"We should be grateful for this collection in which the thorny problems faced by excavators trying to identify ancient buildings as brothels are thoroughly parsed."—American Journal of ArchaeologyThe study of ancient Greek urbanism has moved from examining the evidence for town planning and the organization of the city-state, or polis, to considerations of "everyday life." That is, it has moved from studying the public (fortifications, marketplaces, council houses, gymnasiums, temples, theaters, fountain houses) to studying the private (the physical remains of Greek houses). But what of those buildings that housed activities neither public nor private—brothels, taverns, and other homes of illicit activity? Can they be distinguished from houses? Were businesses like these run from homes? Classical Athenian writers attest to a diverse urban landscape that included tenement houses (sunoikiai), inns (diaitai, pandokeia), factories (ergasteria), taverns (kapelia), gambling dens (skirapheia), training schools (didaskaleia), and brothels (porneia), yet, despite our knowledge of specific terms, associating them with actual physical remains has not been easy. One such writer, Isaeus, mentions tenement houses that hosted prostitutes and wine sellers, while his contemporary Aeschines refers to doctors, smiths, fullers, carpenters, and pimps renting space. Were tenement houses not simply multi-inhabitant spaces but also multipurpose ones?
"Houses of Ill Repute is a prime example of what can be gained by a careful study of archaeological contexts. The essays collected in the volume build on previous studies of domestic architecture by considering the evidence for structures used as Greek brothels and their urban context."—John Oakley, College of William and Mary
Houses of Ill Repute is the first book to focus on the difficulties of distinguishing private and semiprivate spaces. While others have studied houses or brothels, this volume looks at both together. The chapters, by leading scholars in the field, address such questions as "What is a house?" and "Did the business of prostitution leave behind a unique archaeological record?" Presenting several approaches to identifying and studying distinctions between domestic residences and houses of ill repute, and drawing on the fields of literature, history, and art history and theory, the volume's contributors provide a way forward for the study of domestic and entertainment spaces in the Hellenic world.
Contributors: Bradley A. Ault, Allison Glazebrook, Mark L. Lawall, Kathleen M. Lynch, David Scahill, Amy C. Smith, Monika Trümper, Barbara Tsakirgis.
Allison Glazebrook is Associate Professor of Classics at Brock University. With Madeleine Henry, she edited Greek Prostitutes in the Ancient Mediterranean, 800 BCE-200 CE.
Barbara Tsakirgis is Associate Professor of Classics at Vanderbilt University.