Roman Rhyton Phallus Cult Vessel
This earthen Rhyton is a Roman cult vessel for pouring and drinking wine. The opening on the front side is used for the drinking of wine. The original of this very rare Rhyton in the shape of a phallus comes from Spain, and was found in a temple area.
A drinking horn is common, originally made from animal horns (from aurochs for example) and is already known from the Greeks. The Romans refined the production and made them from clay and metal. In some cultures, a so-called Rhyton, such as this example, was used. In contrast to the normal drinking horn, they drank at the Rhyton from the open top, and not from the big mouth opening.
The Rhyton is a special form of the ancient cup: it was typically used for pouring potions and sacrifices through the hole in the bottom, a sign for the creative power of semen. Some Rhyta, originating from the Minoic Crete culture, are designed in the shape of a bull. They were also painted. Vegetables are found as designs on Rhytons, but never as forms of them. Such only occurs during the Victorian era in Britain and the second empire of Napoleon III in France where drinking horns were invented!
- Length: 25-28cm
- Small opening for the sink front
- Decorated relief
Caesar's drinking Horn
Julius Caesar in his work "de bello gallico" (book 6, chap. 28) gives literary evidence for the use of Gaulish (cornu urii):
„Hoc se labore durant adulescentes atque hoc genere venationis exercent, et qui plurimos ex his interfecerunt, relatis in publicum cornibus, quae sint testimonio, magnam ferunt laudem. Sed adsuescere ad homines et mansuefieri ne parvuli quidem excepti possunt. Amplitudo cornuum et figura et species multum a nostrorum boum cornibus differt. Haec studiose conquisita ab labris argento circumcludunt atque in amplissimis epulis pro poculis utuntur.“
Translation: "(There are animals in the shape of a bull. Their strength and speed are extraordinary; they spare neither man nor wild beast which they have espied. These the Germans take with much pains in pits and kill them). The young men harden themselves with this exercise, and practice themselves in this kind of hunting, and those who have slain the greatest number of them, having produced the horns in public, to serve as evidence, receive great praise. But not even when taken very young can they be rendered familiar to men and tamed. The size, shape, and appearance of their horns differ much from the horns of our oxen. These they anxiously seek after, and bind at the tips with silver, and use as cups at their most sumptuous entertainments."
This unusual drinking vessel for wine is a real eye-catcher in any case and the phallus in ancient times was of course as a sign of fertility and power.
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