About this artwork
The Greek Symposium
The modern symposium is an academic gathering where people discuss a topic of common interest, debunking old theories and putting forth new hypotheses. Afterward the participants might continue the conversation, discussing their impressions in greater detail or simply socializing over a drink. The men of ancient Athens did the same, regularly coming together in a private home to exchange ideas. The vases displayed in this case were used to prepare, serve, and consume wine at such gatherings. As the evening progressed, participants engaged in other pleasures, including games, performances, and sex.
It was considered uncivilized for a Greek to consume undiluted wine, so water was fetched from a public fountain house in a jar like this example. The horizontal handles were used to carry the vase, which was quite heavy when full, and the vertical handle at the back was used to pour the water.
- Ancient Greek
- Hydria (Water Jar)
- 515 BC–500 BC
- terracotta, decorated in the black-figure technique
- kalo[s]p[u]this – Pythis [is] beautiful.
- 50.1 × 35 cm (19 3/4 × 13 3/4 in.)
- Gift of Philip D. Armour and Charles L. Hutchinson