Godliness and Work by Jodel Williams

In Casson’s article, he insinuates that the reason for the stagnated technological development was not a lack of resources or intelligence, but simply a prejudice against the idea of manual labor. The Greeks and Romans bias was not dispelled until Christianity rose in popularity and the people became more open to modern technology. This shift in beliefs allowed the Greeks and Romans to begin making more practical inventions that would¬† improve their daily lives.

The Greeks and Romans were cognizant of the benefits that would be available to them if they chose to implement the uses of water, and steam energy, but still chose to create simplistic inventions that did not showcase their intelligence to the fullest extent. Casson writes in his article that the reason for this was the depictions of the gods during their time. The god of music Apollo was perceived as handsome by the Greeks while the god of the forge Hephaestus was ugly, crippled, and calloused. Hephaestus was made into a laughingstock by the other gods which in turn dissuaded the Greeks and Romans from having anything to do with manual labor.

When the Christians began influencing the Greeks and Romans, their ideologies were adopted as well. Christians valued hard labor and even saw it as an act of worship.¬† Craftsmen were previously seen as the bottom of the barrel in society, but with society’s newfound respect for craftsmanship they were now a part of society and no longer treated with disdain. Technology such as windmills and water wells were now present in communities all over the empire.

Once the stigma against craftsmanship had been lifted, the Greeks and Romans were able to indulge in the same technological developments that other empires were experiencing. Ancient Greek culture painted workers in a bad light and labeled as aberrant citizens who were wasting their time. The Greeks and Romans had the intelligence as well as ample resources to be able to move ahead in technology, but instead let fables from the past hinder their growth. Luckily, they did not hold on to their skewed definition of success and began to make the most out of the opportunities presented to them.

2 Replies to “Godliness and Work by Jodel Williams”

  1. Very interesting article and good writing! I knew that crafts,en were at the bottom of the social structure, but honestly had no idea that it was because of the mythology. Which was unfortunate for them, considering that they contributed a lot towards society. Anyways, good work!

  2. Your summary of this article is very interesting. Christianity was the main driving force that pressured individuals into participating in manual labor. However, the early Romans and Greeks also didn’t desire technological advancements because of slavery. The upper-class individuals tended to see their slaves as their machines (i.e. property or tools), thus making the slaves’ jobs easier wasn’t a thought in most minds.
    I did not know about the god of the forge, Hephaestus, being depicted in such a way as to disgust the craftsmanship enterprise. Very interesting.

    Great summary!
    Corwin W.

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