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Red-figured bowl with a design featuring black on red ground, with white accessories and various figures. - click to view larger image
Volute krater

LUCAS: Have you ever been to a party with punch? No, not like a punch in the nose. That would be a terrible party! Punch, as in the special drink made from soft drink or fruit juice, maybe with pieces of fruit all mixed up in it. It’s served in a big bowl and you use a ladle to serve it into smaller cups.

This krater is a type of punchbowl. In Ancient Greece, the krater would have had a mixture of wine in it, not soft drink or juice, but it would still have been shared out like our punch.

This krater tells us two things about the Ancient Greeks.

One. They really liked parties.

And two. They loved sports.

What sport is being shown here? It’s one we don’t play today, and for a really good reason. It is extremely dangerous!

The man shown is competing in a dismounting horse race known as the anabates. Competitors had to ride their horse as fast as they could. As they approached the end of the race, they had to leap off their horse while it was still running. And then race their horse on foot to the finish line. Sounds like a good way to get trampled.

But it was also excellent practice for being a soldier, which is why the anabates was such a popular sport. You had to be fast, strong, brave and agile and not too worried about horses and men thundering around you.

The man on this krater was certainly fast and strong. And I think he’s going to win the race. Do you know how I know that? Can you see any clues on the krater?

Look at the figure with wings. She’s holding out a wreath made from laurel leaves. The laurel wreath is the trophy for winning the race. The winner wears it on his head. I hope he’s not allergic to laurel!

By the way, I bet you can figure out who the figure holding the wreath is. You may have already seen her somewhere else in this exhibition. If you don’t know, keep looking for a goddess with wings, who’s all about winning. You’ll find her!

There’s one other cool thing about this krater. Like so many words from Ancient Greek, 'krater' is still used today. But we’re more likely to find boiling lava in our craters, not drinks for a party. That’s right, the crater of a volcano is named after kraters like this.

Why do you think that is?

Disclaimer and Copyright notice
This is an edited transcript typed from an audio recording.
The National Museum of Australia cannot guarantee its complete accuracy.

© National Museum of Australia 2007–21. This transcript is copyright and is intended for your general use and information. You may download, display, print and reproduce it in unaltered form only for your personal, non-commercial use or for use within your organisation. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) all other rights are reserved.

Date published: 17 December 2021

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