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Bill Thayer

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 p921  Pistor

Unsigned article on p921 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

PISTOR (ἀρτοποιός), a baker, from pinsere to pound, since corna was pounded in mortars before the invention of mills. [Mola.] At Rome bread was originally made at home by the women of the house; and there were no persons at Rome who made baking a trade, or any slaves specially kept for this purpose in private houses, till B.C. 173 (Plin. H. N. XVIII.11 s28). In Varro's time, however, good bakers were highly prized, and great sums were paid for slaves who excelled in this art (Gell. XV.19). The name was not confined to those who made bread only, but was also given to pastry-cooks and confectioners, in which case however they were usually called pistores dulciarii or candidarii (Mart. XIV.222, Orelli, Inscr. n4263). The bakers at Rome, like most other tradespeople, formed a collegium (Dig. 3 tit. 4 s1; 27 tit. 1 s46).

Bread was often baked in moulds called artoptae, and the loaves thus baked were termed artopticii (Plin. H. N. XVIII.11 s27, 28; Plaut. Aulul. II.9.4). In one of the bakehouses discovered at Pompeii, several loaves have been found apparently baked in moulds, which may therefore be regarded as artopticii; they are represented below. They are flat and about eight inches in diameter.

[image ALT: An engraving of four circular loaves of bread scored in eight equal wedges. It is a depiction of Roman bread from a fresco in Pompeii.]

Bread was not generally made at home at Athens, but was sold in the market-place chiefly by women, called ἀρτοπώλιδες (cf. Aristoph. Vesp. 1389, &c.). These women seem to have been what the fish-women of London are at present; they excelled in abuse, whence Aristophanes (Ran. 856) says, λοιδορεῖσθαι ὥσπερ ἀρτοπώλιδας (Becker, Charikles, vol. I p284).

Thayer's Note:

a corn: The American reader is reminded that "corn" in British English means any kind of grain: usually wheat. What we Americans call "corn", they call "maize"; it's a New World plant that the Greeks and Romans did not know.

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Page updated: 12 Oct 06