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Prostitution in Roman Empire

Prostitutes were obliged to be registered with the Aedile (local magistrate) where their name, age, place of birth and a pseudo name, if wished, would be recorded. After being asked her price, each prostitute would be issued with a licence (Licentia Stupri) and her name added to the official roll. Once on the list there was no way back - the record was forever. Prostitutes were known by many different names depending on their own status within their own community, for example: ‘Doris’ - noted for their enchanted forms, often in the nude. ‘Lupae’ - or ‘she wolf’ because she patrolled the parks and gardens and howled for customers. ‘Copae’ - serving girls in inns. Some were well-kept women from high class families, some (as today) used their influence for political power and most were Freedwomen. Prostitution as a profession could be a lucrative business (for some). The tariff inscription from Coptos in Roman Egypt, dated to AD 90, states that the passport fee for prostitutes was 108 drachmas, but for other women only 20 drachmas - clearly it was thought that the prostitutes could afford the fee. The rooms used by Rome’s prostitutes were often very simply and sparsely decorated, albeit with a tablet above the door way to indicate what a client could expect and a sign to indicate when ‘occupied’. While sexual disease was known, not much is mentioned in the surviving sources. Juvenal hints at it ‘auchunnuentae’ (secret diseases), for which he says you had ‘best pray to Juno and take herbal remedies‘. In a similar vein, Soranus wrote ‘straightforward and sensible’ advice about contraception, with techniques including:
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Potions to cause temporary infertility. Amulets embued with ‘magic’ properties were worn. For example, Pliny records the tying of two little worms, believed to live in hairy spiders, in deerskin - or maybe you fancy wearing the liver of a cat in a tube on the left foot! The rhythm method was largely ineffective because Roman

Similarly. and their short tunics and brightly coloured togas.H. Dr Lindsay Allason-Jones says that prostitutes in Italy were often of Syrian or Egyptian origin. and in which she cannot truthfully declare that she is not naked. and were identifiable by their heavy makeup. should wriggle their hips and ‘so divert the plow and the seed'  Prostitutes were forbidden to wear the stola. white lead or olive oil were used with some degree of effectiveness. that is. and make sure that her thigh is not misshapen or her foot ugly. But was Seneca talking about prostitutes or respectable women? In other writings Seneca says (N.  Conception was thought unlikely to occur when women did not have a desire for intercourse! Of course you could always try holding your breath at ejaculation. you can measure her flank with your eye’. Seneca wrote: ‘There I see silken clothes. 31. xi 22(26). (Plin.medical writers believed the most fertile time was just as menstruation ended.Q vii. if they can be called clothes which protect neither a women’s body nor her modesty. prostitutes wore saffron-dyed material of gauzelike transparency. sneeze and drink something cold. as we have said. when the appetite for sex was said to be strongest. N. This quote from the poet Horatius speaks of the Freedwomen who. even going so far as to gilt their breasts. Even Marie Stopes advocated the use of honey in 1931. the dress of a Roman matron. made up most of the population of the prostitutes in Rome.2) “we men wear the colours used by prostitutes. but not wives. but were instead made to wear the toga as their outer garment. Lucretius recommends that whores. alum. in which respectable married women would not be . According to Sarah B Pomeroy. which if worn with transparent material would possible appear yellow? Red and Yellow? ‘No concealment here! You can see her almost naked in her Coan dress. the lack of bands in their hair. They also wore long gold chains that went down to their waist. or post-coitally to squat. These are bought for huge sums from nations unknown to us in the ordinary course of trade and why?’ Such garments of airy delicacy were called ‘Coan’ because they were imported from Cos into Greece and Rome.  Pessaries made from soaking soft wool in honey.

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