We all know
the word prostitute but how many people know what a courtesan
is? It is not a type of ointment that one rubs over something
itchy, that is cortisone and is in no way related. Courtesans
were at the top of the prostitutional hierarchy. They were above
streetwalkers, prostitutes, madams and lorettes. They were the
upper tier and they had very elegant lifestyles.
were basically mistresses. They were supported by wealthy men
who provided them with anything they could ever want. Many such
women lived in a more comfortable way then some of the bourgoisie.
of Edouard Manest, Nana, 1877
(12. for source click here)
For more information and discussion on this painting click
woman of an upper class household would turn to the world of the
courtesan for several different reasons. To begin with, marriage
in the nineteenth century was more of a business deal then an
act of true love. This idea was abhorrent to some women and so,
not wanting to leave the comfort of their lifestyle would simply
turn to a life that would allow them to continue on as they had
without the confines of a husband. Some women chose the life of
a courtesan in order to cultivate their minds which they usually,
were they not independent, were meant to keep dormant.
courtesan basically comes down to this: "a prostitute with a courtly,
wealthy, or upper-class clientele." (Courtesy of the Merriam Webster