A satyr holding a drinking cup decorates the interior of this Athenian red-figure cup. Satyrs, part-human, part-animal companions of Dionysos, the god of wine, were a popular and fitting decoration for cups like this one intended for use at a symposion or drinking party. The decoration on this cup provides a good example of the reason that by the early 400s B.C. most Athenian vase-painters preferred to work in the red-figure technique. As this moving satyr shows, Greek artists of this period were extremely interested in accurately depicting the human body and its changes in musculature and posture. The black-figure technique, in which all internal markings were incised equally through the black silhouette of the figure, was inherently limited in its ability to do this. The red-figure technique with its painted internal detail was more suitable for the task.
On this vase, Makron used heavy lines of black glaze, actually raised from the surface of the vase, for large contours of the body. He then applied lines of diluted glaze, which fired brown rather than black, for smaller musculature. This varied intensity of line enabled the artist to give a sense of mass and three-dimensionality to the satyr.