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Hetaera

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Hetaera (from the Greek Гетταίρα-friend, companion) - in Ancient Greece, a woman leading a free, independent lifestyle. Ancient Greek hetaerae received as brilliant an education as men, and played a significant role in the life of society.

The term hetaera itself is of Greek origin, in ancient Rome it acquired a different connotation and began to denote women who were engaged in prostitution. In Latin, there were also its analogues:

"Phryne's Hetaera before the Areopagus". Painting by J.-L. Jerome. Kunsthalle, Hamburg, 1861,

Greek hetaerae were descended from slaves, and later they could become free women. Often the mistress gave her slave to be raised, and then released her to freedom or gave her to a worthy patron. The most famous Hetaerae were well educated. The term, which originally appeared in the ancient Greeks, later reached other cultures, acquiring a new meaning. In ancient Greece, hetaerae were educated unmarried women who held meetings with prominent politicians, philosophers, poets, sculptors, and others in their homes. As a rule, hetaerae were supported by a rich patron, and they were paid a lot of money for the favor of these women. Preserved stone slabs on which men carved the price offered to the desired hetaera. However, this was not prostitution in the modern sense, since hetaerae lived a sexual life only with those patrons to whom they felt feelings.

Ordinary prostitutes existed in parallel with hetaerae. The ancient Greek orator and politician Demosthenes said that every self-respecting Greek has three women: a wife for procreation, a slave for sensual pleasures and a hetaera for spiritual comfort. A hetaera could get married. For example, the famous hetaera Aspasia, famous for her intelligence, education and beauty, became the wife of the famous military commander Pericles.

Hetaera Phryne. 4th century BC
Hetaera Aspasia. 5th century BC
Hetaera dancing at a symposium. 5th-3rd century BC

Related topics

Women in Ancient Rome, Women in Ancient Greece, Spintrias