Giovanni Boccaccio, Famous Women: Flora (Part I)
“Antiquity seems to attest to the fact that Flora was a Roman woman, whose dishonorable business detracted as much from her dignity as fortune favorably increased her reputation.
She was, as everyone asserts, an extremely rich woman, but they differ concerning her acquisition of this wealth. For some say that she consumed all of the flower of her youth and corporeal beauty among the brothels, pimps, and degenerate young men of her day, and that she would defraud, cheat, and swindle this and that stolid man with her sports and flatteries until she had accumulated those ample riches.
Others however, judging a bit more honestly, relate a pleasant and ridiculous story about her, saying that the custodian of a temple of Hercules in Rome was playing with dice with alternate hands, such that he declared the right hand to play for Hercules, the left hand for himself. They say that the wager was that if Hercules were overcome, the custodian would get a dinner and a girlfriend at the temple’s expense, but if Hercules won, then he would have to provide those things to Hercules from his own account. When Hercules won (indeed, he was in the habit of defeating even monsters), they say that they prepared a dinner for him, and purchased the services of the noble prostitute Flora. When Flora was sleeping in the temple, she had a dream that she slept with Hercules and that he told her that she would receive her fee for the sex from the person whom she encountered when leaving the temple in the morning. Exiting the temple, she then ran into Fanitius, a rich youth, who loved her and took her as a wife. After living with him for a long time, she was left as his heir upon his death, and thus she became rich.
Indeed, there are those who say that this was not Flora, but rather Acca Larentia, who had either nursed Romulus and Remus, or nursed them later. To be sure, I don’t care about this discrepancy, as long as we understand that Flora was a prostitute and rich.”
Floram romanam fuisse mulierem testari videtur antiquitas: cui quantum decoris ignominiosus questus subtraxit, tantum fame fortuna fautrix ausit.
Hec autem, ut omnes asserunt, ditissima fuit mulier. sed de questu divitiarum discrepant. Nam alii dicunt hanc omnem iuventutis sue ac formositatis corporee florem, inter fornices et lenones scelestosque iuvenes, meretricio publico consumpsisse; et nunc hos, nunc illos stolidos lasciviis blanditiisque — ut talium moris est — substantiarum denudans et undique corradens et excerpens, in eas tam amplissimas devenisse divitias.
Alii vero, honestius arbitrati, lepidam et ridiculam ex ea referunt hystoriam, asserentes Rome edituum Herculis ociosum tesseris ludum inchoasse manibus alternis, quarum cum Herculi dextram statuisset, et sinistram sibi, dicunt fecisse periculum ut, si vinceretur Hercules, ipse sibi de stipe templi cenam et amicam pararet; si vero Hercules victor evaderet, tune illi de pecunia propria illud idem facturum se dixit. Verum cum vicisset Hercules, monstra etiam solitus superare, ei cenam et nobilem meretricem Floram preparasse confirmant. Cui dormienti in templo visum aiunt cum Hercule concubuisse eique ab eodem dictum se suscepturam mercedem concubitus ab eo quem, primo mane, templum exiens, inveniret. Que cum Fanitio, ditissimo iuveni, templum exiens occurrisset, ab eo amata atque deducta est; et, cum secum fuisset diu, ab eodem moriente heres relicta; et sic ditata.
Verum sunt qui dicant hanc non Floram, sed Accam Laurentiam fuisse, que Romulum Remumque seu nutriverat, seu nutrivit postea. Sane huius discordantie ego non curo, dum modo constet Floram meretricem et divitem extitisse.