Silver rhyton with a reclining Silenus | Thrace Foundation

THE GOLDEN FLEECE

The Quest of the Argonauts

Vassil Bojkov Collection

Rhyton

Silver rhyton with a reclining Silenus - Late 3rd or early 2nd century BC

Rhyton is no doubt the most eccentric shape among the ceremonial vases used in Eastern Mediterranean during Antiquity. It underwent a long evolutionary process from real-horn vases with the addition of a relatively simple animal head, to truly challenging models with animal foreparts and rich sculptural compositions. This unique exemplar has on the top of its horn a festoon of poppy flowers and seeds, and pine cones, both plants connected to the Dionysian cult and its institutionalized forms, such as theatre. The two theatrical masks, one of Comedy and one of Tragedy on either side of the festoon, not only recall the successive stages of drunkenness, but they are direct allusions to life’s ever-changing faces. The elder Silenus, which adorns the rhyton’s lower part, is reclining on a panther’s skin and on a wine-skin. It represents a masterful composition, most probably adapted from a large-scale original creation of the Pergamene school of sculpture. The Attalid dynasty, which claimed descendance from the Olympians and made Pergamon a resplendent centre of letters and arts, excelled on both: the refined political propaganda through art and the creation of sophisticated luxury goods.

 

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