The ‘kantharos’ was a form of Greek drinking vessel, though mostly used for ritualistic consumption of wine, or for pouring libations. On account of this religious significance, the kantharos became a familiar attribute of Dionysus, the god of wine. Perhaps the vine motif on this fine example evokes thoughts not only of wine, but also of the god with which it was most closely associated.
Southern Italy was populated by a large number of Greek colonies from the 8th century BC onwards – so much so that the Romans referred to the area as Magna Graecia – ‘Great Greece’. These Greek colonies were instrumental in bringing Greek culture and thought to Italy, greatly influencing Roman literature, philosophy, and material culture in turn. The city of Gnathia in southern Apulia, for instance, was famed for its pottery, with production of vases, oinochoe, and other wares beginning around 360 – 370 BC. A polychrome palette would then be used to decorate these ceramics, with the colourful paints being applied directly onto the pot’s black glaze – one of the defining traits of Gnathia-ware pottery.
To discover more about Ancient Greek pottery, please visit our relevant blog post:Collecting Ancient Greek Vases.