Sexual Exploitation in the Ancient World: Prostitution and Rape CLASSIC4074

  • Academic Session: 2019-20
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

This course examines cases of sexual exploitation of men and women in antiquity: it discusses male and female prostitution in Greece and Rome, from the poor streetwalker to the cultured and powerful courtesans, as well as cases of sexual violence against men and women. It aims to cover a wide range of texts, such as lyric poetry, love elegy, oratory and comedy, as well as vase iconography, graffiti, frescoes, and archaeological data, in order to help the students develop an understanding of the political, social, and legal implications of prostitution and rape in the ancient societies of Greece and Rome.


2x1hr sessions per week over 10 weeks as scheduled on MyCampus. This is one of the Honours options in Classics and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus.

Requirements of Entry

Available to all students fulfilling requirements for Honours entry into Classics, Ancient History, Greek or Latin, and by arrangement to visiting students or students of other Honours programmes who qualify under the University's 25% regulation.

Excluded Courses



■ Essay (3,500 words): 60%

■ Seminar presentation (15 minutes): 40%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course will provide the opportunity to:

■ become acquainted with the various forms of sexual assault and prostitution in Greece and Rome

■ investigate the social position and legal status of the male and female prostitutes in Greece and Rome

■ reflect upon the political, social and legal implications of non-consensual sexual intercourse in antiquity

■ analyse key sources, textual and archaeological, for the study of ancient prostitution and rape

■ explore how ancient writers created and manipulated images of the prostitute for social and political purposes

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to: 

■ identify the various types of prostitutes and their place in the public life of Greece and Rome

■ define the concept of rape and identify a range of aspects of rape and sexual violence in antiquity

■ assess the social, political and legal role of prostitution and rape in the ancient communities

■ critically discuss the construction of prostitution and its political ramifications

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.