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Wine cup used by Pericles found north of Athens
#1
Wednesday Jul 30, 2014 (14:14)
Wine cup used by Pericles found in grave north of Athens

[attachment=10399]pericles_cup.jpg[/attachment]
The cup was likely used in a wine symposium when Pericles was in his twenties, and the six men who drank from it scrawled their names as a memento, experts say.

A cup believed to have been used by Classical Greek statesman Pericles has been found in a pauper's grave in north Athens, according to local reports Wednesday.
The ceramic wine cup, smashed in 12 pieces, was found during building construction in the northern Athens suburb of Kifissia, Ta Nea daily said.
After piecing it together, archaeologists were astounded to find the name "Pericles" scratched under one of its handles, alongside the names of five other men, in apparent order of seniority.
Experts are "99 per cent" sure that the cup was used by the Athenian statesman, as one of the other names listed, Ariphron, is that of Pericles' elder brother.
"The name Ariphron is extremely rare," Angelos Matthaiou, secretary of the Greek Epigraphic Society, told the newspaper.
"Having it listed above that of Pericles makes us 99 per cent sure that these are the two brothers," he said.
The cup was likely used in a wine symposium when Pericles was in his twenties, and the six men who drank from it scrawled their names as a memento, Matthaiou said.
"They were definitely woozy, as whoever wrote Pericles' name made a mistake and had to correct it," he said.
The cup was then apparently gifted to another man named Drapetis ("escapee" in Greek) who was possibly a slave servant or the owner of the tavern, said archaeologist Galini Daskalaki.
"This is a rare find, a genuine glimpse into a private moment," she said.
Ironically, the cup was found on Sparta street, Athens' great rival and nemesis in the Peloponnesian War that tore apart the Greek city-states for nearly 30 years.
General of Athens during the city's Golden Age, Pericles died of the plague in 429 BC during a Spartan siege.
The cup will be displayed in the autumn at the Epigraphical Museum in Athens. [AFP]


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Ildar Kayumov
XLegio Forum (in Russian)
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#2
Crazy...
Stefan (Literary references to the discussed topics are always appreciated.)
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#3
Blimey!
Moi Watson

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, Merlot in one hand, Cigar in the other; body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming "WOO HOO, what a ride!
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#4
Obviously, that's really cool, and it also inspires me - I wonder what my hosts will think if the next time I'm offered a glass of wine I start scratching in my name along with all the other guests' names into the side of the glass? Just in case I become a famous statesmen, and the glass happens to survive a few thousand years! Smile
Alexander
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#5
Somehow the logic escapes me. Pericles and 5 more drunk buddies sign their names on a cup - apparently this was done for a reason. Either one of the 6 received it, and it ended up in a grave of someone (him? A descendant?) who did not die rich. The explanation 'then they gave it to a slave' is totally without logic.

Also, although the name Ariphron may be 'extremely rae', please consider that this is only true of that name occurring in source material. Of course every village may have had 10 of them, but as long as nobody had any reason to write about them, they were never mentioned. Maybe Ariphrons were dull people.

But it's no reason to suppose that 'therefore' this cup must be of 'the' Pericles. But it makes for a nice headline, that's for sure.
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR
FECTIO Late Romans
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
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#6
I think you're underestimating the amount of evidence we have, it's not just narrative history, the epigraphic records are pretty damn extensive with silly things like names, patronyms and demonyms. More importantly, Ariphron IS a rare and heavily aristocratic name.

Does it make it the cup of Periklis? It's an odd coincidence to have those two names juxtaposed. It means it is quite happily within the realm of possibility. Nowhere near 99% but it's hardly outside the realms of possibility. P.S inscribing cups and gifting them is well within the norms of classical Greek sympotic behaviour.
Jass
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#7
Hi Jass,

I'm not saying it's impossible, but it's improbable. Especially the way it ended up with a low-born makes me raise my eyebrows.

As to names, if you read publications like the prosopography of the later Roman empire (PLRE), you realise how few names are actually known to us - it covers AD 260-641 in 3 volumes in 4157 pages with c. 20 names to a page. That's c. 80.000 names out of the hundreds of millions who must have lived during that period. How many names of the time of Pericles do we know? More than ten thousand? Epigraphy indeed also gives us more names of commoners, but still not many. Also, no more than modern graffiti tells us about how often names occur in our society (and this we can check against birth records), can ancient records (written on paper or in stone or clay) tell us which records reflect the occurrance of names in ancient society.

Don't be fooled by the apparent meaning of names, either. I can give you the example of Vortigern, one of the first rulers in post-Roman Britain. The name means 'most royal' or something (and may be taken upon accession). But he was something like a king. However, we also know of eleven (!) other Vortigerns, who are all commoners with no noble connection wahatsoever. Meaning of names don't mean we know the status of the person behind it.

My sister btw is named after three queens (Wilhelmina Johanna Elizabeth). I wonder if she wrote her birthnames on a cup, buried it in the back garden, maybe in 2000 years an archaeologist would publish about a rare chance find of a 'royal cup from the Kingdom of Holland'. Smile
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR
FECTIO Late Romans
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
[Image: artgroepbutton.jpg]
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#8
Quote:Hi Jass,

I'm not saying it's impossible, but it's improbable. Especially the way it ended up with a low-born makes me raise my eyebrows.

