By Shunichi Akasaka
Bulletin of Saitama Gakuen University, Vol. 10 (2010)
Introduction: In former times history was taken as a precept. According to the Bible where we can find the phrase “there is nothing new under the sun”, people were and are the same anywhere at anytime, and if we study about the people who lived in the past, we can gain wisdom of what to do now and in the future. Past historians said it was history that enabled them to forecast the future by studying the past. But recently such an idea has been abandoned at least in academia. Now the learned know that people who live in different places and in different times are different. Present historians insist that even the mentality of people which was taken as changeless in anyplace and at anytime is different in another place or time. For example, Philippe Ariès maintained that mankind’s attitude to death, which has been taken to be universal (all people have feared death!), has changed gradually even in the same place. But even now many people believe the meaning of prostitution is the same from the past to the present and they say it was the oldest profession as if the concept of prostitution were not changeless. They argue that what was meant by prostitution in the ancient times, for example in imperial Rome, was the same as what is meant by prostitution now. If they are right, the new historical perspective is wrong. For according to the new historical perspective cultures change from place to place and from time to time. Or should we think that the sexuality of human beings is an exception and has no relation to culture? I will try to examine prostitution historically by answering these questions in this essay.