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Meretrix (porne)

A woman of loose character. There are a number of words in Greek and Latin to designate the harlot; hetaira and concubina usually implying one who has a quasi-recognized connection with a single man, while porne, meretrix, scortum, etc., designate the common prostitute. . .were very numerous at Athens and especially at Corinth, which last city was proverbial for its loose morals and the beauty of its hetaerae . . . It is probable that the indulgence with which women of this class were looked upon sprang in part from the semi-religious character of the prostitute as being associated with the worship of Aphrodite. At Corinth, for instance, a large number of these women were formally dedicated to the service of that goddess and were styled hierodouloi. Few citizens ever entered the ranks of the pornai, and whenever such a case happened loss of citizenship was the penalty, as also for a person who kept a porneion.
This extract is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities
Cited Sept 2002 from Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks.


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