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{{short description|Drinking horn or cup}}{{for|the band|Rhyton (band)}}

{{Special characters}}File:Rhyton with death of Orpheus from Vassil Bojkov collection.jpg|thumb|Silver rhyton with goat protome and death of Orpheus, c. 420–410 BC, housed in the Vassil Bojkov Collection, Sofia, alt=Rhyton with death of Orpheus from Vassil Bojkov collectionA rhyton {{IPAc-en|ˈ|r|aɪ|ËŒ|t|É’|n|,_|ˈ|r|aɪ|t|É™|n}} (plural rhytons or, following the Greek plural, rhyta) is a roughly conical container from which fluids were intended to be drunk or to be poured in some ceremony such as libation, or merely at table. They are typically formed in the shape of an animal's head, and were produced over large areas of ancient Eurasia, especially from Persia to the Balkans. Many have an opening at the bottom through which the liquid fell; others did not, and were merely used as drinking cups, with the characteristic that they could not usually be set down on a surface without spilling their contents.The English word (wiktionary:rhyton|rhyton) originates in the ancient Greek word (rhy̆tón or rhÅ­tón). The conical rhyton form has been known in the Aegean region since the Bronze Age, or the 2nd millennium BC. However, it was by no means confined to that region. Similar in form to, and perhaps originating from, the drinking horn, it has been widespread over Eurasia since prehistoric times.

Name and function

File:Scène de banquet, fresque, Herculanum.jpg|thumb|right|Roman fresco from Herculaneum demonstrating the use of a rhyton, c. 50 BC.]](File:National Archaeological Museum, Bulgaria - Rhyton1.JPG|thumb|Greek rhyton for the Thracian market, 4th century BC)File:Greek Rhyton in griffin form DMA.jpg|thumb|Pottery griffon's head rhyton, ApuliaApuliaLiddell and Scott{{LSJ|r(uto/s3|ῥυτόν|ref}}. give a standard derivation from Greek rhein, "to flow", which, according to Julius Pokorny,ENCYCLOPEDIA, Indogermanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch, 1959, Bern, Francke, sreu, 1003,weblink is from Indo-European *sreu-, "flow". As rhutos is "stream", the neuter, rhuton, would be some sort of object associated with pouring, which is equivalent to English pourer. Many vessels considered rhytons featured a wide mouth at the top and a hole through a conical constriction at the bottom from which the fluid ran. The idea is that one scooped wine or water from a storage vessel or similar source, held it up, unstoppered the hole with one's thumb, and let the fluid run into the mouth (or onto the ground in libation) in the same way that wine is drunk from a wineskin today.Smith points outENCYCLOPEDIA, William, William, GE, Smith, Wayte, Marindin, Rhyton, A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, Volume II, London, John Murray, 1901, 3rd Revised, Enlarged, that this use is testified in classical paintings and accepts Athenaeus's etymology that it was named , "from the flowing".{{LSJ|r(u/sis2|ῥύσις|shortref}} Smith also categorized the name as having been a recent form (in classical times) of a vessel formerly called the keras, "horn", in the sense of a drinking horn.{{LSJ|ke/ras|κέρας|shortref}}. The word rhyton is not present in what is known about Mycenaean Greek, the oldest form of Greek written in Linear B. However, the bull's head rhyton, of which many examples survive, is mentioned as ke-ra-a on tablet KN K 872,WEB, KN 872 K(1) (102),weblink DĀMOS: Database of Mycenaean at Oslo, University of Oslo, an inventory of vessels at Knossos; it is shown with the bull ideogram (*227VAS; also known as rhyton). Ventris and Chadwick restored the word as the adjective *kera(h)a, with a Mycenaean intervocalic h.BOOK, Michael, Ventris, John, Chadwick, Documents in Mycenaean Greek, 2nd, Cambridge, University Press, 1973, 330, 552, Rhyta shaped after bulls are filled through the large opening and emptied through the secondary, smaller one. This means that two hands are required: one to close the secondary opening and one to fill the rhyton. This has led some scholars to believe that rhytons were typically filled with the help of two people or with the help of a chain or a rope that would be passed through a handle. Rhytons modeled after animals were designed to make it look like the animal was drinking when the vessel was being filled.{{Citation needed|date=July 2018}} A bull rhyton weighed about three kilograms when empty and up to six kilograms when full.Other rhytons with animal themes were modeled after boars, lions, and lionesses (such as Lion head horn). Some shapes, such as lioness rhyta, could be filled through simple submersion, thanks to the vessel's shape and buoyancy. Horizontally designed rhyta, like those modeled after lionesses, could be filled by being lowered into a fluid and supported. Vertically designed rhyta, like those modeled after boars, required another hand to cover the primary opening and to prevent the liquid from spilling as the vessel was filled.Rhyta were often used to strain liquids such as wine, beer, and oil. Some rhyta were used in blood rituals and animal sacrifice. In these cases, the blood may have been thinned with wine. Some vessels were modeled after the animal with which they were intended to be used during ritual, but this was not always the case.Koehl, Robert B. "Prehistory Monographs, Volume 19: Aegean Bronze Age Rhyta". INSTAP Academic Press, 2006.

