Sponsored by: Archaeological Institute of America
In this talk, I discuss an inscribed black-slip cup discovered in Athens and first published in 2014. This “Perikles skyphos” presents a list of six names inscribed upside down on the cup and enclosed by a trapezoidal border. Scholars have argued—persuasively, in my view—that the names represent a list of elite Athenians from the second quarter of the fifth century, including the famous politician Perikles, son of Xanthippos, his brother Ariphron, and possibly Aristeides “The Just.” But why did the assembled companions decide to inscribe their names on this object? And how did the cup come to be included among humble grave goods? In attempting to answer these questions, I draw upon the comparative evidence of sympotic poetry, the institution of ostracism, curse tablets, and wisdom literature in order to situate the cup in its historical and cultural context. The Perikles Cup is a precious piece of archaeological evidence that casts light on a murky period of Athenian history and on Perikles’ social upbringing.