Prostitutes in ancient Greece wore sandals with imprints that stated “Follow me” on the ground to attract potential clients
“Independent prostitutes who worked the street in ancient Greece were on the next higher level. Besides directly displaying their charms to potential clients they had recourse to publicity; sandals with marked soles have been found which left an imprint that stated ΑΚΟΛΟΥΘΕΙ AKOLOUTHEI (“”Follow me””) on the ground. They also used makeup, apparently quite outrageously. Eubulus, a comic author, offers these courtesans derision:
“”plastered over with layers of white lead, … jowls smeared with mulberry juice. And if you go out on a summer’s day, two rills of inky water flow from your eyes, and the sweat rolling from your cheeks upon your throat makes a vermilion furrow, while the hairs blown about on your faces look grey, they are so full of white lead””.
These prostitutes had various origins: Metic women who could not find other work, poor widows, and older pornai who had succeeded in buying back their freedom (often on credit). In Athens ancient Greece they had to be registered with the city and pay a tax. Some of them made a decent fortune plying their trade. In the 1st century, at Qift in Roman Egypt, passage for prostitutes cost 108 drachma, while other women paid 20.
Their tariffs are difficult to evaluate: they varied significantly. In the 4th century BCE, Theopompus indicated that prostitutes of the second tier demanded a stater and in the 1st century BCE, the Epicurean philosopher Philodemus of Gadara, cited in the Palatine anthology, V 126, mentions a system of subscription of up to five drachma for a dozen visits. In the 2nd century, Lucian in his Dialogue of the Hetaera has the prostitute Ampelis consider five drachma per visit as a mediocre price (8, 3). In the same text a young virgin can demand a Mina, that is 100 drachma (7,3), or even two minas if the customer is less than appetizing. A young and pretty prostitute could charge a higher price than her in-decline colleague; even if, as iconography on ceramics demonstrates, a specific market existed for older women. The price would change if the client demanded exclusivity. Intermediate arrangements also existed; a group of friends could purchase exclusivity, with each having part-time rights.
Musicians and dancers working at male banquets can also undoubtedly be placed in this category. Aristotle, in his Constitution of the Athenians (L, 2) mentions among the specific directions to the ten city controllers (five from within the city and five from the Piraeus), the ἀστυνόμοι astynomoi, that “”it is they who supervise the flute-girls and harp-girls and lyre-girls to prevent their receiving fees of more than two drachmas”” per night. Sexual services were clearly part of the contract, though the price, in spite of the efforts of the astynomoi, tended to increase throughout the period.”