From BoyWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Part of the boylove history series 695px-World Map 1689.JPG
Ancient Greece

Puce 9x9 gr.png Alcibiades Puce 9x9 gr.png Ancient Greece Puce 9x9 gr.png Athenian pederasty Puce 9x9 gr.png Archias of Corinth Puce 9x9 gr.png Cretan pederasty Puce 9x9 gr.png Ephebophilia Puce 9x9 gr.png Erastes Puce 9x9 gr.png Eromenos Puce 9x9 gr.png Greek love Puce 9x9 gr.png Greek terms applied to pederastia Puce 9x9 gr.png Gyges of Lydia Puce 9x9 gr.png Harmodius and Aristogeiton Puce 9x9 gr.png Herodotus Puce 9x9 gr.png Historical boylove relationships in ancient Greece Puce 9x9 gr.png Palaestra Puce 9x9 gr.png Pederasty Puce 9x9 gr.png Pederasty in ancient Greece Puce 9x9 gr.png Philolaus Puce 9x9 gr.png Philosophy of ancient Greek pederasty Puce 9x9 gr.png Spartan pederasty Puce 9x9 gr.png Symposium Puce 9x9 gr.png Theban pederasty Puce 9x9 gr.png The Exquisite Corpse of Ganymede by Andrew Calimach Puce 9x9 gr.png Trochus/Hoop

Gods and mythology

Puce 9x9 gr.png Apollo Puce 9x9 gr.png Cyparissus Puce 9x9 gr.png Dionysus Puce 9x9 gr.png Eros Puce 9x9 gr.png Ganymede Puce 9x9 gr.png Hyacinth Puce 9x9 gr.png Orpheus Puce 9x9 gr.png Zephyrus
Puce 9x9 gr.png Zeus

Ancient Rome

Puce 9x9 gr.png Ancient Rome Puce 9x9 gr.png Augustus Puce 9x9 gr.png Catamite Puce 9x9 gr.png Commodus Puce 9x9 gr.png Definitions of Roman legal terms Puce 9x9 gr.png Hadrian and Antinous Puce 9x9 gr.png Historical boylove relationships in ancient Rome Puce 9x9 gr.png Lex Scantinia Puce 9x9 gr.png Plutarch Puce 9x9 gr.png Roman Emperors Puce 9x9 gr.png Tiberius

Boylove in the middle ages

Puce 9x9 gr.png Boylove in the middle ages Puce 9x9 gr.png Pederastic relationships in history - Post-antiquity to present Puce 9x9 gr.png Pederasty in the Renaissance

Boylove in modern times

Puce 9x9 gr.png Boylove in modern times Puce 9x9 gr.png Historical boylove relationships in modern times Puce 9x9 gr.png Pederastic relationships in history - Post-antiquity to present Puce 9x9 gr.png Pederasty in the modern world


Puce 9x9 gr.png Kiss (Briseis Painter) Puce 9x9 gr.png Man with ephebe Puce 9x9 gr.png Warren Cup Puce 9x9 gr.png Tomb of the Diver

References material

Puce 9x9 gr.png A Problem in Greek Ethics (book) Puce 9x9 gr.png Erastes Puce 9x9 gr.png Eromenos Puce 9x9 gr.png Krater Puce 9x9 gr.png Kylix Puce 9x9 gr.png Lovers' Legends: The Gay Greek Myths (book) Puce 9x9 gr.png Paidika Puce 9x9 gr.png Reading list category ancient Greece


Portal:History E

Kottabos (Ancient Greek: κότταβος) was a game of skill played at ancient Greek and Etruscan symposia (drinking parties), especially in the 5th and 4th centuries BC. The game is played by flinging wine lees at targets. The player would utter the name of the object of his affection.[1] The game appears to have been of Sicilian origin, but it spread through Greece from Thessaly to Rhodes, and was especially fashionable at Athens.

Forms of play

The object of the player was to cast a portion of wine left in his drinking cup, in such a way that it doesn't break bulk in its passage through the air, towards a bronze "lamp stand" with a tiny statuette on top with outstretched arms delicately holding a small disc called a plastinx. Halfway down the stand was a larger disc called the manes. To be successful the player had to knock off the plastinx in such a way that it would fall to the manes and make a bell like sound.[2] Both the wine thrown and the noise made were called latax (λάταξ). The thrower, in the ordinary form of the game, was expected to retain the recumbent position that was usual at table, and, in flinging the cottabus, to make use of his right hand only.

