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Prostitutes and Matrons in the Roman World


  • Date Published: December 2018
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316602645


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About the Authors
  • Prostitutes and Matrons in the Roman World is the first substantial account of elite Roman concubines and courtesans. Exploring the blurred line between proper matron and wicked prostitute, it illuminates the lives of sexually promiscuous women like Messalina and Clodia, as well as prostitutes with hearts of gold who saved Rome and their lovers in times of crisis. It also offers insights into the multiple functions of erotic imagery and the circumstances in which prostitutes could play prominent roles in Roman public and religious life. Tracing the evolution of social stereotypes and concepts of virtue and vice in ancient Rome, this volume reveals the range of life choices and sexual activity, beyond the traditional binary depiction of wives or prostitutes, that were available to Roman women.

    • Proposes a new and more nuanced understanding of the lives of Roman women, especially lower-class women
    • Establishes that the 'whore' stereotype rests on fear of women's disloyalty and economic independence, rather than on their sexual activity
    • Illuminates the lives of women from a variety of social classes in ancient Rome
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Her study demands that we ponder a more complex role for prostitutes in Roman society and reject their status as largely social and legal outcasts. This reader was particularly struck by Strong's parallelism between meretrices and freedmen as threatening on account of their social mobility. … Strong's contribution and what makes her work a worthwhile read are the questions she asks, the variety of evidence employed, as well as her comprehensive knowledge of the subject. I recommend her monograph to anyone interested in prostitution, gender, sexuality, women, and social and cultural history more broadly. It provokes new thought on an old profession.' Allison Glazebrook, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2018
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316602645
    • length: 314 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 150 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.45kg
    • contains: 20 b/w illus. 5 maps
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Faithful wives and greedy prostitutes
    2. Good little prostitutes
    3. Powerful concubines and influential courtesans
    4. Matrona as Meretrix
    5. Can you know a Meretrix when you see one?
    6. Prostitutes and matrons in the urban landscape
    7. Pious prostitutes
    8. The 'whore' label in Western culture
    Conclusion. Liminal women.

  • Author

    Anise K. Strong, Western Michigan University
    Anise K. Strong, winner of the Women's Classical Caucus Award for best presentation in classical gender studies, received her B.A. from Yale University, Connecticut and her M.Phil. and Ph.D. from Columbia University, New York before beginning her professional career at Northwestern University, Illinois, Stanford University, California, and Western Michigan University. She is an Assistant Professor at Western Michigan University and is also a consultant for various television series in their depictions of antiquity.

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