What Did Prostitutes Do in Ancient Times?

Prostitutes have been around for centuries, and the practice of selling sexual services is not a modern phenomenon. In fact, prostitution has been a part of human history since ancient times. While the role and status of prostitutes varied across cultures and time periods, they all played a crucial role in satisfying the sexual needs of men who sought them out.

Prostitution in Ancient Times

In ancient times, prostitution was not seen as immoral or sinful as it is today. Instead, it was considered a necessary service that provided an outlet for men’s sexual desires. Prostitutes were often associated with religious temples and were considered sacred in some cultures.

Ancient Egypt

In Ancient Egypt, prostitution was legal and regulated by the state. Prostitutes were known as “public women” and were required to register with the government to work legally. They lived in special brothels known as “houses of heaven” and were highly respected in society.

Ancient Greece

Prostitution was also legal in Ancient Greece, where prostitutes were known as “hetairai.” These women were often educated and skilled in various arts such as music, dance, and poetry. They entertained men at symposia, or drinking parties, where they would engage in intellectual conversations as well as sexual activities.

Roman Empire

The Roman Empire had a thriving sex industry that catered to all types of sexual preferences. Prostitutes were referred to as “meretrices” or “fallen women.” They worked in brothels or on the streets and served clients ranging from slaves to emperors.

The Life of a Prostitute

While prostitution was legal in some ancient societies, it was still stigmatized by many people. Prostitutes often faced discrimination and abuse from clients and society at large. They also had to deal with the risk of sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies.

Working Conditions

Prostitutes worked long hours and were often subjected to physical violence from clients. They had little control over their working conditions and were often forced to work in unsafe environments.

Health Risks

Prostitutes faced a high risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections due to the nature of their work. In ancient times, there were no effective treatments for these diseases, which could lead to serious health problems and even death.


Prostitutes played a crucial role in ancient societies by providing an outlet for men’s sexual desires. While prostitution was legal in some societies, it was still stigmatized by many people.

Prostitutes faced discrimination, abuse, and health risks but continued to work due to economic necessity. Today, prostitution is illegal in most countries and remains a controversial issue.