Attic Red-Figure Cup

Epiktetosabout 510 B.C.

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum

Reclining on a couch, an older balding man tilts his head back and sings, accompanying himself on the lyre. Several features of the scene, such as the couch, the pillow, and especially the wreath the man wears, reveal that he is a participant at a symposion or drinking party. Many Greek vases, especially elaborate cups, were designed for use at such parties. Therefore, vase-painters frequently decorated these vessels with scenes of revelry and drinking. The circular area or tondo on the interior of a cup presented problems for Greek vase-painters. It was difficult to fit upright figures in this limited, curving space. Artists devised different solutions for this problem: some drew a line across the circle to create an artificial ground-line for their figures. On this vase, Epiktetos came up with a creative solution. He drew a line across the circle but made it the man's couch, rather than a ground-line. The edge of the man's mantle slipping down behind and below the line, creates the impression of depth and space. Epiktetos also used the circular frame of the tondo as part of the composition: it supports the man's pillow, and he props his foot on it.

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  • Title: Attic Red-Figure Cup
  • Creator: Epiktetos
  • Date: about 510 B.C.
  • Location Created: Athens, Greece
  • Physical Dimensions: 7.8 x 25.3 x 18 cm (3 1/16 x 9 15/16 x 7 1/16 in.)
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Terracotta
  • Source Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California
  • Object Type: Cup
  • Object Status: Permanent Collection
  • Number: 86.AE.279
  • Inscription: On the tondo, as if from the singer's mouth: ELOI ESE(N)
  • Display Location: Currently on view at: Getty Villa, Gallery 209, Men in Antiquity
  • Department: Antiquities
  • Culture: Greek (Attic)
  • Classification: Vessels