One of the most common misconceptions that exist in modern society is that the hetera engaged in prostitution. In fact, in ancient times, hetaera stood at a much higher social level than women of easy virtue. They undoubtedly enjoyed great prestige, their services were much more expensive, moreover, they often chose their lovers for themselves, and were not at all obliged to bestow their attention on everyone who longed for their love. The Greek orator Demosthenes said that every self-respecting Greek should have three women: a wife for the continuation of the race, a slave for sensual pleasures, and a hetera for spiritual comfort.
"Socrates finds Alkviad in the house of Aspasia", Jean-Leon Jerome, 1861
German archaeologist Wolfgang Gelbig, who studied classical philology and archeology, wrote: “Many of them were distinguished by refined erudition and lively wit; they knew how to charm the most prominent figures of their time - commanders, politicians, writers and artists - and how to tie them to themselves for a long time; they are a visual embodiment of existence, marked by a mixture of subtle intellectual and sensual pleasures - of existence, which was so revered by the Greeks of that time. In the life of almost every remarkable person who played a prominent role in the history of Hellenism, the influence of some famous hetera is discernible. Most contemporaries did not find anything reprehensible in this. ”
The heterosexuals were incredibly honored. In the II century BC. er many buildings in Alexandria were named hetero. The statues of Aphrodite's petitions were installed in temples and public places alongside sculptures of philosophers, politicians, and military leaders. For example, the figure of the famous Hetera Phryne was carved out of marble and installed in Delphi between the sculptures of King Arhidam and Philip. Residents of the city did not find anything reprehensible in this. Only the cynic Cratus, who declared that the statue of Hetera Phryne in the temple, was a monument to Greek shame, was indignant. However, Phryne was not a simple priestess of love - she was glorified by beauty and scandalous history. According to Athena, the sculptor Praksitel blasphemously depicted the goddess Aphrodite naked, and the beautiful Freene served as a model for him. Geter had to stand trial. Her lawyer was the famous orator Hyperid, who, noticing that the speech did not make the proper impression on the judges, tore off the veil from Phryna, revealing her perfect body. “The judges were seized with holy trembling, and they did not dare to execute the prophetess and the priestess of Aphrodite.”
"Heter Freene before the Areopagus", Jean-Leon Gerome, 1861
Athenaeus also talks about Phryne’s unusual character. Once during the Poseidon feast, she took off her clothes in front of everyone, let her hair loose and went into the sea. On another occasion, she asked her beloved Praxitela which of his works he values most. The sculptor refused to answer, then the hetero decided to go for a trick. She ordered a servant to break into the house of Praxitele and horrified to inform him that the workshop was on fire, and only some of the sculptures had survived. “Everything is lost if the fire destroyed my Satire and Eroto!” He exclaimed. Frida grinned and said that it was just a ploy. Soothing Praksitel allowed her to choose any of their statues as a gift. Gethera took Eros and dedicated him to a temple in her hometown of Thespii. It was in gratitude for such a gift that the inhabitants of the city entrusted Praxitele to carve Frida's figure for the temple at Delphi.
Heteros often became heroines of the comedies of famous poets. For example, Menander made the protagonist of one of his comedies the priestess of Aphrodite Faida (according to another version, her name was Tais). It was she who once was the mistress of Alexander the Great himself. Due to its beauty, it enjoyed great influence on the political life of the country.
In 330 BC. er Alexander seized the capital of the empire Akhmenidov Persepolis. In honor of the victory, he gave a magnificent feast, which was attended by Faida. When the men got pretty drunk, hetera offered the king to set fire to the Persian capital in retaliation for the fact that they had once set fire to the temple of the Athenian Acropolis. Alexander agreed - he was the first to throw the burning torch, followed by the torch and Fayid. After the death of the king, Hethera truly rose up, becoming the wife of Ptolemy I, who ruled in Egypt.
Alexander of Macedon with geters in Persepolis
Plutarch considers the famous asterus Aspasia to be the culprit for the war between Athens and Samos for her hometown of Miletus. Her beauty and mind attracted prominent men, among whom was Socrates himself. And Pericles even divorced his wife to marry a beautiful hetero. At that time, this marriage was a misalliance, and comedians did not stint at ridicule, comparing the commander with Hercules under the heels of Dejanira.
Kingdom for the hetre
Heter was often scolded for their greed. A vivid example of the behavior of priestesses of love can be found in a letter to Filumena to her lover Criton: “Why do you bother yourself with long letters? I need not letters, but fifty gold coins. If you love me, pay; but if you love money more, then stop bothering me. Goodbye! ”There were even codes of heteros that have come down to us only in descriptions. They described how to behave with a man, how much money you need to take. In “Hetero's Talk” of Lukian in one of the dialogs, the mother instructs her daughter and advises her to become heterosexual. She describes all the pleasures of life priestess of love and persuades not to disdain the plain, but rich men.
Hetera dancing at a feast
Getters earned enough to bring expensive vows to the gods, as well as to buy cosmetics and clothes. As Aristophanes describes, women not only powder, blush and make up, but also used fake hair and hair liners, front sights, chest ribbons and buttock ribbons, which helped to hide excess volumes and give the body seductive shapes. But heteras, unlike prostitutes, were not only beautiful, but often well educated, knowledgeable in matters of philosophy and art, many of them playing the flute. That is why men were willing to spend innumerable amounts to spend time in the society of heteras.
An image of a hetera from an antique vase