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The Etruscan Simposio
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Escrito por Leonardo Torricini   

After the Phersu, here's a second etruscan diorama, also based on various ancient paintings, at least in part.
It's the symposion, a dinner that could was a feast or a private entertainment but also a ritual.
Usually it is related to the idea of food, wine and various other activities: dances, games, chats, and many more...
This ritual was common between greeks, etruscans, romans etc. In Greece, where it comes from, there was a difference between the "symposion" dedicated to the wine and the "syneipdon" more generally dedicated to the food.

Tomba del Triclinio

For personal aesthetic taste and availability of illustrations, further than for my tuscan origins, I decided to rappresent the scene in an etruscan environment, where also women took part in the social life, differently from the greek and latin contest where the "free" (???) women were usually kept apart relegated in the gynaeceum... This choice allowed me to represent more various subjects.

These banquets, very rich of food and drinks, were limited only to the rich and aristocratic class, but we can suppose that sometimes in some pubblic or ritual occasions also a part of the common people could took part, not only as servants.
It is possible suppose similar feasts even between common people but with more modest choice and less luxury.
The variety and quality of food within the upper classes is descripted by many authors, Marziale refers also about the plebes food, talking about a pudding that was tipical in the town of Chiusi.

br> The etruscans scandalised both romans and greeks for many reasons as the nudity (out from the athletic contests), the superstitions, the social and sexual freedom of the women and not only.

There are a many, both critical and admired, descriptions for the etruscan excessive taste for art and luxury: "laxious and spendent in war or peace", "the etruscans lay the table two times a day using many luxury objects and precious carpets, they dress with rich clothes and jewels also the servants", "the women, strong drinkers, sit next to and drink with anyone they like, not only with their husbands", "Umbrian frugal, etruscan obese", "at the end of the symposion the couples have sex all together without pudor and intimity" and so on...
The historian Posidonio descripted with admiration the richness of the etruscan food, but he said also that one of the reasons of their decadence was the fact that they "spent their lifes drinkig".

Tomba degli Scudi

Many historic critical about etruscans are duobtfull, the historian Teopompo, that criticised the etruscans for the female freedom and their liberal attitudes in general, was considered also by the romans as "maldicentissimus scriptor": a scandal monger (we can recognise this attitude, more or less evidently, in almost all the mass media even nowdays).
Part of the greeks considered etruscans just pirates, a bit hipocrit, in a period that the pirates were very frequent in all the cultures and not an axception. With the rest of the greeks, phoenicians and carthagineans they were in friendly relations of trade and commerce or even alleys. They traded also with gauls, celts and hiberians even if also fighting with them in some cases.
It seem thet "pirate" was the translation of the word "etruscan" in greek; the etruscans called themself "rasenna" (perhaps it ment people or citizens), they were known also as "tirrenians". It seem that the lidian king Tirreno considered as the origin of his people's name had been completely legendary, and the word came more probably from "tirsenoi" that ment "builders of towers".
Another name was "Tusci" from wich comes "tuscany", it could came from "Trshs" (turshas) one of the Sea Peoples.

Avoiding moral judjments and ridicolous comparations with the modern cultures, we can say that it was a society with many curious and positive aspects, but also with negative excesses, and with some of the bad tipical attitudes, common in all the cultures of that age.
The official history descripts the etruscans as very busy searching beautyness and enjoying life, they cared less the military and politic expansion to advantage the commerce and sometimes the technical innovations, as the architecture, the idric regulation, the art or the naval construction for example, they seem positive aspects, quite advanced for the relative historic period.

Tomba dei Leopardi e Tomba del Gallo

Another curious aspect is the etruscan passion for the dance and even more for the music, is evident from the presence of musicians in nearly all the images we have. It seem that they played music during every job or activity, the backing, the boxing, or even the farming. By the evidences music and dances were always present especialy during the symposion. There were other entertainments as recitals and games, and also challenges and athletic exercises, that between etruscans, like later in the roman imperial period, were probably intended as a sportive amusement (with referees and prizes), instead than as a ritual like in Greece, where these games originaly came from. I haven't included all these subjects because I haven't found the pieces to realise them, but also for a lack of space, the diorama is already too big (for an ancient room) and crowded enough. Perhaps I'll make some other smaller diorama with less figures like the Phersu if I'll find the right figures.

All those implications allowed me to make more different subjects, that's the main reason to choose an ertuscan environment especialy for the symposion, what other culture could represent better the spirit of the feast? Unfortunatly looking with attention, is evident the lack at least of one or two overweight figures, especialy after mentioned the richness of food and a latin proverb about the frequent obesity within the etruscans, unluckely parform a couple of figures a bit more heavily-built, my figures seem all athletic or thin. Anyway within the many etruscan iconographic evidences I've seen, parform two paintings of men with big evident tummys, I couldn't see any tipical excess, in a way or the other, their bodys seem quite normaly built. After all at the moment I haven' found a figure or a head usefull for the conversion, I hope to find it in future and add a new figure. As on the images I found, between the couples on the "triclines" (beds), I placed both maid-servants and married women with veil or bonnet (the "tutulus").

There couldn't miss the gay couples, by the plentyness of images of that kind we can suppose it was a normal thing and not an exception.

Tomba della Scrofa Nera

Some plays "kottabos", a game that consist throwing some wine with the "klix" (a cup), with the pourpose to make fall a small plate placed precariously on the top of a sustain, in the scene a searvant have just replaced the plate. During the symposion there were also other games as dices, draughts, astragalus and others, in some cases seem that due to the etruscan superstitious attitude, they gave different meanings to the games results, perhaps intended as forecasts or (as in our partys) prizes and pledjes?

The satyr and one of the dancing girls, as the big wine jar and the musicians, are inspired by some tomb paintings of Tarquinia.


Tomba delle Leonesse

In the same way I take inspirations for other details, from the pointed shoes (calcei repandi) on one man feet, to the furnitures (jars, tripods, tables, decorations, etc).

I used some old Atlantic toysoldiers: egiptians, greeks and romans; and few other pieces: sailors, gladiators and vikings Orion; barbarian warriors Esci and gaul warriors Italeri; partly without conversions (so probably a bit incorrect for the costumes), for the rest I modified resin copies to realise poses and subjects as on the paintings, trying to get a result similar to the images choosen.

Walls, floor and roof are made in wood with incisions. Other objects as tables, beds, jars, etc. are made with many materials: bits of plastic, wood, metal, glue and putty. Both toysoldiers and diorama are painted with acrilic on a black undercoat with white drybrush, in some cases as the transparent clothes over a second pink undercoat, all with some washings and drybrush to shade the pieces.