This blackware guttos would have been used to refill an oil lamp, as well as providing decoration to a table. It was manufactured by a Greek community in Southern Italy – an area 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 pottery from the area is easily recognisable by its lustrous black glaze.
The Greek god Apollo was considered the epitome of youthful masculinity, and was always depicted as beardless, athletic, and handsome. He was one of the most complex and important gods within the Greek mythological canon, boasting command over music, poetry, art, oracles, archery, medicine, the sun, light, and knowledge. Given his prominence across so many spheres, he was frequently represented in Greek art and everyday life. As the god of light, it is fitting that his image decorates this flask.
To discover more about Ancient pottery, please visit our relevant blog post: Collecting Ancient Greek Vases.