Ulerian prostitutes (long)

From: Frank Rafaelsen (rafael@nvg.ntnu.no)
Date: Thu 22 Jan 1998 - 17:00:56 EET


Ulerian Prostitution

There has been a lot of people speaking out against portraying the Uleria
cultists as prostitutes. Without accusing anyone I think that smells of
20th century moralism. What one must realise is there are many kinds of
prostitutes, some I think are very appropriate for Ulerian cultists and
some I feel are not. The issue of the morals of prostitution in the RW is
not somthing I'm going to talk about at all in this post since I think
it's entirely beside the point.
        They could be like the Greek hetaes who were highly educated
and well mannered. Demosthenes once said that Greek men in his time had
hetaes for pleasure, concubines to take care of the bodily needs and wives
to produce offspring and take care of the house. The hetaes were the only
women the men in ancient Greece recognised as equals. In many ways the
Greek hetaes were the first free women. There had been princesses in other
cultures who were educated and who were familiar in the ways of etiquette.
But they were born into their positions. The hetaes were different, they
fought for their position, bought their freedom, studied litterature and
philosophy, and managed to get a better grip on the contemporary men than
any eastern princess ever did. The Greek divided their prostitutes into
three groups: The Deiktrides were the common prostitues. The auletrides
were dancers and performers. They earned quite a lot and could easily rise
to the level of hetae. The hetae could walk freely around in the city. And
by marking the tombstones in the local graveyard they could signal witch
one of their numerous admirers they would receive later that day. Thus
even though they were prostitutes they were far from available to anyone.
They held parties, sometimes only for women, and entertained their guests
with classy diners.
        Or the Uleria cultists could be like Indian temple dancers. In the
last century BC one can find about 300 words for prostitute in younger
sanskrit: An educated luxury prostitute is called an ganika, a
templeprostitute is called devadasi and a common prostitute is called
vecya. Hindu culture set great value in free sex while rape and forced sex
were scorned. Payment and gifts were seen as acceptable ways to help a
girl make up her mind. But the culture's ambivalent attitude to women
resulted, among other things in marriages where men could treat their
wives as slaves or servants and at the same time in attitudes like this:
"Women take twice as much pleasure from their food, they have four times
the insight, they are six times as brave and get eight times as much
pleasure from sex." In a culture where it was dishonourable to outlive
your man, and honourable to throw yourself on his funeral pyre the
alternative of becoming a temple dancer would mean a more independent
life. The problem was that one had to satisfy both male gods and paying
customers. But it was a option. The dancers were below the priests in rank
but they were the pride of the temple and some became local 'pop-stars.'
        As far as I can see uleria cultists in peloria could be both
hetae, ganika and devadasi. They would not be the common prostitutes but
rather the kind of courtesans that love sick poets write tragedies about,
women admired and fought over by armies of menn (and perhaps women).

        On the other hand I don't think uleria cultists are prostitutes
among the rural orlanthi as I don't think prostitution is a known
phenomenon in those areas (note, prostitution as opposed to sex slavery).
Portraying her as an aspect of Ernalda would be more appropriate there.
But in cities, like sartar ,I guess there would be a growing presence of
pelorian prostitution, and perhaps even Esrolian prostitution (whatever
that is). Perhaps male prostitution only is tabu in Sun County if the male
buyer plays the submissive role (as it was in rome). Perhaps their
uleria temples has got a rather large body of male initiates. In cities
where one have a strong guild structure the uleria temple hierarchy could
be the guild hierarchy of the sexworkers. Guilds like those found in
europe in the 1400s. Other places the Uleria cult could organise homes for
prostitutes like the Magdalena homes. In those places prostitutes could
stay for a while before they once more took up their trade.

Someone on the digest said that Uleria cultists were not prostitutes since
prostitution was something different from love. I find this comment both
naive and strange (sorry whoever you are). If you look at the volumes of
poems and tragedies written by poets that were unable win the favours of
some courtesan you wil realise that love could very much be a part of it.
"Love me forever, but don't get angry if others do likevise" was
embroidered on the belt of the hetae Hermoine.

ps: If the excellent book Verdens vanskeligste yrke (The most difficult of
trades) by Nils Johan Ringdal ever is translated to english I urge anyone
interested in the subject to take a look at it. It's a jolly good read.

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