Phryne

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The Honest Courtesan

Come yourself to me, and in this enclosure we will fall into each other’s arms. –  Phryne

I mentioned in yesterday’s column that one of my heroines was Phryne (390-330 BCE), the hetaera of classical Athens, whom I first read about in the paperback version of The Book of Lists when I was 13 or 14.  Though it is not difficult to find information on this great lady online, I felt it only right to compose my own tribute to the woman who was one of my earliest examples of the truth that degradation is something jealous people try to impose on whores rather than something intrinsic to our profession.

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…

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