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Krater column with Dionysus (wheel-thrown ceramic), circa 460 BC
Agrigento Painter
Ceramic; wheel-thrown
Centimetres: 46.2 (height), 44.4 (width)
circa 460 BC
Historical; Greek Classical; Attic Red Figure; mid-5th century BC
Area of Origin: Attica; Greece
Area of Use: Tarquinia (Corneto); Italy
The Greek World, third floor
Sigmund Samuel Collection

Description: The Greeks never drank their wine pure; they always mixed it with water, spices, herbs, honey and resin. Water would be brought to the table in a hydria and the wine in an amphora and they would be poured into a large mixing bowl called a krater. The blended wine would then be ladled out into drinking cups.

Our Attic red-figure example of a krater, from c. 460 BC, is appropriately decorated with Dionysus, a satyr (half goat and half man), and a maenad (female devotee). Dionysus was the god of wine, theatre, the fertility of the crops and the netherworld. He became one of the most important deities worshipped and honoured in all the arts.

Dionysus was beneficial and dangerous. In Athens he was a benevolent cultural hero while in Thebes he was violent and vengeful. Just as Dionysus’ persona changed, so did his imagery. During the later Archaic period (550-490 BC) he looked like a dignified elderly man. A century later, during the Classical period he was given the appearance of an ideal young man. During the fourth century BC and the Hellenistic era to 31BC, Dionysus appeared as an effeminate boy and as an infant.

Other Media:
VIDEO: Grecian pot of wine (time: 0.18; 1.24MB); Host: Julian Siggers
Selected segment from the ROM/Discovery Channel series Hidden Treasures as seen on Discovery Channel.

Robinson, Harcum, Illiffe, CGVT no. 364 (pp.176-7, pl.LXIII)
Beazley, ARV(1) 378 no.15: ARV(2) 575
J.D.Beazley, Attische Vasenmaler des rotfigurigen Stils, Tubingen, 1925, 243, no.12

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