Wide provenance

It cannot be proven that every drinking horn or libation vessel was pierced at the bottom, especially in the prehistoric phases of the form. The scoop function would have come first. Once the holes began, however, they invited zoomorphic interpretation and plastic decoration in the forms of animal heads—bovids, equines, cervids, and even canines—with the fluid pouring from the animals' mouths.Rhyta occur among the remains of civilizations speaking different languages and language groups in and around the Near and Middle East, such as Persia, from the second millennium BC. They are often shaped like animals' heads or horns and can be very ornate and compounded with precious metals and stones. In Minoan Crete, silver-and-gold bulls' heads with round openings for the wine (permitting wine to pour from the bulls' mouths) seemed particularly common, for several have been recovered from the great palaces (Iraklion Archaeological Museum).Rhytons were very common in ancient Persia, where they were called takuk (تکوک). After a Greek victory against Persia, much silver, gold, and other luxuries, including numerous rhytons, were brought to Athens. Persian rhytons were immediately imitated by Greek artists.WEB, Bakker, Janine,weblink Persian influence on Greece, History of Iran, Iran chamber society, 15 June 2012, Not all rhyta were so valuable; many were simply decorated conical cups in ceramic.

Greek symbolism

{{multiple image| align = right | direction = horizontal | header = | header_align = left/right/center | footer = | footer_align = left | image1 = Parthian Rhyton (150 BC - AD 225), Iran (5899222425).jpg | width1 = 150 | caption1 = A rhyton drinking vessel with animal details; such vessels were widely produced in Persia during the Achaemenid Empire (550-330 BC), though the lifelike animal details as seen in this one date from the later Parthian Empire (247 BC - AD 224).| image2 = Wine horn with lion protome, Iran, Parthian period, 1st century BC - 1st century AD, silver and gilt - Arthur M. Sackler Gallery - DSC05821.JPG | width2 = 150| caption2 = A rhyton wine horn with lion protome, Iran, Parthian period, 1st century BC - 1st century AD, silver and gilt, housed in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery}}File:Table support with a Dionysiac group (AD 170-180) (3470740119).jpg|thumb|Marble table support adorned by a group including Dionysos, Pan and a Satyr; Dionysos holds a rhyton (drinking vessel) in the shape of a panther; traces of red and yellow colour are preserved on the hair of the figures and the branches; from an Asia Minor workshop, 170-180 AD, National Archaeological Museum, AthensNational Archaeological Museum, AthensClassical Athenian pottery, such as red-figured vases, are typically painted with themes from mythology. One standard theme depicts satyrs, which symbolize ribaldry, with rhyta and wineskins. The horn-shaped rhyta are carefully woven in composition with the erect male organs of the satyrs, but this blatantly sexual and somewhat humorous theme appears to be a late development, consistent with Athenian humor, as is expressed in the plays of Aristophanes. The ornate and precious rhyta of the great civilizations of earlier times are grandiose rather than ribald, which gives the democratic vase paintings an extra satirical dimension.The connection of satyrs with wine and rhyta is made in Nonnus's epic Dionysiaca. He describes the satyrs at the first trampling of the grapes during the invention of wine-making by Dionysos:
