game ancient players
COTTABUS (Greek, KArap305, roicro-al3os, or CiTrafl05), a game of skill for a long time in great vogue in ancient Greece, frequently alluded to by the classical writers of the period, and not seldom depicted on the ancient vases. The object of the player was to cast a portion of wine left in his drinking cup in such a way that without breaking bulk in its passage through the air, it should reach a vessel set to receive it, and there produce a distinct noise by it impact. The thrower, in the ordinary form of the game was expected to retain the recumbent position that was usual at table, and in flinging the cottabus, to make use of his right hand only. To succeed in the aim no small amount of dexterity was required, and unusual ability in the game was rated as high as corresponding excellence in throwing the javelin. Not only was the cottabus the ordinary accompaniment of the festal assembly, but at least in Sicily a special building of a circular form was sometimes erected so that the players might be easily arranged round the basin, and follow each other in rapid succession. Like all games in which the element of chance found a place, it was regarded as more or less ominous of the future success of the players, especially in matters of love; and the excitement was sometimes further augmented. by some object of value being staked on the event. Various modifications of the original principle of the game were gradually introduced, and no fewer than nine different kinds, though some of these have no very striking individuality, have been described by Groddeck in his essay on the subject, published in his Anticluarische Versuche, 1800. In one variety a flotilla of shallow saucers was set swimming in a basin, and he was regarded as the victor who sank the greatest number by his casts ; in another the difficulty of the task was increased by setting up a small figure called a p.c&rp, and requiring the jet of wine first to strike on this, and then to fall with a noise into the vessel beneath ; while in a third two scales were balanced in such a way that the weight of the liquid cast into either scale caused it to dip down, and touch the top of an image. In the boisterous mirth of convivial gatherings the players seem sometimes to have set a slave or one of their companions whom they wished to annoy, in the place of the ,sours ; and from this ill-mannered custom the word a7rOKOTTaigIZEIV is occasionally used in the sense of to insult. The game appears to have been of Sicilian origin, but it spread through Greece from Thessaly to Rhodes, and was especially fashionable at Athens. Dionysius, Alcmus, Anacreon, Pinder, Bacchylides, ./Eschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Antiphanes, have frequent and familiar allusion to the mirrallos ; but in the writers of the Roman and Alexandrian period such reference as occurs shows that the fashion had died out. In Latin literature it is almost altogether unknown.
For ancient accounts see Athenus, xv. ; the Scholiast on Arista-panes, Pae. ; the Scholiast on Lucian's Lexiphrones ; Tzetzes, Chiliad, vi. ; Suidas, s. v. tcoTTaf3iceiv ; Nonnus, xxxiii. ; and for modern investigation, lieursius, De halls Groecorum; Becker, De ladiero cottaboram, Dresden, 1754-55 ; Fr. Jacobs, "Veber den Kottabus," in 'Wieland's Attisches Museum, iii. ; Osann, Beitrage zu griech. Litt. Geschiehte, 1835 ; Fanofka, Recherches sur lcs noms do vases grecques, 1827; Otto Jahn " Kottabos auf Vasenbildern," with illustrations, in Philologus, 1867 ; and Annali dell' Institute di corresp. Arch. di Roma, 1868 and 1870.