The Artists of Dionysus

Did you know that the first international guild/trade union in the western world was a theatrical one? The Artists of Dionysus operated to ensure that traveling actors were granted “freedom of travel, freedom from taxation, and freedom from arrest, should the local authorities seek security for the debt of a fellow countryman of the actor.”1 Also, during the 2nd century B.C., there was a guild of pantomimes and mimes called the Parasites. Labor history in the ancient world!

However, the coolest fact is that the final title of the organization at its end—circa 274/5—was best title of a guild/union ever:

The Sacred Musical Traveling Aurelian World Great Guild of the Artisans of Dionysus, Sacred Crowned Victors, and their Fellow Competitors.2

  1. Eric Csapo & William J. Slater, The Context of Ancient Drama, (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1995), 240. []
  2. Ibid., 242 []