Legendary Courtesans That The World Has Ever Seen


Many people would think that courtesan is just a fancy name for prostitute. But the truth is that not just any girl can rise up to the fame and glory that some women acquired in history by practicing this old trade. It doesn’t take just beauty or personality to get your name engraved in the history books, you have to have a combination of the two as well as a fair amount of luck and talent. Here are some of the ladies who could teach girls nowadays a thing or two about the power of seduction.


Starting chronologically, Aspasia is the first name on the list and one of the most famous women in Antiquity. She lived in Athens and belonged to a special class of women, the hetaeras, who were professional entertainers for the high society. Due to her beauty and her conversation skills she became the mistress of Pericles, a famous and powerful statesman. Although she didn’t lead exactly the model life for a woman, it is said that men would often bring their wives to hear her speak.

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Theodora I

Wife of the byzantine emperor Justinian I, she had a very tumultuous destiny that brought her from being a common prostitute in a cheap brothel in Constantinople to be made empress and ultimately a saint. She was famous from a young age for her acting abilities and the orgies she participated in.

After a four-year affair with a Syrian general, abandoned and poor, she turned to Christianity and repented for her former way of life. She retained nonetheless her appeal and charming character, just enough to make an emperor fall in love with her and brake the law by marrying her and making her a queen.

Veronica Franco

Being the daughter of another courtesan, she had the possibility to learn the trade from her mother. She married in her early teens, but the marriage wasn’t successful so she turned to her charms in order to win her existence. She rose rapidly to the rank of one of the best courtesans of her day and she shared the bed of many notable and wealthy men.

She was very well educated and published books of letters and poetry. She also founded a charity for courtesans and successfully defended herself against a witchcraft trial. She lost most of her possessions during the plague when she had to retire to the countryside and many of her benefactors died, so she died in relative poverty.

Mata Hari

Her real name was Margaretha Geertruida Zelle and she was born in the Netherlands. At 18 she married a Colonial Army Captain and moved to Indonesia where she studied the local customs and dances. The marriage was a failure and after the separation she moved to Paris where she became famous as an exotic dancer, bringing dancing closer to striptease, as well as for her promiscuous lifestyle.

She entertained many powerful men and she was renowned for her sensuality and erotic skills more than for her actual beauty. During World War I she was trialed for treason and executed although no real evidence was found against her.

Marilyn Monroe

Here is a name that needs no introduction. Although she is now recognized for her work as an actress, model and singer, it is well known that she started her career as a high class prostitute and worked her way up to the sex symbol status she is famous for. She was married three times and her life ended under mysterious circumstances, proving she had led a life in no way ordinary.

There are many other names to be added to this list and the internet is yours for the searching. I’m not advocating for prostitution, but here is the living proof that if you are a prostitute you don’t have to worry about leaving the rest of your life in shame. You might as well become an empress or a sex symbol.

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