Economics of Sex in Ancient Greece

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Sex had considerable relational and economic product differentiation in the ancient Greco-Roman world. Sex could be purchased by the act from persons who offered themselves on the street and in brothels. Courtesans, also called hetaera, engaged in more ambiguous, more complex relationships that involved gifts and ongoing access.^ Courtesans were socially sophisticated and highly cultured. These qualities helped them to attract, entertain, and extract resources from men who sought ongoing sexual access to them.^ Courtesans’ sophistication and social success provides the generic framework for Roman love elegy.

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