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Wine Jug with a Drunken Man Singing

Oionokles Painterabout 470 B.C.

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

With his head tilted back, his mouth open as if singing, and his arms thrown out in dramatic gesturing, the man on this vase shows the effects of a long night of drinking. He appears unaware of his surroundings or even his full bladder. Luckily, a servant-boy is there, anticipating his master's needs. The boy stands patiently carrying his master's belongings--a walking stick and a basket covered with a cloth--and holds out a jug for him to urinate into. Many Greek vases were designed for use at symposia, or drinking parties. Vase-painters frequently depicted the physical effects of indulgence, from over-stretched bladders to upset stomachs. Since symposia were aristocratic events, faithful servants often appear, shepherding the revelers through their difficulties. The decoration on this vessel is particularly appropriate. This special form of oinochoe, called a chous, was used during the Anthesteria, a three-day religious festival in honor of Dionysos, the god of wine. A drinking contest was held on the second day of the festival , and choes were used to hold a standard amount of wine for the contest.

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