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Mastoid (Drinking Cup) with Handles

A work made of terracotta, decorated in the black-figure technique.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of terracotta, decorated in the black-figure technique.

Date:

500-480 BCE

Artist:

Attributed to the Manner of the Haimon Painter
Greek; Athens

About this artwork

This handled cup was likely used as part of the Greek symposium. Much like modern academic symposiums, in which people discuss a topic of common interest, debunking old theories and putting forth new hypotheses; the men of ancient Athens regularly got together in private homes to exchange ideas. Afterward the participants might continue the conversation, discussing their impressions in greater detail or simply socializing over a drink. As the evening progressed, participants engaged in other pleasures, including games, performances, and sex.

Wine played a major role in fueling these evenings, and as such the myriad vessels used in the symposium often paid homage to drink. Here Dionysos, the god of wine and theater, is shown riding a donkey who’s exaggerated physical arousal would have appealed to the ancient Greeks’ often bawdy sense of humor. The god is accompanied by his female companions, known as maenads, who were notorious for the kind of ecstatic, freewheeling dances they perform here.

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Ancient and Byzantine Art

Culture

Ancient Greek

Title

Mastoid (Drinking Cup) with Handles

Origin

Athens

Date

500 BCE–450 BCE

Medium

terracotta, decorated in the black-figure technique

Dimensions

9.5 × 16.5 × 10.1 cm (3 3/4 × 6 1/2 × 4 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Philip D. Armour and Charles L. Hutchinson

Reference Number

1889.20

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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