"Lord of the common drink"
KORKYRA. Korkyra. Circa 400-338 B.C. Æ. 2.88 gm. 16 mm. Dionysos, brandishing thyrsos, riding panther charging right / Satyr standing right, filling krater with wine from amphora; KOP to left. HGC 6, 91. BMC 187-92. Joy 322. SNG Copenhagen 169. Good Fine; green patina with earthen highlights. Fascinating coin. Scarce.
Ex Spink New York (7 December 1999) lot 612.
A krater was a large vase used in ancient Greece for diluting wine with water, and sometimes for infusing the wine with herbs. They were quite large and ornately decorated, and were often kept on a tripod in the center of a symposium (the portion of a banquet following the meal, a drinking party often featuring music, dancing, acrobatic acts, and not infrequently more ribald acts, or conversation). Greeks drank their wine thus, rather than neat as favored by barbarians, which was considered uncouth or even dangerous. The level of dilution was controlled by a symposiarch, or "lord of the common drink," and could be varied throughout the event to control the general rate of inebriation–one source (lacking proper citation) suggests 1:3 for serious discourse, 1:2 for general celebration, 1:1 for 'orgiastic revelry'. They would not be out of place in a modern celebration, filled with sangria perhaps.
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