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PISTOR (ἀπτοποιός), a baker. Both with the Greeks and Romans the bread was originally prepared and baked at home. In large households this practice was long continued. In the Hellenistic period and under the Roman Empire there were numerous slaves skilled as bakers and confectioners (cf. Ath. 3.112 c); and several of the private houses at Pompeii have baking-rooms on the premises (see Overbeck-Mau, Pompeii, 4th ed., pp. 301, 385, Casa di Sallustio; pp. 328 f., 386, Casa di Paus.; p. 343, Casa del Laberinto) There is no mention of the baker's trade in Homer. The flour mentioned in the Homeric poems is of two kinds: coarse barley-flour (ἄλφιτα) and wheat-flour (ἀλείατα = ἄλευρα). It was from the latter that bread was generally made (see Buchholz, Die hom. Realien, ii. pt. 1, p. 108 f.; ii. pt. 2, p. 168 f.; cp. Riedenauer, Handwerk in den horn. Zeiten, § 5). Schliemann (Troja, p. 44; Ilios, pp. 234, 235) appears to assert that grain could not have been made into bread into Homeric times, but it is difficult to see the grounds for such a view. The Homeric words for bread are σῖτος, ἄρτος, and πύρνον (specially wheaten-bread). Ἄρτος seems to signify the baked loaves; σῖτος is a more general term, used e. g. for food in opposition to drink.

At Athens as early as the 5th century B.C. we find working-bakers (ἀρτοκόποι) who sold their wares in the market and streets through female vendors (ἀρτοπώλιδες), who enjoyed a reputation for abusive language (Aristoph. Frogs 858; Vesp. 1389, &c.). At Rome (according to Pliny, Plin. Nat. 18.107) there was no baker's trade till about B.C. 172. Many freedmen are found engaged in the trade, and under the Republic it was one of the duties of the aediles to see that the bread was properly prepared and correct in weight. A bakers' guild (corpus or collegium pistorum), which long existed, was organised by Trajan, and this body, through its connexion with the cura annonae, became of much importance and enjoyed various privileges. There were guilds of pistores and clibanarii at Pompeii (Overbeck-Mau, Pompeii, 4th ed., p. 470). A great increase in the number of bakeries (pistrinae, officinae pistoriae) afterwards took place at Rome, owing probably to the action of Aurelian in introducing a daily distribution of bread instead of the old monthly distribution of grain that had been usual since the time of the Gracchi. This daily distribution also took place at Constantinople. The businesses of the miller and baker were usually combined: cf. Serv. ad Aen. 1.179 (pistores, pinsores, from pinsere, to pound the grain); and authorities in Blümner, Technol. i. p. 16, note.

Confectioners and makers of the finer kinds of bread-stuff are distinguished by various names, as πλακουντοποιός, πεμματουργός, ποπανοποιός, pistores candidarii (Orelli, 4263), siliqutiarii (C. I. L. 6.22), clibanarii (C. I. L. 4.677), (pistor) Persianus (Orelli, 4264; cf. Plin. Nat. 18.105), dulciarii (Mart. 14.222, &c.), libcarii, crustularii (Senec. Ep. 56, 2), fictores (makers of sacrificial cakes), &c. The cakes and confectionery of the pastrycooks had already a literature of their own in antiquity, and are described in Athenaeus, 14.643 e, f, and Pollux, 6.75 if. Some were made specially for religious festivals and sacrifices (see Lobeck, De Graecorum placentis sacris).

A Pompeian painting (Jahn, Abh. der Sächs. Ges. der Wissensch. v. pl. 3 = Baumeister, Denkhmäler, “Bäckerei,” fig. 225) shows us a baker's shop-table or counter, and shelves behind piled with loaves of circular form. The shopman [p. 2.431]sits raised up behind the counter, giving a loaf to a customer. A baker's shop at Pompeii has as its sign a relief of a mill turned by a mule (Overbeck-Mau, op. cit., p. 379, fig. 186). The plan of a bakery at Pompeii is given in Overbeck-Mau, op. cit., p. 386, fig. 189 (cf. also the view, ib. p. 385, fig. 188). The working-rooms are there situated in the back part of a tolerably large building. Four large mills have been found there, and on the right is the oven, connected with two rooms, in one of which the kneading of the dough probably took place. Other rooms in the house are shops, sleeping-apartments, &c.

