Mastoid (Drinking Cup)

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.


about 500/480 BC


Attributed to the Leafless Group
Greek; Athens

About this artwork

This cup was shaped to fit easily in the dirnkers hand, and 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, the god of wine Dionysos rides astride a donkey. Before and behind him satyrs - the gods half man half goat companions - are visually aroused by the scene; while a Maenad - their female counterpart - leads the procession while strumming a lyre. The background of this scene is decorated with winding vines, enforcing the themes of wine, revelry and music.

Currently Off View

Ancient and Byzantine Art


Leafless Group


Mastoid (Drinking Cup)




500 BC–480 BC


terracotta, decorated in the black-figure technique


9.2 × 10.8 × 10.8 cm (3 5/8 × 4 1/4 × 4 1/4 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Philip D. Armour and Charles L. Hutchinson

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

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