Phryne - A Sacred Prostitute of Ancient Greece

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Manthor
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Phryne - A Sacred Prostitute of Ancient Greece

Post by Manthor » 2010-11-26 01:48am

http://maggiemcneill.wordpress.com/2010/07/31/phryne/

The following story comes from the blog of a former escort and details the story of Phyrne, a high class escort of Ancient Greece. It is a rather interesting commentary and blog. An extract here.
Any discussion of Phryne herself is pointless without a brief introduction to the world in which she lived. By the 4th century BCE the ancient tradition of sacred prostitution was a mere shadow of its former self; the practical Greeks had largely replaced the whore-priestesses with exceptionally beautiful slave-girls given to the temples as offerings, and though these sacred harlots were honored as representatives of Aphrodite they were still technically slaves. Though religion remained very important to the Greeks it was no longer the all-encompassing institution it had previously been, especially in progressive Athens; the old aristocrats had fallen out of power, and the temples were increasingly under state control. This was due to the birth of democracy, which was quickly followed by that of her bastard child the professional politician; then, as now, power-hungry individuals were willing to do anything to increase their personal power.
And another sample that I find deliciously amusing:
Eventually, she became such a celebrity that she went about veiled so that only those who paid could look upon her; however, at the festival of Poseidon in Eleusis, she stripped completely and waded into the sea in full view of everyone as an offering to the god. The event impressed the spectators so that it inspired several works of art, including the Aphrodite Anadyomene of Apelles. The politicians, however, were impressed in a different way; they were jealous of her power, wealth and popularity and so used the occasion as an excuse to arraign her on the trumped-up charge of “profaning” the festival by her offering. In those days, blasphemy was a very serious charge; if convicted, she would have been executed. She was defended by the renowned lawyer Hypereides, who was one of her clients, but despite his skill Phryne appeared doomed by the prejudice of the court; after all, she was independent, proud, educated, outspoken, powerful and wealthy, the diametric opposite of everything a “virtuous” Athenian woman was supposed to be. As a last effort, Hypereides tore off her gown to display her naked body to the judges, crying ““How could a festival in honor of the gods be desecrated by beauty which they themselves bestowed?” The desperate gambit succeeded; the Ancient Greeks viewed physical beauty as a gift of Aphrodite, and Phryne’s figure was so perfect the judges had no choice but to accept it as a sign of divine favor. Since they dared not risk incurring the anger of the love goddess, the judges were forced to acquit the famous courtesan, but they were so unhappy about their failure to make an example of her that the “nudity defense” was henceforth specifically banned in Athenian courts.
The blog offers commentary on the state of the sex industry in the US from a personal perspective.A rather alternative and refreshing view.Then again where I'm from prostitution is legal.

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Chaotic Neutral
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Re: Phryne - A Sacred Prostitute of Ancient Greece

Post by Chaotic Neutral » 2010-11-26 02:00am

Holy shit, she was so hot, they declared her a work of the Gods and let her off on a possible death sentence?

She must have been something.

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Re: Phryne - A Sacred Prostitute of Ancient Greece

Post by Omeganian » 2010-11-26 07:34am

A well known story. But you must be very ignorant in history if you call her a prostitute.
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Re: Phryne - A Sacred Prostitute of Ancient Greece

Post by Simon_Jester » 2010-11-26 08:16am

Omeganian wrote:A well known story. But you must be very ignorant in history if you call her a prostitute.
Hmm. As I recall, "prostitute" is a relatively generic term for people who have sex for money. "Courtesan" or "escort" or for that matter "hetaera" are more dignified for historical reasons, yes (mostly because they've got a history of being used as euphemisms), but they're subsets of basically the same thing.

Did Phryne not have sex for money, contrary to what little I have heard?
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Re: Phryne - A Sacred Prostitute of Ancient Greece

Post by ray245 » 2010-11-26 10:36am

Omeganian wrote:A well known story. But you must be very ignorant in history if you call her a prostitute.
He's Singaporean. Most of us finish enter the workforce without knowing who Plato is. And shouldn't this post be made in the history forum?

I fail to see what does this story belong in SLAM as opposed to History.
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Re: Phryne - A Sacred Prostitute of Ancient Greece

Post by Lagmonster » 2010-11-26 11:08am

ray245 wrote:And shouldn't this post be made in the history forum? I fail to see what does this story belong in SLAM as opposed to History.
Do you know how to PM a mod? I'm asking, because it strikes me as though we've been through this whole 'publicly backseat modding' thing in the rules.
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Re: Phryne - A Sacred Prostitute of Ancient Greece

Post by ray245 » 2010-11-26 11:13am

Lagmonster wrote:
ray245 wrote:And shouldn't this post be made in the history forum? I fail to see what does this story belong in SLAM as opposed to History.
Do you know how to PM a mod? I'm asking, because it strikes me as though we've been through this whole 'publicly backseat modding' thing in the rules.
Sorry if it was seen by you as an attempt to backseat mod. I was hoping it will be easier if I raised the issue publicly to the mods than to PM you guys. I will make use of PM next time.
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Re: Phryne - A Sacred Prostitute of Ancient Greece

