Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Pornosophy: The Trojan War

photo: XF Law
Two interesting sounding books were recently reviewed in the venerable TLS under the title “Human action within, Digging up the Ancient Greek sex trade”: Athenian Prostitution: The Business of Sex by Edward E. Cohen and Houses of Ill Repute: The Archeology of Brothels, Houses and Taverns in the Greek World by Allison Glazebrook and Barbara Tsakirgis. With all the talk about political correctness in universities it’s nice to know that there's a bastion of calm amongst classics scholars who are not worried about students being triggered by things that happened 2500 years ago. Of course, discussions of Sophocles Oedipus Rex have provoked complaints from some who have found the material too provocative. Barbara Graziosi, who wrote the essay/review, comments “Xenarchus, writing in the fourth century BC, claims that prostitutes are displayed to the public ‘naked in a row, drawn up in battle line’ and that ‘from them it is possible to find one that is pleasing--whether slim, fat, curvy, tall, short, young, old, middle-aged or just ripe’. Both male and female prostitutes are typically described as ‘sitting in cubicles’, in full view of potential customers." Actually Graziosi’s citation of Xenarchus brings back the old Times Square peep shows that were part of long gone classical era of cosmopolitan debauchery when Manhattan was a flesh pot. Plus ca change plus c’est la meme chose. But reading about the whores of antiquity makes one realize that Trojans is a perfect name for a brand of prophylactics.

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