This highly decorated wine jug, known as an oinochoe originates from Southern Italy, and is attributed to the Gnathia style. The Southern Italian peninsular was populated by a large number of Greek colonies from the 8th century BC onwards – so much so that the Romans referred to the area as Magna Graecia – Great Greece. The pottery attributed to the Gnathia style is so termed after the site of Gnathia (present-day Egnazia), which is located on the Adriatic coast of Apulia. Gnathia ware was famed for its glossy black slip pottery and for its polychromatic decoration – often using shades of white, ochre and red.
An oinochoe (wine jug) such as this would likely have been used at an all-male symposium after a banquet, with drinking, music, and other elicit performances. The subject theme fittingly linked to the frivolous activities of the symposia. Eros was the ancient Greek deity of erotic and passionate love, known in Greek as ἔρως. The winged god is commonly shown in child form and holding a bow and arrows, with which he would spark desire in his targets. He has several origin myths, either making up one of the earliest or primordial gods from the time of the Titans, or as the son of Aphrodite, goddess of love, and Ares, the god of war.
To learn more about Greek pottery, please visit our relevant blog post: Styles and Uses of Greek Pottery.