Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies

College of Letters & Science
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Courtesans at Table: Gender and Greek Literary Culture in Athenaeus

Author: Laura McClure

Witty nicknames, crude jokes, public nudity and lavish monuments - all of these things distinguished Greek courtesans from respectable citizen women in ancient Greece. Although prostitutes appear as early as archaic Greek lyric poetry, our fullest accounts come from the late 2nd century CE. Drawing on Book 13 of the Athenaeus' "Deipnosophistae", which contains almost all known references to Hetaeras from all periods of Greek literature, Laura K. McClure has created a window onto the ways ancient Greeks perceived the courtesan and the role of the courtesan in Greek life. 

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