A Taste of the Ancient World: Symposium
c. 500 BC
Youth crushing grapes
Detail of KM 70.1.1
'Drink and be merry!' Participants in a Greek drinking party, or symposium,
would use this awkward-looking (to us) form of drinking cup. As you drank,
a youth would gradually emerge at the cup's bottom, crushing grapes before
your very eyes. The kylix was also used in Greek drinking games, such as
kottabos, where wine dregs were flung at a target. Much Greek pottery
was exported to Italy, since the Etruscans were avid symposium participants.
c. 475 BC
Attributed to the famous 'Berlin Painter', this amphora shows a young
warrior and a woman pouring libations - offering the gods wine by spilling
it onto the earth. He holds a phiale; she
pours from a oinochoe. Libations were made for many
purposes. In this case, either the gods are being asked to protect the young
warrior as he goes off to defend his city, or perhaps they are being thanked
for his safe return.
Bay of Naples, Italy
This oinochoe, or wine pitcher, shows the spread of Greek drinking practices
to the Italian peninsula. It is simply decorated with vertical ribbing on
its body and a trefoil-shaped pouring lip. A vessel of similar shape is
held by the woman on the Nolan Amphora above. In addition to ceramics, pitchers
were often made of valuable metals and glass.
end of the 6th century BC
A wild party is in progress here. Dionysos, god of wine and ecstasy, feasts
while his female followers, or maenads, accompany him. Lekythoi were most
commonly used as oil flasks or perfume vessels. The narrow neck allowed
for careful pouring and slow evaporation of the vessel's contents.
Bronze wine ladel with handle in the shape of a duck
Bronze wine ladel
These polished and decorated bronze utensils are good evidence for luxurious
dining rituals in antiquity. The ladles were used to serve wine at banquets,
or for making libations (offerings) of wine to the gods on sacrificial occasions.
The delicate spoon, manufactured by soldering separate pieces together,
would have been used for stirring, measuring, and eating.
Go on to Fishy Matters.