The sacred life of the hetaira in ancient Greece
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT REQUEST OF AUTHOR.] Religion in the ancient Greek world was integral to societal function, and arguably to survival. Whether citizen, slave, or freedman, some form of religious activity was available to every individual. This privilege extended to the hetaira as well, whose identity in Greek society might be equated to a courtesan or highclass prostitute. Hetairai held a unique position because of their unusual degree of agency: they were wealthy, exotic, and participated in the male world. This study explores how hetairais' considerable freedom influenced their religious activities, and additionally how their social identity informed their perception in the sacred realm. Too often are hetairai explored through their identity as erotic entertainers of men, and this thesis attempts to divert attention to their private interests and endeavors. While the professional identity of hetairai indeed informed much of their religious activities, they were nonetheless acting on their own terms and in their own self-interest. Self-conscious of their role as entertainer and sexual provider, hetairai invested their efforts in maintaining their professional success. I examine evidence of the hetaira's religious worship through the literary and material record. I consider different avenues of worship, such as festival participation and the offering of votives, largely within the context of Aphrodite cult. Hetairais' professional concerns with sexuality, beauty and companionship become clear in light of their worship of Aphrodite. Contrary to their general portrayal in modern scholarship, hetairais' religious activities did not simply revolve around sex, but also other factors that concerned their line of work.
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