:"For the elite Ancient Macedonian cavalry ("hetairoi", "companions"), see Companion cavalry."

In ancient Greece, hetaerae (in Greek polytonic|ἑταῖραι, "hetairai") were courtesans, that is to say, sophisticated companions and prostitutes.


In ancient Greek society, hetaerae were independent and sometimes influential women who were required to wear distinctive dresses and had to pay taxes. Composed mostly of ex-slaves and foreigners, these courtesans were renowned for their achievements in dance and music, as well as for their physical talents. There is evidence that, unlike most other women in Greek society at the time, hetaerae were educated. It is remarkable that hetaerae not only were the only women who would actively take part in the symposia, but also that their opinions and beliefs were respected by men, possibly due to the importance of pillow talk.Fact|date=February 2007

Some similarities have been found between the ancient Greek hetaera, the earlier Babylonian Nadītu, the Japanese Oiran, and the Korean kisaeng, complex figures that are perhaps in an intermediate position between prostitutes and entertainers.

Among the most famous were Thargelia, a renowned Ionian hetaera of ancient times,Plutarch, "Pericles", [http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0182;query=chapter%3D%23169;layout=;loc=Per.%2023.1/ XXIV] ] Aspasia, long-time companion of the Athenian politician Pericles, Archeanassa companion of Plato, the famous Neaira, and Thaïs, a concubine of Ptolemy, general on the expedition of Alexander the Great and later king of Egypt.

Hetaerae appear to have been regarded as distinct from "pornê" or simple prostitutes, and also distinguished from mistresses or wives. In the oration "Against Neaera",Demosthenes, Oration [http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?lookup=Dem.+59+122 59.122] ] Demosthenes said:

:"“We have hetaerae for pleasure, pallakae to care for our daily body’s needs and gynaekes to bear us legitimate children and to be faithful guardians of our households.”"

In this same oration, Demosthenes mentions that Neaira's purchase price (both at her original purchase by Timanoridas of Corinth and Eucrates of Leucas and her own subsequent purchase of her freedom) was 30 minas. Since the mina was equal to 100 drachmae and the drachma can be thought of as equivalent to the daily wage of a skilled worker, this would make her purchase price over 8 years salary—obviously beyond the means of the average person.

The male form of the word, "hetaeros" (pl. "hetaeroi"), signified male companions in the sense of a business or political associate. Most famously, it referred to Alexander the Great's bodyguard cavalry unit (see Companion cavalry).

In Jungian psychology, the hetaere is one of Toni Wolff's four feminine archetypes.

See also

* Prostitution in Ancient Greece
* Primitive promiscuity
* Religious prostitution


External links

* [http://www.hist.uib.no/antikk/antres/Womens%20life.htm An essay on women’s lives in classical Athens]
* [http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/greece/hetairai/hetairai.html James Grout: "Hetairai", part of the "Encyclopædia Romana"]

* [http://www.attalus.org/old/athenaeus13a.html#c25 The hetaerae of Athens - from Book 13 of Athenaeus]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • hetaera — 1820, mistress, from M.L. hetaera, from Gk. hetaira female companion, in Athens opposed to lawful wife, and thus embracing everything from concubine to courtesan; fem. of hetairos comrade, companion, from PIE *swet aro , suffixed form of root… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Hetaera — He*t[ae] ra, Hetaira He*tai ra, n.; pl. { r[ae]}. [NL. See {Hetairism}.] (Gr. Antiq.) A female paramour; a mistress, concubine, or harlot. {He*t[ae] ric}, {He*tai ric}, a. [Webster 1913 Suppl.] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Hetaera — HETAERA, æ, sieh Amica …   Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon

  • hetaera — [hitī′rə] n. pl. hetairai [hi tīrī΄hi tir′ə] n. hetaerae [hi tir′ē] or hetaeras [Gr hetaira, fem. of hetairos, companion] in ancient Greece, a courtesan or concubine, usually an educated slave: also hetaira [hitī′rə] n. hetairai [hi tīrī΄] …   English World dictionary

  • hetaera — or hetaira noun (plural hetaerae or hetaeras or hetairas or hetairai) Etymology: Greek hetaira, literally, companion, feminine of hetairos Date: 1820 1. one of a class of highly cultivated courtesans in ancient Greece 2. demimondaine …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • hetaera — hetaeric, adj. /hi tear euh/, n., pl. hetaerae / tear ee/. 1. a highly cultured courtesan or concubine, esp. in ancient Greece. 2. any woman who uses her beauty and charm to obtain wealth or social position. Also, hetaira. [1810 20; < Gk hetaíra… …   Universalium

  • hetaera — noun /hɪˈtɪəɹə/ A mistress, especially a highly cultivated courtesan in ancient Greece. But of course our friend is only a shallow twentieth century reproduction of the great hetairae of the past, the type to which she belongs without knowing it …   Wiktionary

  • hetaera — he·tae·ra || hɪ tɪrÉ™ / tɪər n. concubine, mistress (in ancient Greece) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • hetaera — [hɪ tɪərə] (also hetaira tʌɪrə) noun (plural hetaeras or hetaerae tɪəri: or hetairas or hetairai tʌɪrʌɪ) a courtesan or mistress, especially an educated one in ancient Greece. Origin from Gk hetaira, feminine of hetairos companion …   English new terms dictionary

  • hetaera — he·tae·ra …   English syllables

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