The Crafts of the Ancient Craftsmen

An overview of the crafts of the ancient craftsmen from Greece and Rome

Black Figure Attic Cylix With Athena Between 2 Warriors
Black Figure Attic Cylix With Athena Between 2 Warriors. NYPL Digital Library

Ancient craftsmen provided ancient Greece and Rome with goods that weren't easily made in the average home. Among the ancient craftsmen of the Greeks, Homer names builders, carpenters, workers in leather and metal, and potters. In the reforms of the second king of ancient Rome, Plutarch says Numa divided the craftsmen into nine guilds (collegia opificum), the last of which was a catch-all category. The others were:

  1. fluteplayers
  2. goldsmiths
  3. coppersmiths
  4. carpenters
  5. fullers
  6. dyers
  7. potters
  8. shoemakers

Over time, the different types of craftsmen multiplied. Tradesmen became wealthy selling the handiwork of the ancient craftsmen, but in both Greece and Rome, the ancient craftsmen tended to be held in low regard. There may have been many reasons for this, including the fact that many ancient craftsmen were enslaved.

Source: Oskar Seyffert's Dictionary of Classical Antiquity.