Post by Elfdart » 2010-11-27 09:56am

So the ancient Greeks let a woman beat the rap because she was hot. I don't see anything unusual about that. In the modern world I doubt Scarlett Johansson or [insert name of another hot chick] would have to pay so much as a parking ticket unless they went out of their way to piss off the cops or the court. On the other hand, a woman who looked like Drew Carey in a dress would have very little leeway then or now.
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Re: Phryne - A Sacred Prostitute of Ancient Greece

Post by Thanas » 2010-11-29 02:46pm

I've got half a mind to throw this idiocy into the HoS, for it (and the following comments) manage to mangle so much of ancient society and values that it just reeks of ignorance.

I mean, even making a huge deal of being a well-educated women who provided companionship (no, this was not just sex - think of more than an even higher-regarded and less sexual version of a Geisha) to men of her chosing....and saying she was a prostitute is just missing the point entirely. In fact, the blogger seems to miss the entire point, being more interested in equating solon with a pimpmonger etc. She is making connections where none are in her quest to equate herself with Phyrne and to establish a parallel between prostitution in ancient Greece and today. As well as the whole "politicians=evil=against prositution". Right.

BTW, the greeks did not let her off just because she was beautiful and even the article says that it was due to religious reasons, not because they liked seeing naked breasts. The argument was that her breasts were to be so perfect that they were the gift of Aphrodite herself - thus condemning her would be a sin against aphrodite and thus would be punished by the other gods. The orator also claimed that she was a prophetess and a priestess of Aphrodite. This would make harming her a capital sin. One only needs to look at the Illiad to find out what happens to people who hurt priestesses - terrible calamities which doom whole kingdoms and cities.

The whole thing was even more complicated for Athens because Poseidon did not reject her offering, as the waves did not throw her back. Thus, killing her would even possibly incur the wrath of Poseidon, which of course would have been terrible news for Athens.


Note that "hotness = letting be gone" is an invalid reason for that, because the law passed after it read:
Now Phryne was a native of Thespiae; and being prosecuted by Euthias on a capital charge, she was acquitted: on which account Euthias was so indignant that he never instituted any prosecution afterwards, as Hermippus tells us. But Hypereides, when pleading Phryne's cause, as he did not succeed at all, but it was plain that the judges were about to condemn her, brought her forth into the middle of the court, and, tearing open her tunic and displaying her naked bosom, employed all the end of his speech, with the highest oratorical art, to excite the pity of her judges by the sight of her beauty, and inspired the judges with a superstitious fear, so that they were so moved by pity as not to be able to stand the idea of condemning to death "a prophetess and priestess of Aphrodite." And when she was acquitted, a decree was drawn up in the following form: "That hereafter no orator should endeavour to excite pity on behalf of any one, and that no man or woman, when impeached, shall have his or her case decided on while present."
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Re: Phryne - A Sacred Prostitute of Ancient Greece

Post by Manthor » 2010-12-21 12:26am

Hi Thanas

I posted it and linked to the forum.I found out that the blogger whose blog I linked to,Ms. Mcneill,actually posted a link to this thread.I would respectfully disagree with you on the matter of tossing this into the House of Shame.The intent was to share an anecdote that I found rather amusing.I posted it originally in the SLAM as I wasn't sure where else to post it.

http://maggiemcneill.wordpress.com/2010 ... /#comments

Here is her own post and response if you are interested in corresponding with her.

Regards and Merry Christmas

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Re: Phryne - A Sacred Prostitute of Ancient Greece

Post by Thanas » 2010-12-21 11:34am

I didn’t want to join Star Destroyer just to reply to that moderator (?) because it would’ve been tacky and might have made you look bad (people might have thought you invited me).
Yeah, that sure would have been tacky. Better make a whole post about it instead, accusing me of hating "dirty prostitutes" (Tip: Prositution is both legal and a union job where I come from and I supported the law that changed that) and thus needing to lie about my words out of some idiotic puritanical mindset (gee, wherever in her extensive search of my board posts did she come up with that? Maybe she misread my signature?).

But of course, making a whole blog post labeling me as the great puritanical hope is much more dignified than spending three seconds on signing up.
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A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way. Well, the answer to that is 'survival as what'? A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult! - Chief Judge Haywood
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Re: Phryne - A Sacred Prostitute of Ancient Greece

Post by Thanas » 2010-12-21 12:38pm

Locked the topic by mistake.

Anway, I have replied to her, let's see what comes from it.
Whoever says "education does not matter" can try ignorance
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A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way. Well, the answer to that is 'survival as what'? A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult! - Chief Judge Haywood
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