SUPERVISED BY: Professor Edward Harris
TITLE: When is a Whore a Whore? The Contextualisation of Greek Terminology for "Non-Wives" and their Social and Legal Status in Classical and Hellenistic Greece.
Despite increased interest in studying women's status in antiquity (Pomeroy 1975, Keuls 1985, Just 1989) the apparent inconsistency of representations and vocabulary used of "non-wives" has led them all (including pallakai, "concubines", who do not appear to have actually been sex-workers, and even to have been free and possibly citizens) to be classed as "other" (non-citizen), synonymous with "sexually available". The hetairai/pallakai/gunaikes trichotomy of [Demosthenes] 59.122 has also been branded arbitrary and misleading. Consequently scholarship has largely neglected to study the social and legal position of "non-wives", concentrating on their "respectable" counterparts.
My doctoral research project seeks to rectify this situation. I will use a wide variety of evidence (literary, legal, epigraphic, and archaeological) to study representations of "non-wives" throughout Greece to construct an holistic picture of attitudes towards them, determining their status within society (legally and socially) and the fluidity of that status. My research begins in looking at marriage and the status and position of married women in order to have a comprehensive base for comparison. Terminology is a crucial issue for my diachronic investigation, with the consistency of the application of words for types of prostitutes (e.g. hetaira and pornē) being much debated. I shall analyse the terminology used to describe "non-wives", their actions, the context and consistency of the vocabulary used, assessing whether the literary context or actual status of the women affected their representation. I shall consider the degree to which representations were affected by social and political ideology, generic conventions and source context, in order to account for inconsistencies. I shall re-examine the status of pallakai, who it seems may have included citizen women (Isaios 3.39). As women in ancient Greece were not active or fully independent citizens I shall consider the rights and status of the children of such unions as the best indicator of the mother's social and legal status, something which is a contentious issue and requires careful handling.