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HETAERAE

HETAERAE (ἑταῖραι). The word ἑταίρα signifies originally a female companion, but in its most common use denotes any woman who lived with (συνεῖναι, πλησιάζειν, χρῆσθαι, Dem. c. Timocr. p. 762.197) a man in any other connexion than lawful wedlock. It included every shade of meaning from a concubine who might be a wife in all but the legal qualification of citizenship (e. g. Aspasia to Pericles; cf. CONCUBINA) to the lowest prostitute. The latter was properly called πόρνη, a more opprobrious term; but usually by the euphemistic name [p. 1.957]ἑταίρα (Ath. xiii. p. 571 d-f, citing comic writers; Anaxil. fr. 22 Meineke; Plut. Sol. 15). Between different classes of ἑταῖραι we find much the same distinctions as in dissolute cities in modern times, modified of course by the prevalence of slavery; the New Comedy, with its Latin adapters Plautus and Terence, and the ἑταιρικοὶ διάλογοι of Lucian, exhibit slave-girls owned by πορνοβοσκοί, lenones; kept mistresses, whether bond or free; private hetaerae living in houses by themselves, or sometimes two or three together; the demi-monde, ἑταῖραι πολυτελεῖς or μεγαλόμισθοι, with more or less fashionable surroundings, represented by the great historic courtesans, Phryne, Lais, &c.; and finally the assertors of women's rights to education and culture, whose lives were almost without reproach, and of whom Aspasia is the type. As persons of this class acted a prominent and influential part in some of the Greek states, we cannot avoid in this work stating their position and their relations to other classes of society. But as their conduct, manners, ensnaring artifices, and impositions have at all times and in all countries been the same, we shall confine ourselves to those points which were peculiar to the hetaerae of Greece.

As might be expected, the fact that young men at Athens, previous to their marriage, spent a great part of their time in the company of hetaerae, was very leniently viewed; though stern moralists thought that it had been otherwise in the “good old times” (Isocr. Areop. § 48). Marriage, indeed, produced on the whole a change in this mode of living of young men, but in innumerable instances even married men continued their intercourse with hetaerae, without drawing upon themselves the censure of public opinion; it seems, on the contrary, evident from the manner in which the history of one Lysias, a sophist, is told in the speech against Neaera (p. 1351.21 ff.), that such connexions after marriage were not looked upon as anything extraordinary or inconsistent, provided a man did not offend against public decency, or altogether neglect his legitimate wife and the affairs of his household, as was the case with Alcibiades. (Andoc. c. Alcib. § 14). This irregular condition of private life among the Greeks seems to have arisen chiefly from two causes: first from the unrestrained sensuality of the Creek character; and, secondly, from the generally prevailing indifference between husbands and wives. As regards the latter point, matrimonial life in the historical times of Greece was very different from that which we find described in the heroic age. How this change was brought about is not clear; but it can scarcely be doubted that, generally speaking, the Greeks looked upon marriage merely as a means of producing citizens for the state. (Dem. c. Neaer. p. 1386.122; Becker-Göll, Charikles, 3.390 ff., &c.) The education of women was almost entirely neglected; they were thought a kind of inferior beings, less endowed by nature, and incapable of taking any part in public affairs and of sympathising with their husbands. In an intellectual point of view, therefore, they were not fit to be agreeable companions to their husbands, who consequently sought elsewhere that which they did not find at home. It is true that the history of Greece furnishes many pleasing examples of domestic happiness and well-educated women, but these are exceptions, and only confirm the general rule. A consequence of all this was, that women were bound down by rules which men might violate with impunity; and a wife appears to have had no right to proceed against her husband, even if she could prove that he was unfaithful (Plaut. Mercat. 4.6, 3), although she herself was subject to divorce if she was detected. But neglect, cruelty, or riotous waste of the wife's fortune, superadded to adultery, rendered the husband liable to a δίκη κακώσεως. The case in Alciphron (Epist. 1.6), who represents a wife threatening her husband, that unless he would give up his dissolute mode of living, she would induce her father to bring a charge against him, must have been of this latter kind (Becker-Göll, Charikles, 2.88; Att. Process, p. 354 Lips.).

But to return to the hetaerae: the state not only tolerated, but protected them, and obtained profit from them. Solon is said to have established a πορϝεῖον (also called παιδισκεῖον, ἐργαστήριον or οἴκημα), in which prostitutes were kept (Athen. 13.569 d), and to have built the temple of Aphrodite Pandemos with the profit which had been obtained from them. At a later period the number of such houses at Athens was increased, and the persons who kept them were called πορνοβοσκοί, lenones. The conduct of the hetaerae in these houses is described in Athenaeus (xiii. p. 568). All the hetaerae of such houses, as well as individuals who lived by themselves and gained their livelihood by prostitution, had to pay to the state a license-duty (πορνικὸν τέλος, Aeschin. c. Timarch. § § 119, 120), and the collecting of this tax was every year let by the senate to such persons (τελῶναι, or πορνοτελῶναι, Philonides, ap. Polluc. 7.202) as were best acquainted with those who had to pay it. The hetaerae were under the superintendence of the ἀγορανόμοι (Suidas, s. v. Διάγραμμα), and their places of abode were chiefly in the Cerameicus. (Hesych. sub voce Κεραμεικός.) A ridiculous mistake of some late grammarians as to the nature of the πορνικὸν τέλος has been noticed under AGORANOMI Even Boeckh thinks that it was a kind of income-tax on their supposed profits! (P. E. p. 333= Sthh.3 1.404.)

