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Form: Gr. hetairai.
A euphemism for courtesans carrying on their profession chiefly at Corinth and Athens. In the former place they were connected with the worship of Aphrodite; in the latter they were introduced by an ordinance of Solon, who intended thereby to obviate worse evils that imperilled the sanctity of the marriage-bond and the chastity of domestic life. The intercourse of unmarried men with hetoeroe was by no means considered immoral; in the case of married men it was disapproved by custom, which, after the Peloponesian War, became more and more lax in this as in other respects. The hetoeroe who were kept in special establishments and on whom the state levied a tax, were all female slaves; on the other hand, the women called hetoeroe in a narrower sense, who carried on their trade independently, were drawn chiefly from the ranks of foreigners and freedwomen. It was quite unexampled for any Athenian citizen's daughter to become a hetoera. The important position they assumed in the social life of Athens after the Peloponnesian War is easily gathered from the later Attic Comedy, as the plot of the pieces generally turns upon the adventures of a hetoera. As custom debarred all respectable women and girls from the society of men, the female element in the latter was represented exclusively by hetoeroe, many of whom became famous by possessing the mental culture from which the female citizens were debarred by their education and by their secluded life. Thus they were able to attract even men of eminence. Aspasia of Miletus was able to make her house at Athens the meeting-point of the most remarkable men of her day; among them even a Socrates and a Pericles, and the latter deserted his wife to marry her.
Type: Standard
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