“The Art of Wine Flinging: Kylix and Kottabos at the Greek Symposium” with Heather F. Sharpe

March 31, 2022 - 4:30pm

Pittsburgh Society of the Archaeological Institute of America and the Department of Classics of the University of Pittsburgh present
“The Art of Wine Flinging: Kylix and Kottabos at the Greek Symposium”
Heather F. Sharpe
Archaeological Institute of America’s Alan Boegehold Lecturer
Chair, Professor of Art History
West Chester University

Since the 18th century, Greek painted vases have been greatly admired and widely sought after by European connoisseurs. As with early collectors, many modern viewers are enthralled by their fine craftsmanship and elegant decoration. Yet, it should be emphasized that in antiquity these vases were primarily functional; they served specific utilitarian, social, and religious purposes. Many Greek vases were used in the Greek symposium, or male drinking party, and not surprisingly they often illustrate various activities carried out during the symposium. Banqueters are commonly shown drinking, singing, and engaged in various forms of entertainment, which included a rather intriguing drinking game known as kottabos. While the drinking game of kottabos has been the subject of serious scholarship, there has been hardly any attempt to examine the game on a more practical level. In an effort to appreciate the original functionality of Greek vases, the author and a group of student volunteers experimented with clay and 3D printed replicas of Greek kylix cups to determine their suitability for drinking as well as for playing kottabos. Our experiments proved not only illuminating but also extremely entertaining. Student participants quickly demonstrated their skills and competitive spirit; some reveled in the thrill of victory while others wallowed in the messiness of defeat.

(the lecture will begin at 4:30 pm, technical set-up and support will begin at 4:00 pm)