Wheat was the grain chiefly used for bread by the Greeks and Romans. Barley was also used, but at Rome barley-bread (pants hordeaceus) was the food only of slaves, soldiers, and barbarians (cf. Plin. Nat. 18.74). Spelt (ζειά, far) was also sometimes used for bread, especially by the Romans at an early period A coarse bread was made from alica, a kind of spelt (corresponding to the Greek χόνδρος), which was grown in Verona, Campania, and many parts of Italy (cf. Plin. Nat. 18.106). Rye (secale) was considered unwholesome by the Romans.

As with us, several kinds of flour were produced from the same grain, differing according to the action of the mill and the use of sieves (κύσκινα, κρησέραι, ξριβρα of greater or less fineness. Bread made of pure and finely sifted wheat-flour was, called by the Greeks ἀλευρίτης, γυρίτης, κρησερίτης, &c., and was described as “white” bread (λευκός, καθαρός). By the Romans the bread made of pure wheat-flour (simila, similago) was called panis siligineus. If the bran was mixed with the wheat-flour, the bread was called by the Greeks συγκομιστός, αὐτόπυρος, πύρνον (or πιτυρίας = bread of bran only), and was spoken of as ἀκάθαρτος, ῥυπαρός &c. By the Romans, bread made of coarse flour or of flour with the bran was called panis cibarius, plebeius, castrensis, sordidus, rusticus, secundus, furfureus, &c.

The dough was prepared by moistening the flour with water (Senec. Ep. 90, &c.), by adding salt, and by careful kneading (μάττω, φυράω, subigo, depso) in a kneading-trough (μάκτρα, μαγίς σκάφη, κάρδοπος, alveus), which was generally made of wood, but sometimes of stone or pottery (Phot. p. 243, 17, s. v. μακτρα). The kneading seems usually to have been done with the hand, though from some monumental representations (see Blümner, Technol. i. p. 63) it would appear that a simple machine worked by men or by an animal was sometimes used for the work.

Both fermented and unfermented bread were known to the ancients, but the fermented was the kind usually made. The leaven (ζύμη, ζύμωμα, fermentum) for mixing with the dough was produced in several ways (see Plin. Nat. 18.102, &c.). If required in small quantities for immediate use, it was prepared from cakes of barley and water which were roasted on the hearth, and then put in covered vessels till the fermentation took place; or, the baked dough from the previous day's baking was taken and kneaded with salt, and a decoction made from it, which was allowed to stand till it became fermented, Leaven in large quantities, which could be kept for a year, was made during the vintage time by kneading millet with must, or by kneading wheat-bran with must and drying it in the sun. The dough when prepared was placed on a board and shaped, generally with the hand, but sometimes in moulds (artoptae). It was then by means of a shovel (pala) placed in the oven (ἰπνός, furnus: for the shape cf. an oven at Pompeii, Overbeck-Maun, 4th ed., fig. 192; Blümner, Technol. 1.65, 66). The dough was occasionally baked on the hearth among the embers, or on a spit; or it was sometimes placed in a vessel (κλίβανος or κρίβανος), usually of pottery, provided with a cover and pierced with small holes. Hot embers were then heaped up round it till the heat penetrated.

The loaves of the Greeks and Romans were usually flat, circular, and indented into four or more parts (ἄτρος βλωμιαῖος, τετράτρνφος,

Loaves found at Pompeii.

panis qsuadratus). Loaves were also made in other forms, such as cubes (κύβοι). The shape of the Roman loaf is well known to us from the Pompeian paintings, and from actual specimens discovered at Pompeii (Baumeister, Denkmäler, “Bäckerei,” fig. 225; Overbeck-Mau, op. cit., p. 385).

A representation of the bread-making processes is to be found on the relief of the tombstone of Eurysaces, a large baker at Rome of the Augustan period or earlier (Monum. d. Inst. 2.58; 0. Jahn, Annali, x. p. 231 if.; C. I. L. i. n. 1013-1017). Here is shown the grinding of the corn, the sifting of the flour, the kneading and shaping of the dough, the depositing of the dough in the oven, and finally the bringing out of the loaves in baskets to be weighed.

Authorities.--Full references to the ancient authorities are given in an excellent chapter of Blümner's Technologie, 1.1 if.; see also Mommsen-Marquardt, Handbuch der röm. Alt. vii. p. 398 ff, and Blümner, art. “Bäckerei” in Baumeister's Denkmäler.

[W--K W--H.]

hide References (7 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (7):
    • Aristophanes, Frogs, 858
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 18.74
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 18.102
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 18.105
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 18.106
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 18.107
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 14.222
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