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The Warren Cup

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • The Warren Cup
  • Description

    A silver stemmed drinking-cup originally with two vertical handles (now lost) comprising decorated outer casing (now split in one place) enclosing, in order to facilitate both drinking and cleaning, the drinking vessel. The handles and foot were cast separately. The decorative scenes on the outer casing were raised by hammering and elaborated with chased and engraved details, some enhanced by gilding (now lost). The decoration consists of two scenes of male homosexual love-making, set in interiors elaborated with textile hangings. On the obverse the older, active lover (erastes) is bearded and wears a wreath, while the younger, passive partner (eromenos) is a beardless youth. On the reverse the erastes is a beardless youth, crowned with a wreath, and the eromenos is a boy. The boy at the door with short hair, who is observing the scene, is a probably a slave.


  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 15BC - AD15
  • Production place

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Diameter: 9.9 centimetres (max, rim)
    • Diameter: 4.8 centimetres (min, base)
    • Height: 11 centimetres (max)
    • Height: 8.3 centimetres (max, bowl)
    • Diameter: 11 centimetres (max, sleeve)
    • Height: 8.4 centimetres (max, sleeve)
  • Curator's comments

    Such double-walled cups decorated with scenes in relief were a Hellenistic innovation, replaced in the later first century AD by solid cast vessels. It is likely that the cup was commissioned by wealthy members of a Greek community, perhaps one of the major cities of the Eastern Mediterranean. The cup is said to have been found in Palestine with coins of the Emperor Claudius (41 - 54 AD). The age and status of the figures in both scenes is carefully shown. The bearded man and youths are shown in a style typical of the classicizing art of the reign of the emperor Augustus (30BC - AD14), and can probably be dated more closely to approximately 15BC-AD15. The musical instruments, wreaths and mantles suggest a cultured, Hellenized setting. Both partners in the reverse scene have long locks of hair, the youth's bound up, the boy's loose. Such locks were worn by Greek boys, and were offered to the gods in a rite celebrated at puberty.


  • Bibliography

    • Williams 2006 bibliographic details
    • Opper 2008 127 bibliographic details
    • MacGregor 2010 36 bibliographic details
    • Parkinson 2013 pp. 8, 50-51 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G70/dc12a

  • Exhibition history


    2006-2007 1 Dec-22 Jan, York, Yorkshire Museum, The Warren Cup
    2008 24 Jul-26 Aug, London, BM, 'Hadrian: Empire and Conflict'
    2010 Jan - April, Nottingham, The University of Nottingham, Lakeside Arts Centre, 'Roman Sexuality: Images, Myths and Meanings'
    2010-2011, London, BM/BBC, 'A History of the World in 100 Objects'
    2012 28 Apr-30 Jun, Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery, 'The Warren Cup'
    2014 Feb-May, Isle of Wight, Brading Roman Villa, 'Roman Sexuality: Images, Myths and Meanings'

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Greek & Roman Antiquities

  • Registration number



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Object reference number: GAA61318

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