Pericles' ancient wine cup found in pauper's grave

A group of experts have said they are 99% sure a wine cup discovered in a pauper's grave in Athens was used by the ancient Greek statesman Pericles.

Pericles
Was the cup signed for an early autograph hunter?



Pericles was a hugely influential figure in classical Greece, known for his skills as a diplomat, orator and military general. He is known as "the first citizen of Athens", and is responsible for uniting the Delian League into a force that could challenge the attacking Persian army.

The cup is therefore a major find for scholars. Smashed into 12 pieces, it was found during construction in a northern suburb of Athens.

The cup's location is particularly ironic. It was found on Sparta street in Athens, while Pericles died of the plague in 429 BC following a Spartan siege.

The Spartans were Athens' chief rivals for dominance of Greece, who challenged their rule during the Peloponnesian war.

When pieced together, the cup shows Pericles' name alongside that of five other senior figures, including his brother Ariphron.

"The name Ariphron is extremely rare," Angelos Matthaiou, secretary of the Greek Epigraphic Society, told Ta Nea newspaper.

"Having it listed above that of Pericles makes us 99 percent sure that these are the two brothers," he said.

The cup also features the name Drapetis, which translates as "escapee" in Greek. He was likely a slave servant or the owner of the tavern where the cup was used, and possibly an early autograph hunter.

"They were definitely woozy, as whoever wrote Pericles' name made a mistake and had to correct it," added Mattaiou.

The wine cup will now go on display at the Epigraphical Museum in Athens.


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