The “Craftsmen of Dionysus”


In ancient times, music, poetry and the theatre served to worship the gods, particularly Dionysus. Therefore, those involved in these arts were known as the “Craftsmen of Dionysus”. With the passage of time, the link to religion waned. In the early 3rd century BC, professional musicians, poets, actors, dancers, chorus members, stage technicians and other related artists were conscientious trade unionists, organized in professional groups known as the Koina (guilds) of Craftsmen of Dionysus.

The sophisticated Amvrakia of the Hellenistic Period had its own “Craftsmen of Dionysus”. Literary sources and inscriptions carry some of their names to the present day. Comic playwrights such as Damotimus, Epitimus, Philon and Epicratis entertained them with their works; actors such as Hippasus and dancers like Heraclides charmed them with their performance; and musicians such as the kitharode (lyre player) Xenocrates and the aulete (flute player) Nikoklas moved them with the sound of their instruments.