Saturday, September 15, 2007

whores and books

In Ephesus one of the favorite stories of the tour guides (comparing notes with friends who were on different tours we all heard this one) concerns the best preserved architeture in the ruins, the town library. The two story facade is still intact and you can walk into the library room behind and read inscriptions on the wall. Here's a great website with a 360 degree photo. As we stood in the square in front of the library the tour guide pointed out that the town brothel had stood on the opposite side of the square partly up the hill - Ephesus was a port town after all. And the tour guide also told us that the archaeologists had discovered a tunnel in the floor of the library that led under the square and emerged in the brothel.

Her assumption was that townsmen would tell their wives they were going to the library, disappear inside and then spend the afternoon at the brothel, and then come back through the tunnel to come out from the library.

That's probably the accurate story but it occured to me that tunnels run both ways. Perhaps it was the whores in the brothel who made use of the tunnel to spend an afternoon reading. Or perhaps a young gay man (this was ancient Greece after all) could walk into the brothel to prove his heterosexuality to his friends and then sneak over to the library to spend a more agreeable hour.

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