The ancient Hellenic writers were dedicated historians, but they often neglected to mention the achievements of ancient Hellenic women. Now it so happens that I am a woman and I quite like having a few female heroes to look up to, so I want to introduce you to them. Today: Philaenis of Samos, a female writer best known for writing about lesbian sex.

Philaenis of Samos (Φιλαινίς) was an Hellenic hetaira--a female companion, a term used non-sexually for women, about women, but used by men to indicate a woman hired for entertainment, often leading to sex--of the 4th or 3rd centuries BC. She became famous for writing a manual on lesbian sexual positions and the proper etiquette for courting a member of the same or opposite sex.

Her work is said to have covered the best sexual positions, perfumes, cosmetics, means of inducing abortions, the art of kissing, and the art of seduction, including how to make successful passes. Written in the style of The Histories of Herodotus - a kind of History of Sex - her book was very popular and widely read even though people seem to have publicly condemned it. Their disapproval had less to do with the subject matter than that a woman would had written it. Her work no longer survives but is cited by later authors.

'Philaenis' is most likely a pseudonym to disguise the dentity of the true author of the work, who is unknown. 'Philaenis' is the female diminutive of the Greek word for chosen love and seems to have been a name commonly used by them.
By the way, the term 'lesbian' to denote a homosexual woman did not exist in ancient times and only originates later when people began to identify homosexual women with Sappho of the island of Lesbos because of her intimate female-oriented love poems. In Philaenis' time, a gay woman was known as a 'tribad', from the word 'tribo' meaning 'to rub'. Use your imagination for that one.