SYMPOSIUM  on Black Figure vases

Ref. Boardman: Athenian Black FigureVases.

1.             Komast Cups; 570. These often show frolicking male dancers who carry drinking horns or cupsand wear tight padded chitons. In Athens the vases may reflect a special dancing costume worn at Symposia. Naked women are often present. Boardman nos. 21/22/23 and example in BM (Gk. /Roman Life Room).

2.             Symposium: Boardman 36; men recline on left elbow ( and cushions usually) on couch which is shown like a cupboard on turned legs; in front is table with "lion's foot" feet and plate of bread and meat portions ( on left )' foot stool below. On wall is lyre ( horn-shaped arms, x marks for string attachments, and tortoise-shell box ), drinking horns and cups.The men are bearded, one has white himation and they converse. This is a Siana cup by the C Painter.

3.         Boardman 177: Eye-Cup in the style of Andocides Painter; 5 people recline around satyr mask in bowl's interior; (a) man holds slipper ( used to add spice to sex) as young boy approaches with oinochoe to fill cup. (b) Woman (no beard) turns to offer a cup to (c) who is white -bearded man holding cantharos (d) Man plays double pipes (e) Man reclines with bowl. There is much added red for drapery, cushions. On walls: lyre, himation. Men wear ivy wreathes or padded head-dress.

4.             Boardman 235; Gela Painter: lekythos shows Ariadne feasting with same head-dress as in no.3 and satyr piping with leopard -skin flute case hanging from penis ( side pocket for mouthpiece ). Not a scene of everyday life, but useful for costumes and appurtenances.

5.             Gugliemi Group: Tyrrhenian Amphora; Boardman 61: Column craters on floor give setting. Bearded men make love to whitened women (i) woman held in arms, legs over man's shoulder (n.b. the ancients believed this was the most flattering position for a girl with good legs). She wears cap (ii) man mounted on woman from behind (iii) standing rear entry with scratching of man's back to increase arousal (iv) woman dances and plays clappers ; man holds BF cup.

6.             Boardman 185. 2 Segment Class Cup: youths dancing with drinking horn, cylix, oinochoe- perhaps in street after party: notice ivy wreath and one's hand on the other's waist.

7.             BM stand for painted amphora (c. 520) Shows garlanded men dancing -old man plays flutes and a crater sits on floor. See in British Museum.

General Notes:

Symposium means" Drinking Together". Such events took place

a) at a sanctuary, as part of a religious festival

b) on civic occasions at an official state dining room

c) in private houses when conversation and merriment were the prime considerations ( which is the most often represented on vases )

The symposium took place in the andron or " men's quarters " of the house. Couches were set around the walls, on which men reclined. The music was provided by guests or hired flautists, lyre-players, cythera-players. Women were hired as skilled entertainers on the flutes or clappers, or as dancers. Female slaves were used to serve wine ( or handsome youths ). NB Ganymede was beautiful youth whom Zeus stole to be his cup-bearer. A free- born citizen's wife was not considered respectable if she was present on such an occasion. The parties frequently developed into orgies or involved riotous behaviour. The party sometimes spilled out onto the streets to form a komos or revel of drunken, music-making youths. Note how this happens in the second act of Aristophanes' play, Wasps.