The Greek colonies of southern Italy (known in antiquity as Magna Grecia) were marked by their initial allegiance to the ceramic styles of the Attic mainland. However, over the years, native traditions and innovations heavily influenced the works of Magna Grecian potters. Unorthodox forms and painting-styles were seamlessly merged with the standard Greek style, creating distinctive works of art unique to the Hellenistic world. This gorgeous red-figure stamnos comes from the Faliscan region of central Italy, to the northwest of Rome. Neighbors of the Etruscans, today the Faliscan people are best remembered for their language, which was believed to be very similar to Latin. So similar, in fact, that scholars believed the language was displaced by Latin in the years after Falerii, the Faliscan capital, was conquered by the Romans in 241 B.C. Faliscan pottery, as revealed by this red-figured stamnos, was highly influenced by the vessels created by their Greek neighbors to the south.
Belonging to the so-called “Fluid Group,” this stamnos, with its wide mouth, broad body with two handles, and footed base, would have been used for the storage and transportation of wine. One side of the work has been decorated with the painted image of a bearded satyr steadying a large amphora with his left and while simultaneously drinking from a smaller white one with his right hand. White pigment has also been employed to highlight his shoes, his pearl diadem that crowns his heads, and the pearl necklace draped across his torso. The other side is adorned with an image of Eros, facing left, holding a thyrsos. He too wears white shoes and a pearl diadem. The large palmette and scrolling tendrils that decorate the intermediate space between the two main scenes is typical of Magna Grecian art. Satyrs typically symbolize the darker side of man’s nature that the consumption of wine has a tendency to encourage. Hence, these wild creatures were quite popular as decorations for wine vessels, perhaps warning the drinker to be wary. Juxtaposed to the Eros figure on the opposite side, these two scenes seem to depict the best and the worst ideal of mankind: affection and inebriation.