Say what you want about prostitutes but their profession has been around for the longest time which is why people refer to it as the world’s oldest profession. As temples, marketplaces, and local customs evolved and thrived in the days of ancient Mesopotamia, so did prostitution.
Prostitution in Ancient Greek society was reasonably accepted, and Athens emerged as one of its foreknown centers, where brothels flourished and attracted not only locals but also foreign travelers, merchants, and sailors who came to the city for business.
Like any other occupation, it was required by law that everyone in the business paid taxes on their income, which could mean the status of this profession was perhaps more advanced than it is nowadays in many countries worldwide. Quite often, prostitutes first came in as slaves, or they were foreign women with limited rights but were allowed to make earnings by offering sex services.
Slave women who ended up in the business were frequently able to make enough money so they could buy their freedom. Many also opted to continue with the occupation, as they retained more independence and were not controlled by men, as was the case with married Athenian women.
The prostitutes had the option to work in brothels, but they were able to offer their services on the streets too. They would put on special sandals that left imprints of the message “follow me” on the ground, in the dirt, as they lured new clients to certain areas of the city.
As prostitution never ceased being a lucrative business both for brothel owners and independent workers, particularly in the case of ancient Athens, this gave a sense of infamy to the city. However, it always gave reasons for travelers to stop at the docks and spend several days there. It meant more cash flow for Athens, which helped the city strengthen its position of influence and power on the shores of the Mediterranean.
Children were in fact one of the biggest downsides of the profession. If women in the business fell pregnant, they were left with two options: to either raise the infant alone or to opt for infanticide, which unfortunately was a common practice.
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