Apulian Red-Figure Bell Krater

SKU SF.047

400 BC to 300 BC


13.9″ (35.3cm) high x 14″ (35.6cm) wide




Magna Graecia

Gallery Location



An essential vessel for anyone wishing to partake in the Bacchic pastime of wine-drinking, this wide-mouthed bell krater was specifically designed for holding large quantities of liquid; as it was considered barbaric for wine to be drunk neat (and a privilege only enjoyed by Bacchus/Dionysus and his entourage who could handle such a level of intoxication) wine would be mixed with water, usually 1 part to 3. As such, craters provided an ideal large surface area for decoration, and as wine was of utmost importance to the Symposium, kraters would usually take centre place, and as such, the decoration of such vessels were geared towards such gatherings and attempted to provide subject matter for philosophical debate, or more usually, for titillation. The obverse of this vessel depicts three nude male figures, standing resplendent in their musculature, showing off the efforts of their rigorous athletic training. The lack of attributes help to identify these men as athletes and not heroes or gods, as well as the fact that two of the men hold long thin sticks, the disciplinary rods of trainers. The men seem to be conversing, the two on the right with their hands raised, possibly in objection to something that the man on the left has done. The reverse shows another conversation taking place, this time between a man and a woman. The man on the left is clothed, the placement of his cloak suggesting that he is either a public speaker or a philosopher (although the latter is usually indicated by an unkempt appearance.) He rests upon his walking stick as he converses with his female companion. Her right hand is raised with her fingers spread. It could be that she is showing him a number, a price, maybe for her as the depiction of her breasts through her chiton could suggest that she is a prostitute. Indeed, she does have a rather knowing smile upon her face.

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