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.
- Currently Off View
- Arts of the Ancient Mediterranean and Byzantium
- Ancient Greek
- Mastoid (Drinking Cup) with Handles
- 500 BCE–450 BCE
- terracotta, decorated in the black-figure technique
- 9.5 × 16.5 × 10.1 cm (3 3/4 × 6 1/2 × 4 in.)
- Gift of Philip D. Armour and Charles L. Hutchinson