The hetairae were the professional courtesans and high-ranking prostitutes of ancient Greece, prized for their intellect and charm as well as for their beauty and sexual favours. Of all the women in ancient Greece, they alone were allowed to join men at drinking parties known as symposia.
Hetaerae appear to have been regarded as distinct from pornê, or simple prostitutes, and also distinguished from mistresses or wives.
Highly educated in music, poetry, philosophy, and current events, hetairae were independent and oftentimes influential women whose opinions and beliefs were respected by men. One had to court the favours of the hetairae, whose company was in great demand.