Wine Cup with a Satyr and a Nymph
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Attributed to Onesimos
Greek, Athens, 500 - 490 B.C.
3 1/4 x 12 x 9 1/4 in.

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A satyr, a semi-human creature of Greek mythology, crawls over a large rocky outcropping toward a sleeping maenad, whom he is about to kiss. The maenad, one of the female followers of Dionysos, the god of wine, reclines on a striped cushion. The wineskin in the background may explain her sound sleep. Filling the interior of this fragmentary red-figure kylix or cup, this scene of an erotically charged encounter between the human and bestial companions of Dionysos was a particularly fitting decoration for a vessel used at a symposium or drinking party. Sexual sparring between satyrs and maenads, the one side pursuing and the other evading, was a favorite theme on symposium vessels. The image of the satyr creeping up on his helpless sleeping prey had a particular appeal. Each side of the exterior of the cup once displayed a figure of a dancing satyr shown in a complex pose. The best preserved of these satyrs is shown from the back; only the profile-view legs, tail, and drinking horn remain of the other.

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3/4 from below