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Mastoid (Drinking Cup) with Handles

A work made of terracotta, black-figure.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of terracotta, black-figure.


500-480 BCE


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.


Currently Off View


Arts of the Ancient Mediterranean and Byzantium


Ancient Greek


Mastoid (Drinking Cup) with Handles


Athens (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

500 BCE–450 BCE


terracotta, black-figure


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


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Extended information about this artwork

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