Prostitution was popular and common in Ancient Rome. Although Ancient Romans frequented brothels, early laws put into place by the Republic treated prostitutes as lowly individuals which caused the people of Rome to view them negatively. Eventually, the Republic changed the laws and consequently the views on prostitutes. Later laws essentially legitimized prostitution by allowing them to avoid fines for illicit sexual activities and eventually placed a tax on prostitution much like that on the regular businesses of the time. These shifts in the way prostitutes were treated legally allowed for a large shift in public perception of them as well. By taxing prostitution, the Republic allowed the people of Rome to shift their view of sex workers from lesser beings to legitimate businessmen/ businesswomen.
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"The Social Effect the Law had on Prostitutes in Ancient Rome,"
Grand Valley Journal of History: Vol. 3
, Article 4.
Available at: http://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/gvjh/vol3/iss2/4