The number of private hetaerae, or such as did not live in a πορνεῖον, was very great at Athens. They were, however, generally not mere prostitutes, but acted at the same time as flute or cithara players, and as dancers, and were as such frequently engaged to add to the splendour of family sacrifices (Plaut. Epid. 3.4, 64), or to enliven and heighten the pleasures of men at their symposia. Their private abodes, where often two, three, and more lived together, were also frequently places of resort for young men. (Isocr. Areopag. § 48.) Most of these hetaerae not only took the greatest care to preserve their physical beauty, and to acquire such accomplishments as we just mentioned, but also paid considerable attention to the cultivation of their minds. Thus the Arcadian Lastheneia was a disciple of Plato (Athen. 12. 546 d), and Leontion a disciple of Epicurus (Athen. 13.588 b); Aspasia is even said to have instructed Socrates and Pericles. Whatever [p. 1.958]we may think of the historical truth of these and similar reports, they are of importance to the historian, inasmuch as they show in what light these hetaerae were looked upon by the ancients. It seems to have been owing especially to their superiority in intellectual cultivation over the female citizens, that men preferred their society and conversation to those of citizens and wives; and that some hetaerae, such as Aspasis, Lais, Phryne, and others, formed connexions with the most eminent men of their age, and acquired considerable influence over their contemporaries. The free and unrestrained conduct and conversation, which were not subject to the strict conventional rules which honest women had to observe; their wit and humour, of which so many instances are recorded; were well calculated to ensnare young men, and to draw the attention of husbands away from their wives. Women, however, of the intellect and character of Aspasia were exceptions; and even Athenian citizens did not scruple to introduce their wives and daughters to her circles, that they might learn there the secrets by which they might gain and preserve the affections of their husbands. The disorderly life of the majority of Greek hetaerae is nowhere set forth in better colours than in the works of the writers who belong to the so-called school of the Middle Comedy, and in the plays of Plautus and Terence; with which may be compared Demosth. c. Neaer. p. 1355 ff., and Athen. xiii. It was formerly supposed that at Athens a peculiar dress was by law prescribed to the hetaerae, but this opinion is without any foundation. (Becker-Göll, Charikles, 2.103.)

The town most notorious in Greece for the number of its hetaerae, as well as for their refined manners and beauty, was Corinth. (Plato, Rep. iii. p. 404 D; Dio Chrysost. Orat. xxxvii. p. 119, Reiske; Aristoph. Pl. 149, with the Schol.; and Schol ad Lysistr. 90; Athen. 13. 573, &c.; Müller, Dor. 2.10.7.) Strabo (viii. p.378) states that the temple of Aphrodite in this town possessed more than one thousand hetaerae, who were called ἱερόδουλοι, and who were the ruin of many a stranger who visited Corinth. (Wachsmuth, Hellen. Alterth. vol. ii. p. 392.) Hence the name Κορινθία κόρη was used as synonymous with ἑταίρα, and κορινθιάζεσθαι was equivalent to ἑταιρεῖν. (Eustath. ad Il. 2.570.) At Sparta, and in most other Doric states, the hetaerae seem never to have acquired that importance which they had in other parts of Greece, and among the Greeks of Asia Minor.

An important question is, who the hetaerae generally were? The ἱερόδουλοι of Corinth were, as their name indicates, persons who had dedicated themselves as slaves to Aphrodite; and their prostitution was a kind of service to the goddess. [HIERODULI] Those πόρναι who were kept at Athens in public brothels by the πορνοβοσκοὶ were generally slaves belonging to these πορνοβοσκοί, who compelled them to prostitute their persons for the purpose of enriching themselves. The owners of these πόρναι were justly held in greater contempt than the unhappy victims themselves. Sometimes, however, they were real prostitutes, who voluntarily entered into a contract with a πορνοβοσκός: others again were females who had been educated in better circumstances and for a better fate, but had by misfortunes lost their liberty, and were compelled by want to take to this mode of living. Among this last class we may also reckon those girls who had been picked up as young children, and brought up by πορνοβοσκοὶ for the purpose of prostitution. An instance of this kind is Nicarete, a freed-woman, who had contrived to procure seven young children, and afterwards compelled them to prostitution, or sold them to men who wished to have the exclusive possession of them. (Dem. c. Neaer. p. 1351.18 ff.) Other instances of the same kind are mentioned in the comedies of Plautus. (Compare Isacus, Or. 6 [Philoct.], § 19.) Thus all prostitutes kept in public or private houses were either real slaves or at least looked upon and treated as such. Those hetaerae, on the other hand, who lived alone either as mistresses of certain individuals or as common hetaerae, were almost invariably strangers or aliens, or freed-women. The cases in which daughters of Athenian citizens adopted the life of a hetaera, as Lamia, the daughter of Cleanor (Athen. 13.577), seem to have occurred very seldom; and whenever such a case happened, the woman was by law excluded from all public sacrifices and offices, sank down to the rank of an alien, and as such became subject to the πορνικὸν τέλος: she generally also changed her name. The same degradation took place when an Athenian citizen kept a πορνεῖον, which seems to have happened very seldom. (Boeckh, P. E. p. 333=Sthh.3 1.404.)

(Fr. Jacobs, Beiträge zur Gesch. des weiblich. Geschlechts, in his Vermischte Schriften, vol. iv.; Becker-Göll, Charikles, 2.85-104, 3.306-398; Limburg-Brouwer, Histoire de la Civilisation morale et religieuse des Grecs; Wachsmuth, Hellen. Alterth. 2.392 ff.; Hermann-Blümner, Privatalterth. p. 254 ff.)

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