A City of "Wealth and Immorality"
Not unexpectedly, Corinth became notorious for luxurious and debauched living. Although virtually every pagan deity had a cult following in Corinth (archaeologists have discovered temples devoted to Neptune, Apollo, Venus, Octavia, Asclepius, Demeter, Core, and Poseidon, among others), its chief shrine was the temple of Aphrodite (the Greek goddess of love and life), where as many as 1,000 temple prostitutes were reported to have conducted their business. Sexual perversion and immorality of every conceivable (and some inconceivable) sort was rampant. “Because of the luxury and vice of Corinth the word 'corinthianize' . . . (i.e., to fornicate) was coined as an infamous sign of the wealth and immorality for which the city was renowned in the ancient world” (R. Martin).
As noted, Corinth's reputation is notorious. Among other things, archaeologists have discovered there clay representations of human genitals that were offered to Asclepius, the god of healing. Evidently, the hope was that that part of the body, suffering from venereal disease, would be healed. However, it is important to point out that Corinth's reputation comes from what we know it to have been like prior to its devastation in 146 b.c. Thus we should be careful “not to read the old city's character into the new city. . . . [Nevertheless], traditions like that die hard, and as a great port city it is unlikely that new Corinth established a reputation for moral probity (see 1 Cor. 6:12ff.)” (Carson, Moo, Morris, 263).
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