To succeed in the aim of the game dexterity was required, and unusual ability in the game was rated as high as corresponding excellence in throwing the javelin. Not only was the cottabus the ordinary accompaniment of the festal assembly, but, at least in Sicily, a special building of a circular form was sometimes erected so that the players might be easily arranged round the basin, and follow each other in rapid succession. Like all games in which the element of chance found a place, it was regarded as more or less ominous of the future success of the players, especially in matters of love – and the excitement was sometimes further augmented by some object of value being staked on the event.

Symposium scene with Kottabos player (center). Fresco from the Tomb of the Diver. 475 BC.
Paestum National Museum, Italy.


Various modifications of the original principle of the game were gradually introduced, but for practical purposes we may reckon two varieties:

Cottabus with an oxybaphon

In cottabus with an oxybaphon (Κότταβος δι᾽ ὀξυβάφων), shallow saucers (ὀξύβαφα or "oxybapha") were floated in a basin or mixing-bowl filled with water; the object was to sink each oxybaphon by throwing the wine into it. The competitor who sank the greatest number was considered victorious, and received the prize (κοττάβιον or "cottabium"), which consisted of cakes or sweetmeats.

Sunken cottabus

Symposium scene. Douris, red-figure kylix, ca. 480 BC. From Vulci.

Sunken cottabus (Κότταβος κατακτός) is not so simple. The apparatus (kottabeion, pl. kottabeia)[3] involved consisted of the rhabdus (ῥάβδος, a bronze pole), the plastinx (πλάστιγξ, a small saucer like that on a balance), the lecanis (λεκανίς, a large saucer), and the manes (μάνης, a bronze figurine).

The discovery in Etruscan burial sites (by Wolfgang Helbig in 1886) of two sets of actual apparatus in Umbria, near Perugia, as well as various representations on Greek vases help explain the somewhat obscure accounts[4] of how cottabus was played.

The rhabdus (pole) had a flat base, and the main structure tapered towards the top, with a blunt end (one which the plastinx or manes was balanced). The plastinx (small saucer) had a hole near the edge and was slightly concave in the middle.

About two-thirds of the way down, the rhabdus was encircled by the lecanis (large saucer). A socket near the top of the rhabdus held the manes (figurine). The manes was in the shape of a man, with his right arm and leg uplifted, sometimes holding a drinking horn (or "rhytum").

According to Helbig, three games[5] were played with this apparatus:

Method No. 1

The plastinx (small saucer) was fixed on top of the rhabdus (pole), with the lecanis (large saucer) below. The players tried to fill the plastinx with enough wine to tip it over (with a crash) onto the lecanis.

Method No. 2

Played exactly the same as method No. 1, except that the plastinx was supposed to hit the manes (figurine) on the way down to the lecanis.

Method No. 3

Played exactly the same as method No. 1, except that the manes (instead of the plastinx) was fixed on top of the rhabdus, and it was at this that the wine was thrown.

See also


  1. 99/117/1 Drinking cup (kylix), red-figure style, glazed terracotta, attributed to the Antiphon Painter, Athens, Greece, c. 490–480 BCE – Powerhouse Museum Collection
  2. Hugh Johnson, Vintage: The Story of Wine pg 44. Simon and Schuster 1989
  3. Herman W. Hayley, "The kottabos kataktos in the Light of Recent Investigations", Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, Vol. 5, 1894 (1894), pp. 73–82
  4. These accounts, contained in the writings of various Greek and Roman authors, should not be assumed as entirely accurate since they were written at a time when cottabus had, in fact, become obsolete
  5. A fourth method, in which a set of scales was barraged with wine so that each side of the scale would dip down and touch an image placed underneath, probably never existed and was conceived by a confusion of the plastinx with a scale-pan by reason of its name (which also means "scale" in Greek).


    • Sartoris, C. Das Kottabos-Spiel der alten Griechen. 1893. A complete treatise on the subject with a full bibliography of ancient and more modern authorities.
    • Higgins, A. “Recent Discoveries of the Apparatus used in playing the Game of Kottabos.” Archaeologia, li. 1888.
    • Daremberg and Saglios. “Kottabos.” Dictionnaire des antiquités
    • de Fouquières, L. Becq. Les Jeux des anciens. 1873.
    • Helbig, Wolfgang. Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts. Römische Abteilung i. 1886.

External links