Relief with a Heroic Banquet
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Bruce White Photography
Gift of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman

Greek, Eastern Mediterranean, 150 - 100 B.C.
19 15/16 x 32 13/16 in.

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Surrounded by sumptuous furnishings, a bearded man reclines on a couch, holding a phiale, a shallow bowl frequently used to pour libations or liquid offerings to the gods. A servant stands at the left, ready to refill the phiale from a large krater that would have held a mixture of wine and water.

Reliefs such as this one depicting heroic banquets were popular in eastern areas of the Greek world in the Hellenistic period. First made as devotional offerings to various deities, they were also used to honor those mortals elevated to heroic status and as grave markers. This relief is a simpler example of the type. Missing are the wife, who usually stands at the end of the couch, and any attributes, such as weaponry or horses, denoting the man's status. This absence of attributes probably indicates that this relief had a votive rather than funerary purpose. Although this relief has fewer figures and attributes than others of the type, it is exceptional for its elegant workmanship and rich detail. The legs of the couch and the table are intricately carved, the table is set with ritual cakes, and the couch's coverlet has a tasseled border.