Ancient Greek and Etruscan Art:

The Tomb of the Diver and the Symposium

"....even as a bright light at night draws every eye, so by his [Autolycus] beauty drew on him the gaze of all the company [at the banquet]. Not a man was present who did not feel his emotions stirred by the sight of him." Xenophon Symposium

One of a few Greek wall paintings that survived, is the Tomb of the Diver (Italian: Tomba del Tuffatore), c. 475 BC in Paestum Italy, from a necropolis (city of the dead) of Poseidonia (The older Greek name of Paestum). Scenes of a Symposium, males in love and Kottabos players and a diver. A normal tomb was a rectangular hole cut in the rocky ground sometimes lined internally with stuccoed travertine slabs. Some sources consider this an Etruscan tomb but even then there due to the close relations with the Greeks in Italy it a piece with Greek influence.

The inside of the lid of the tomb, a man diving into the water from a tall structure. What does it represent? The diving into the world of the dead (into the Okeanos)? Another interpretation is that the columns represent the Pillars of Hercules as a symbol of the end of the world maybe a symbol of the end of life

East wall. A boy with a Krater on a table

The North wall of the Tomb. On the right a pair, one with a Lyre instrument. In the center one observing the pair. The others playing the kottabos (or Cottabus) game, trying to throw a few drops of wine from the bottom of a Kylix onto a specified target. Variations include to spin a cup or Kylix around with one's index figure, aiming the dregs or the cup at some target in the center of the room on the floor. Another possibility was to hit cups floating in a basin with water in order to sink the cups by throwing the wine into them, and the competitor who sank the greatest number was considered victorious. The prizes: cakes or kisses from a serving girl or boy.

A closer look at the pair of two men in love? Or does the young man with the Lyre say “NO” by stretching his hand?


What does the Symposium in the diver Tomb represent? A life, with wine, wife (or man) and song, as it was or as it will be?


Another example of a Greek Fresco (Apulia) from a tomb, 5th century BC, a funeral dance.

Reclining woman playing kottabos

A Photoalbum of the Tomb and Paestum and more images

 
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