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To browse Academia. Skip to main content. You're using an out-of-date version of Internet Explorer. Log In Sign Up. Harlots, Tarts, and Hussies? Serena S Witzke. These classes, largely aimed at under- graduates, require clear and accurate translations of the Latin material and a thorough understanding of the types of sex labor in the Roman world.
It is therefore time to reevaluate terminology—to reconsider the kinds of sex labor in the texts, and how they can be understood. There have been studies on Greek sexual vocabulary2 and examinations of the importance of distinctions in the terms for sex labor,3 but these have focused on technical terminology, not the lived realities that the HELIOS, vol.
Few similar studies have been attempted for Latin. Translation of, and scholarship on, sex labor in Latin literature is problematic for two reasons: 1 the limited vocabulary of Latin in these plays does not adequately express the myriad historical situations of sex laborers, which must be gleaned from context; and 2 the English termi- nology frequently used is too fluid and cannot express Roman cultural situations.
When translating either for those not fluent in Latin or for scholarship which is written in their native languages , translators delib- erately take foreign words in ancient contexts and then provide these words with modern approximations that are given meaning through con- temporaneous understanding of those words. When situations involving sex labor are translated, the realities of the laborers are often obscured: euphemisms prejudice readers, moralizing judgments are perpetuated, and lived realities of sex laborers in antiquity are easily glossed over or dismissed.
Meretrix and scortum are most frequent Adams , , while amica is a euphemistic term. Scholars imply a hierarchy of sex labor, with meretrix referring to a free, high-class sex laborer and scor- tum referring to an impoverished sex laborer on the streets.