Collection Online

Patera (Libation Vessel), 350-300 B.C.E

Maker: Unknown Maker, South Italian

Medium: Bronze

16 × 8 1/2 × 2 in. (40.6 × 21.6 × 5.1 cm)

Credit Line: Clarence Day Foundation Collection

Object Number: LI.90.56

On View

Patarea, the plural of patera, were part of the ritual pouring of liquids known as libation. Faithful Greeks performed libations—accompanied by prayers—in the morning and evening as well as at the start of meals. A libation usually consisted of wine mixed with water, poured from a pitcher into a patera or other vessel. If the prayer was for the dead, the contents were then emptied onto the ground, and the offering would soak into the underworld. If the prayer was for other needs, a small amount of the mixture would be poured out, but the remainder was drunk.