Young Friends event spills secrets inside little black book of prostitution


Prostitution has often been dubbed “the oldest profession” for its seemingly persistent presence throughout human history.

In his 1939 article on the “History of Prostitution,” published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, author F. Arnold Clarkson wrote that the earliest human records, about 4000 B.C.E., make reference to sex workers.

While he maintained that calling prostitution “the oldest profession,” in light of historical investigation, “is hardly in keeping with the truth,” he also stated that there is no evidence that the “elemental sex instinct, ‘the ever-raging animal in man,’ as Plato called it,” has been “altered in the slightest degree by all the centuries of culture and education.”

Nearly 75 years since Clarkson’s observations, “the ever-raging animal in man” rages on.

On Thursday, Feb. 17, the Young Friends of the Penn Museum present the secrets inside the little black book of prostitution in “Prostitution Ancient and Modern: A Tell-All Confession.”

Judith Barr, a Young Friends board member and chair of the event, says the program is the Young Friend’s annual Valentine’s Day gathering, and continues the group’s tradition of “fun and flirtatious talks that revolve around discussions of love and sex in the ancient world.”

For this year’s chat, Nicholas Rauh, a professor of classics at Purdue University and author of “The Sacred Bonds of Commerce: Religion, Economy, and Trade Society at Hellenistic Roman Delos, 166-87 B.C.,” discusses archaeological evidence for prostitution at sites like ancient Roman trading ports, paired with his own observations of contemporary Turkey.

The program begins at 6:15 p.m. For more information, call 215-898-4000 or visit $10 general admission; $5 Museum members; $5 full-time college students with ID.

As with all Young Friends events, happy hour is available with libations inspired by the flavors of the Mediterranean—Champagne and pomegranate—at the cash bar in the Lower Egyptian Gallery, along with raffle prizes from local businesses. The affair is designed for ages 21 to 45.


Originally published on February 10, 2011