Then there is the κώθων, which is mentioned by Xenophon, in the first book of his Cyropædia. But Critias, in his Constitution of the Lacedæmonians, writes as follows—“And other small things besides which belong to human life; such as the Lacedæmonian shoes, which are the best, and the Lacedæmonian garments, which are the most pleasant to wear, and the most useful. There is also the Lacedæmonian [p. 771] κώθων, which is a kind of drinking-cup most convenient when one is on an expedition, and the most easily carried in a knapsack. And the reason why it is so peculiarly well-suited to a soldier is, because a soldier often is forced to drink water which is not very clean; and, in the first place, this cup is not one in which it can be very easily seen what one is drinking; and, secondly, as its brim is rather curved inwards, it is likely to retain what is not quite clean in it.” And Polemo, in his work addressed to Adæus and Antigonus, says that the Lacedæmonians used to use vessels made of earthenware; and proceeds to say further—“And this was a very common practice among the ancients, such as is now adopted in some of the Greek tribes. At Argos, for instance, in the public banquets, and in Lacedæmon, they drink out of cups made of earthenware at the festivals, and in the feasts in honour of victory, and at the marriage-feasts of their maidens. But at other banquets and at their Phiditia1 they use small casks.” And Archilochus also mentions the cothon as a kind of cup, in his Elegies, where he says—
But come now, with your cothon in your hand,as if the κύλιξ were here called κώθων. Aristophanes, in his Knights, says—
Move o'er the benches of the speedy ship,
And lift the covers from the hollow casks,
And drain the rosy wine down to the dregs;
For while we're keeping such a guard as this,
We shan't be able to forego our wine;
They leapt into th' horse-transports gallantly,And Heniochus, in his Gorgons, says—
Buying cothones; but some bought instead
Garlic and onions.
Let a man give me wine to drink at once,And Theopompus, in his Female Soldiers, says—
Taking that capital servant of the throat,
The ample cothon—fire-wrought, and round,
Shall I, then, drink from out a wryneck'd cothon,[p. 772] And Alexis, in his Spinners, says—
Breaking my own neck in the hard attempt?
And then he hurl'd a four-pint cothon at me,And it is from this cup that they call those who drink a great deal of unmixed wine (ἀκράτον) as Hyperides does in his oration against Demosthenes. But Callixenus, in the fourth book of his History of Alexandria, giving an account of the procession of Ptolemy Philadelphus, and giving a catalogue of a number of drinking-cups, adds these words: “And two cothons, each holding two measures of wine.”
An ancient piece of plate, an heirloom too.