A temple servant or slave -- often a temple prostitute. As far back as ancient Babylonia prostitution was not only legal, but often run by the local government or a religious temple. Both the epic of Gilgamesh and the Code of Hammurabi have references to hierodules.

In the book of Deuteronomy -- in the Old Testament -- the admonitions quoted by conservatives against homosexuals are better translated as against hierodules -- or temple holy men or holy women.

In ancient Greece there were three officially recognized classes of prostitutes: the dicteriades, auletrides, and hetairae. These corresponded to the lower, middle, and upper classes. The most famous and powerful of these prostitutes were Lamia and Aspasia -- each of whom became, through their lovers, the unofficial rulers of Athens.

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