Echoes Of The Past: Greek Occupations Lost To Time

  • by XpatAthens
  • Friday, 22 March 2024
Echoes Of The Past: Greek Occupations Lost To Time

In the annals of ancient Greek history, a plethora of occupations once thrived, each playing a vital role in the fabric of society. Yet, as time unfurled its ceaseless march, many of these professions faded into obscurity, their legacy preserved only in the pages of history.

Let's take a look at some traditional occupations that have all but disappeared in the wake of modernization.

Newspaper Seller (Εφημεριδοπώλης) 

newspaper seller

In the bustling streets and squares of Greek cities, newspaper sellers were a ubiquitous sight, their voices echoing through the urban landscape as they hawked the day's headlines to passersby. Armed with bundles of newspapers, these vendors provided a vital link between readers and the latest news and information. However, with the rise of digital media and declining print circulation, the role of the newspaper seller has steadily diminished, leaving behind a bygone era of street-level journalism.

Milk Carrier (Γαλατάς)


Before refrigeration became commonplace in Greek households, milk carriers played a crucial role in delivering fresh dairy products to doorsteps each morning. Laden with metal or wooden pails filled with milk, these diligent workers traversed neighborhoods, providing families with a daily supply of this essential staple. However, with the advent of supermarkets and packaged dairy products, the tradition of door-to-door milk delivery has largely disappeared, consigning the milk carrier to the annals of history.

Shoe Polisher (Λούστρος)


Shoe polishers once plied their trade, offering their services to passersby seeking to restore luster to their worn footwear. Armed with brushes, cloths, and pots of polish, these artisans meticulously buffed and shined shoes to a gleaming finish, earning a modest living from their skilled labor. With the decline of traditional cobbling and the rise of disposable footwear, the demand for shoe polishers has dwindled, relegating this once-respected craft to the margins of society.

Laterna Player (Λατερνατζής)


In the twilight hours of Greek evenings, the haunting strains of the laterna once filled the air, captivating listeners with its melancholy melodies and nostalgic tunes. Operated by itinerant musicians known as laternantzides, these portable barrel organs provided entertainment and diversion to audiences gathered in public squares and tavernas. 

Haulier (Αγωγιάτης)

Haulier, or agogiatis in Greek, was a livelihood transporter who utilized pack animals, carts, and even sleds in winter landscapes. They transported everything, from clients as a sort of road itinerary service, to goods and food supplies. Often, they also undertook the transportation of patients, corpses, etc. From the 1920s onwards, with the advent and widespread use of motorized vehicles, αγωγιάτες gradually became marginalized and subsequently faded away.

Ice Seller (Παγoπώλης)

pagopolis 2

In the sweltering summer months, the ice seller was a welcome sight in Greek neighborhoods, providing relief from the oppressive heat with blocks of ice harvested from mountain lakes and rivers. Laden with wooden carts or wagons filled with ice, these intrepid vendors traversed the streets, offering their chilly wares to parched and overheated passersby. With the widespread availability of refrigeration and commercially produced ice, the tradition of artisanal ice harvesting and sales has faded, leaving behind memories of a cooler, simpler time.

Metal Polisher (Γανωτής)


The "ganotis" in Greece was a skilled metal polisher specializing in revitalizing copper utensils. Their expertise lay in restoring the shine and removing corrosion from these items, preserving their beauty and functionality. Through meticulous cleaning and polishing techniques, they transformed dull utensils into gleaming treasures, showcasing their craftsmanship and dedication to preserving Greek heritage.