.
It is interesting to compare the hetaerae of ancient Greece with the geisha girls of Japan. There seem to be a lot of similarities. The big difference is that the hetaera seem to have been involved in rhetoric and speeches. Famous geisha girls do not seem to have political involvement: Click here. Compare this with Click Here
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