“Often, rhapsodes are depicted in Greek art, wearing their signature cloak and carrying a staff. This equipment is also characteristic of travellers in general, implying that rhapsodes were itinerant performers, moving from town to town. […]
The word rhapsōidos was in use as early as Pindar (522–443 BC), who implies two different explanations of it, “singer of stitched verse”, and “singer with the staff”. Of these the first is etymologically correct; the second was suggested by the fact, for which there is early evidence, that the singer was accustomed to hold a staff (ῥάβδος rhabdos) in his hand, perhaps, like the sceptre in the Homeric assembly, as a symbol of the right to a hearing or to “emphasize the rhythm or to give grandeur to their gestures”.
- Aoidos (Wikipedia)
There was, however, certainly a profession of aoidos. Eumaeus, a character in the Odyssey, says that singers (aoidoi), healers, seers and craftsmen are likely to be welcomed as guests, while beggars are not;