"...the fruit bubbled out red juice with white foam. They scooped it up with oxhorns, instead of cups which had not yet been seen, so that ever after the cup of mixed wine took this divine name of 'Winehorn'."Dionysiaca XII 361-362.
Karl Kerenyi, in quoting this passage,BOOK, Karl, Kerenyi, Karl Kerenyi, Dionysos: Archetypal Image of Indestructible Life, 1996, 58–60, Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, remarks, "At the core of this richly elaborated myth, in which the poet even recalls the rhyta, it is not easy to separate the Cretan elements from those originating in Asia Minor." The connection to which he refers is a pun not present in English translation: the wine is mixed (kerannymenos), which appears to contain the bull's horn (keras), the ancient Greek name of the rhyton.In the myth, ichor from Olympus falls among rocks. From it grow grapevines. One grows around a pine tree, where a serpent, winding up the tree, eats the grapes. Dionysus, seeing the snake, pursues it into a hole in the rocks. Following an oracle of Rhea, the Cretan mountain goddess, Dionysus hollows out the hole and tramples grapes in it, dancing and shouting. The goddess, the rocks, the snake, and the dancing are Cretan themes. The cult of Dionysus was Anatolian. At its most abstract, the rhyton is the container of the substance of life, celebrated by the ritual dancing on the grapes.File:Ceremonial vessel (rhyton) in the shape of a grape cluster, Alishar, the Mansion, Middle Bronze Age, 1750-1650 BC, ceramic - Oriental Institute Museum, University of Chicago - DSC07649.JPG|Ceramic ceremonial rhyton in the shape of a grape cluster, Alişar Hüyük, Anatolia, Middle Bronze Age, 1750-1650 BCImage:Museu arqueologic de Creta25.jpg|Minoan steatite rhyta in the Iraklion Archaeological MuseumImage:Boar rhyton Louvre AO18521.jpg|Boar's head rhyton from Ugarit, view from the bottomFile:Sotades Painter - Red-Figure Rhyton - Walters 482050 - Side B.jpg|Pottery rhyton, decorated with red-figure satyrs cavorting, c. 450 BCFile:Achaemenid Goblet Erebuni.JPG|Achaemenid silver rhyton from ErebuniFile:Persia - Achaemenian Vessels.jpg|Achaemenid Persian Lion Rhyton, c. 500 BCFile:Achaemenid Golden Rhyton.jpg|Achaemenid Persian Lion Rhyton, c. 500 BCFile:Rhyton Greek Thracian silver, end of 4th c BC, Prague Kinsky, NM-HM10 1407, 140856.jpg|Greek silver rhyton for the Thracian market, end 4th centuryRhyton. The upper section of the luxury vessel used for drinking wines is wrought from silver plate with gilded edge with embossed ivy branch. The lower part goes in the cast Protoma horse. The work of the Greek master, probably for Thracian aristocrat. Perhaps Thrace, the end of the 4th century BC. NG Prague, Kinský Palace, NM-HM10 1407.File:Rhyton cup, China, Tang dynasty, c. 675-750, glazed earthenware - Royal Ontario Museum - DSC04059.JPG|Relatively unusual Chinese rhyton, Tang dynasty, c. 675-750 AD, glazed earthenwareFile:Rhyton terminating in the forepart of a wild cat MET DT905.jpg|Rhyton terminating in the forepart of a wild cat, 1st century BC, Metropolitan Museum of ArtFile:4th cent. B.C. Greek gold and bronze drinking horn with head of Dionysus from Tamoikin Art Fund.jpg|4th cent. B.C. Greek gold and bronze drinking horn with head of Dionysus from Tamoikin Art Fund

See also



External links

{{Commons category|Rhyta}}
  • ENCYCLOPEDIA, RHYTON, Jaeger, Ulf,weblink Encyclopaedia Iranica, 2016, harv,
More pictures of rhyta: {{Greek vase shapes}}

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