“Sculptors in Ancient Rome,” Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, 1877, WikiArt.

Tap, tap, my day began, small hammer and
Chisel, more like old nail, collecting marble
Bits and pieces from temple building sites,
Carving animal figurines, exotic faces I, Thia,
Called them my “creations,” presents given
or sold, few coins to buy used or broken tools,
Fist size chucks of marble. Nuisance around
Scaffolds, I was chased away, master sculptor
Kallon, whilst collecting marble in my gown,
Small faces I imagined, lying on the ground.

“Not today, Thia,” he shouted, carving coveted
Pentalic marble, honey colour sun-glowing, my
creations came to life, basking in warm light.
Lo! Accident we heard, crashing wood frame,
Agéd Kallon lay dead, crushed by marble slab.
Grieved by aristocrats and family, I attended
First funeral, one of mourners in procession,
Fellow artisans and their families from distant
Villages and towns.

To see Kallon’s face and hands one last time,
I stepped forward, wayward girl amongst
Somber crowd. Alas! Clay-coloured, Kallon
Did not look himself, death’s half-brother
Linen-covered, flower adorned, coins in bowls
For his widow, sons gone to wars. So moved
Was I, dizzy from our memories, chisel and
Hammer watched for hours, brat always under
Foot whilst he fashioned figures for vestibules,
Corinthian and Ionic column-tops.

I placed my coin in his sturdy hand, Ferryman’s
Fee, crossing River Styx. “Who will replace him?”
Tearful voices asked. “Who will provide for his
Widow, sons serving or lost in foreign wars.”
Rush of warmth filled me, new breath into my
Lungs, I felt strange presence, old Kallon visiting
Body of this girl. “Who will place torch to funeral
Pyre?” His widow, like scaffolding, had collapsed
From weary years and grief.

“Woman with an Urn,” Gustave Boulanger, WikiArt.

Pushed from within, I stepped forward, my right
Hand raised high. “I, Thia, will replace Kallon,
I will set pyre ablaze. These things he has told
Me, to continue in his stead.” At his urging, I
Repeated Kallon’s oft spoken words, “Marble
And I are one. By these hands and tools, I release
What stone conceals.” By faces of on-lookers, they
Doubted not, nor believed. Yet, I am young woman
On scaffold, completing Kallon’s work in Pentalic
Marble before his fall, my guide never far away.

Perhaps in Greek or Roman antiquity, women worked as skilled
artisans, jobs 
traditionally held by men, specially during times
of war. Thanks for reading. 

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