Thursday, April 28, 2011


In ancient Greecehetaerae (in Greek ἑταῖραιhetairai) were courtesans, that is to say, highly educated, sophisticated companions close to what is for the modern times the geishas. They are often but wrongly being confused as prostitutes, given that although having open sexual relations, didn't get paid for that.
In ancient Greek society, hetaerae were independent and sometimes influential women who were required to wear distinctive dresses and had to pay taxes. Mostly ex-slaves from other cities, these courtesans were renowned for their achievements in dance and music, as well as for their physical and intellectual talents. Unlike most other women in Greek society at the time, hetaerae were educated. Τhey were also the only women who actively took part in the symposia where their opinion was welcomed and respected by men.

Some similarities have been found between the ancient Greek hetaera, the earlier Babyloniannadītu, the Japanese geisha, and the Korean kisaeng.
The hetairai involved with kings were noticeably monogamous. Polemon tells us that Lamia was the daughter of the Athenian citizen, Cleanor, and that she had built the stoa or art gallery at Sicyon as a benefaction to the people. Lamia was renowned not only for her beauty and charm, but also possessed a great wit.
Among the most famous were Thargelia, a renowned Ionian hetaera of ancient times, Aspasia companion of PericlesArcheanassacompanion of Plato, the famous Neaira, and Thaïs, a concubine of Ptolemy, general on the expedition of Alexander the Great and later king of Egypt.
Marble bust of Aspasia of Miletus from the Musei Vaticani. Roman copy of a Hellenistic bust of Aspasia of Miletus.

Hetaerae appear to have been regarded as distinct from prostitutes (pόrne), and also distinguished from mistresses (pallakide) or wives (gynaekes). In the oration Against NeaeraDemosthenes said:
We have hetaerae for pleasure, pallakae to care for our daily body’s needs and gynaekes to bear us legitimate children and to be faithful guardians of our households.”
The male form of the word, hetaeros (pl. hetaeroi), signified male companions in the sense of a business or political associate. Most famously, it referred to Alexander the Great's bodyguard cavalry unit .
In Jungian psychology, the hetaere is one of Toni Wolff's four feminine archetypes.

Simone de Beauvoir makes significant discussion of the hetaira type in her seminal volume, The Second Sex.

No comments:

Post a Comment