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The Life of a Roman Prostitute
This six page research paper explores the life and social views of Roman prostitutes by
attempting to investigating the following questions:
How were prostitutes viewed and treated
throughout the Roman Empire, how did one become a prostitute, what were the rules that had to
be followed by women of this profession, if any, who monitored the activities of prostitutes in
Rome, where did most acts of prostitution take place, and were slaves put into the business, or
was this forbidden?
The earliest known Roman laws concerning prostitution are from Augustus’ legislation
on marriage around 19 B.C.
These laws, known as the Julian laws, prohibited the intermarriage
of Roman citizens with prostitutes, as well as the relatives and descendants that had family ties to
Wives, daughters, and granddaughters of senators and Roman knights were
not permitted to become prostitutes and they were not allowed to marry people who had been
slaves at any point in their life.
However, if the daughter of a senator became a prostitute and
she had been condemned in a criminal court for her behavior, then she could marry a freedman
since she had forfeited her rank.
Many times, women who ignored their status and became
prostitutes were fined, but they were seldom banished.
Prostitutes were only eligible for
Gardner, Jane F.,
Women in Roman Law and Society
(Indiana University Press, IN., 1986), 32.
Bullough, Vern and Bonnie.
Women and Prostitution
(Prometheus Books, New York, 1987), 54.