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Bill Thayer

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 p995  Rhyton

[image ALT: An engraving of two curved animal horns, each intricately carved into the shape of an animal's head, a dog much like a greyhound's on the left, and a wild boar's on the right. It is a depiction of two ancient Greek or Roman drinking-horns of the type known as rhyta.]

Unsigned article on p995 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

RHYTON (ῥυτόν), a drinking-horn (κέρας), by which name it was originally called, is said by Athenaeus (XI p497B) to have been first made under Ptolemy Philadelphus; but it is even mentioned in Demosthenes (c. Mid. p565.29), as Athenaeus himself also remarks. The oldest and original form of this drinking-horn was probably the horn of the ox, but one end of it was afterwards ornamented with the heads of various animals and birds. We frequently find representations of the ῥυτόν on ancient vases depicting symposia. Several specimens of these drinking-horns have also been discovered at Pompeii (Museo Borbonico, vol. VIII.14, V.20); representations of two of these are given in the annexed cut.

The ῥυτόν had a small opening at the bottom, which the person who drank put into his mouth, and allowed the wine to run in: hence it derived its name (ὠνομασθαί τε ἀπὸ τῆς ῥύσεως, Athen. XI p497E). We see persons using the ῥυτόν in this way in ancient paintings (Pitt. d'Ercol. V. t.46; Zahn, Ornam. und Wandgem. t. 90). Martial (II.35) speaks of it under the name of Rhytium (Becker, Charikles, vol. I p505).

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Page updated: 16 Jan 03