The Myth of Sacred Prostitution in Antiquity (Hardcover)Why is this important? Because anti-pagan polemic has often centred on the issue of temple prostitutes. If temple prostitution didn't exist, then that's another fallacy exploded.
by Stephanie Lynn Budin (Author)
In this study, Stephanie Budin demonstrates that sacred prostitution, the sale of a person's body for sex in which some or all of the money earned was devoted to a deity or a temple, did not exist in the ancient world. Reconsidering the evidence from the ancient Near East, the Greco-Roman texts, and the Early Christian authors, Budin shows that the majority of sources that have traditionally been understood as pertaining to sacred prostitution actually have nothing to do with this institution. The few texts that are usually invoked on this subject are, moreover, terribly misunderstood. Furthermore, contrary to many current hypotheses, the creation of the myth of sacred prostitution has nothing to do with notions of accusation or the construction of a decadent, Oriental "Other." Instead, the myth has come into being as a result of more than 2,000 years of misinterpretations, false assumptions, and faulty methodology. The study of sacred prostitution is, effectively, a historiographical reckoning.
About the Author
Stephanie Budin received her PhD in Ancient History from the University of Pennsylvania with concentrations in Greece and the Ancient Near East. She studied at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens as a Pennfield Fellow and the following year she continued her studies both there and at the Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem as the Samuel H. Kress Joint Athens-Jerusalem Fellow. She has delivered papers in Athens, Nicosia, Jerusalem, London, Dublin, Stockholm, Oldenburg, and in various cities throughout the United States.
a.. Hardcover: 392 pages
a.. Publisher: Cambridge University Press (January 14, 2008)
a.. Language: English
a.. ISBN-10: 0521880904
a.. ISBN-13: 978-0521880909
a.. Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 1.1 inches
Another possibility that has been suggested (by Esther M Harding in Women's Mysteries) is that women went to the temple at least once in their lives to offer themselves to random passers-by in order to experience the ecstasy of the act of union when possessed by a deity. Maybe the puritanical commentators on this custom couldn't imagine women deriving pleasure from such an experience, so they assumed that the women were coerced. Or maybe Ms Harding was trying to put a positive spin on a custom that didn't exist in the first place...
Thanks to Caroline Tully for the information about this book.