I'm not sure how improbable it is. Yes the low-born grave is itself interesting. But then, by low-born one usually means "not necessarily with aristocratic accoutrements" which can mean anything really. Also this is classical Athens, it's not unlikely for a family to drop in fortune materially.

Quote: As to names, if you read publications like the prosopography of the later Roman empire (PLRE), you realise how few names are actually known to us - it covers AD 260-641 in 3 volumes in 4157 pages with c. 20 names to a page. That's c. 80.000 names out of the hundreds of millions who must have lived during that period. How many names of the time of Pericles do we know? More than ten thousand? Epigraphy indeed also gives us more names of commoners, but still not many. Also, no more than modern graffiti tells us about how often names occur in our society (and this we can check against birth records), can ancient records (written on paper or in stone or clay) tell us which records reflect the occurrance of names in ancient society.

I'm quite aware of prosopographies, what makes the Greek names list so important by the way isn't just the sources it uses (everything from inscribed jewellery to archon lists) but the kind of data they give you like deme and phratry lists, legal proceedings and so on. No, we don't have every single name but we have more than enough data to draw patterns. Especially when many names can be linked to father, maternal uncle, grandfather and phratry/deme.

Quote: Don't be fooled by the apparent meaning of names, either. I can give you the example of Vortigern, one of the first rulers in post-Roman Britain. The name means 'most royal' or something (and may be taken upon accession). But he was something like a king. However, we also know of eleven (!) other Vortigerns, who are all commoners with no noble connection wahatsoever. Meaning of names don't mean we know the status of the person behind it.

My sister btw is named after three queens (Wilhelmina Johanna Elizabeth). I wonder if she wrote her birthnames on a cup, buried it in the back garden, maybe in 2000 years an archaeologist would publish about a rare chance find of a 'royal cup from the Kingdom of Holland'. Smile

I'm not fooled by anything, I'm making an important statement as to what we know of the culture of classical Athens. The comparison with modern names is facile and unwarranted actually given the different parameters:. It's is nice that your mother is named after three queens to whom, I assume, she is not related to directly and that two of those names are Semitic while you and your family (assumptions) are Germanic but you don't get patterns like necessarily. What one sees is that the onomastic record is able to tell us quite a bit about social patterns and naming. If 90% of people with -hippos- or -kles- in there name come from a better of background you have to assume a pattern there. These names were assigned for a variety of reasons and, indeed, this is still not that uncommon in traditional societies today for names to be highly stratified like that.

There society worked quite differently from ours, and while that doesn't make the cup genuine it is important to note that what little information we have so far fits in with the pattern we might expect more or less. I'd be more interested in details on cup morphology and composition as well as the script usage cf'd with other sympotic inscriptions. To reiterate I'm not necessarily accepting of this and I'm sure some better refutation will come along but it's not as crazy as it sounds.
Jass
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#9
Hi Jass,

Quote:I'm not fooled by anything, I'm making an important statement as to what we know of the culture of classical Athens. The comparison with modern names is facile and unwarranted actually given the different parameters:. It's is nice that your mother is named after three queens to whom, I assume, she is not related to directly and that two of those names are Semitic while you and your family (assumptions) are Germanic but you don't get patterns like necessarily.

I like the discussion but I also like it when my arguments are being read. There are as important as yours are, right?
My example (Vortigern) was immediately post-Roman britain. So your argument about comparison with modern names is not to the point.
The modern example was of course tongue in cheek. Oh and, it's my sister who I mentioned, not my mother.
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR
FECTIO Late Romans
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
[Image: artgroepbutton.jpg]
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#10
Sorry friend where did I misrepresent your argument (bar the unfortunate mistake with your family, sorry)? You postulated a parallel and I correctly pointed out that we actually a) have a more than sufficient corpus of evidence and that b) we have a more than plausible working theory of how classical Greek onomastics worked. I'm not saying it was ironclad, I'm sure there was the occasional commoner with a name like Aristeides son of Anaxagoras son of Demarkhos from a rich part of a deme like Kephissos. But that would be against the trend in the data and against Athenian social expectations.
Jass
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#11
I asked about this with working archaeologist and they questioned why someone with such a high social stature would use a pottery cup in a social situation. They generally drank out of cups made from silver or bronze and to serve your social equals wine in a ceramic cup, when better cups were available, could be seen as insulting. The reason we have so much pottery is that it was not re-usable and was not considered valuable enough to loot. This often distorts our views of the "ancient table." That does not mean the cup is not ancient, only that it is questionable that the Athenian Statesman Pericles ever used such a cup in an important social occasion.
Joe Balmos
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#12
The fact that the company was of aristocratic youths, doesnt mean that they couldnt be dinning informaly in a modest house or establishment. I mean rich or famous people visiting humble or bad parts of a city, isnt exactly something new...
aka Yannis
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Molon lave
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