The Aesthetics of the Greek Banquet: Images of Wine and Ritual (Princeton Legacy Library)
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In deepening our understanding of the symposium in ancient Greece, this book embodies the wit and play of the images it explains: those decorating Athenian drinking vessels from the sixth and fifth centuries B.C. The vases used at banquets often depict the actual drinkers who commissioned their production and convey the flowing together of wine, poetry, music, games, flirtation, and other elements that formed the complex structure of the banquet itself. A close reading of the objects handled by drinkers in the images reveals various metaphors, particularly that of wine as sea, all expressing a wide range of attitudes toward an ambiguous substance that brings cheer but may also cause harm.
Not only does this work offer an anthropological view of ancient Greece, but it explores a precise iconographic system. In so doing it will encourage and enrich further reflection on the role of the image in a given culture.
Originally published in 1990.
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another satyr draws a drink from the krater (fig. 24, bottom). In a striking break with tradition, however, the cup bearer is not standing upright; he is creeping toward the krater, and there is no guarantee that he will hand out the wine without trying to keep some for himself (see also fig. 20). In another painting a satyr is emptying the contents of a wineskin into a garlanded krater;34 no water is in evidence (fig. 25). Several inscriptions explain what is happening. In front of the satyr's
remarkable evidence for this point of view (fig. 82).28 It shows a young ephebe whirling to the music of a flute. He is carrying the peltast's light shield (see fig. 58) and, spear in hand, performs the armed dance called the pyrrbikhe, which was part of certain ritual occasions.29 The ephebe's shield device seems to refer to this festal atmosphere; it shows a person dancing, as at a symposion, with a large krater at his feet. The shield's surface thus conveys the values of the banquet, of which
Dionysus punishes Pentheus for his refusal to believe in and accept the god; in the comic adventure of the Agrigentine youths, Dionysus transforms the banquet hall into a ship lost at sea. Though no real metamorphosis has taken place, Dionysus capitalizes on the power of metaphors; he strikes the young men with madness—mania—so that thereafter they are unable to per ceive reality and remain locked into their delusion. The game lasts throughout the story, without a return to normalcy, until the
based on Chuzeville photograph. 6 1 . Adria B 4 7 1 ; based on CVA, pi. 762. Paris, Louvre G 7 3 ; based on Chuzeville photograph. 63. Tubingen S/10 1 3 4 5 (E 54); based on Watzinger, pl. 25. 64. Berlin 2267; based on Hoppin 1 , 149. 65. Boston 0 1 . 8 0 2 4 ; based on Hartwig, pl. 5. 66. Paris, Louvre Cp 1 1 0 7 2 ; based on Chuzeville photograph. 67. Berlin 2 4 1 6 ; based on Annali 1 8 7 6 , pi. M. 80. New York 7 5 . 2 . 2 7 (GR593); based on Richter-Hall, pi. 152. 8 1 . Berlin 2290; museum
Praise that man who even in his cups can show forth goodly thoughts, according as memory serves him and his zeal for virtue is at full stretch. In no wise is it good to relate the fights of Titans and Gi ants nor of Centaurs, the fictions of men aforetime, or their violent factions, in which there is nought that is wholesome; but it is good ever to have regard for the gods.16 This long fragment, quoted by Athenaeus, is essentially pro grammatic. Xenophanes explains the rules for a proper