previous next

“Companions” and Freedom of Speech with Men

The cultivated ability of “companions” to converse with men in public was as distinctive as their erotic skills. Like the geisha of Japan, “companions” entertained men especially with their witty, bantering conversation. Indeed, “companions,” with their characteristic skill at clever taunts and verbal snubs, enjoyed a freedom of speech in conversing with men that was denied proper women. Only very rich citizen women of advanced years, such as Elpinike the sister of Cimon,1 could occasionally enjoy a similar freedom of expression. She, for example, once publicly rebuked Pericles for having boasted about the Athenian conquest of Samos after its rebellion.2 When other Athenian women were praising Pericles for his success, Elpinike sarcastically remarked, “This really is wonderful, Pericles, ... that you have caused the loss of many good citizens, not in battle against Phoenicians or Persians, like my brother Cimon, but in suppressing an allied city of fellow Greeks.”

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: