Statues and statuettes of reclining banqueters were dedicated at several Ionian sanctuaries during the sixth century B.C.E., beginning with the Geneleos Group at the Samian Heraion. Though common for small bronze and terracotta sculpture, this figure type is not otherwise attested in monumental dedicatory sculpture and is rare as architectural decoration elsewhere in archaic Greece. This article explores the social implications of this Ionian sculptural tradition, which paired the luxury of the reclining banquet with bodily corpulence, in light of archaic poetry and Samian history. The short-lived trend of reclining banqueter dedications may be understood as a locally specific type of aristocratic self-definition and an Ionian corollary to burials on klinai (banquet couches) in neighboring western Asiatic dynastic cultures. These sculptures also challenge conventional distinctions between private and cultic banqueting and illuminate the place of sympotic culture in archaic Ionian sanctuaries and the social implications of East Greek sculptural style.

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Copyright © 2011 Archaeological Institute of America. This article first appeared in American Journal of Archaeology 115:1 (2011), 19-53.

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