If there is a masterpiece of the collection currently at the Weston Gallery, the title would surely go to the Warren Cup, or in Greek Kanthoros, named after American art collector Edward Perry Warren (c.15BC-15AD). Set in sterling silver, this piece has unique depictions of homoerotic sexual acts, further adorned with musical instruments and lavish fabrics. However the cup is not without controversy. Museums in the 1950s refused to buy it because the subject matter was viewed as obscene.

One side shows a scene that might seem more fitting for the notorious museums of Amsterdam rather than our very own university. A boy is depicted lowering himself onto an older gentleman with the help of a rope hanging from the ceiling, whilst watched by a voyeur in the corner. The other side is slightly less ‘out there’, simply showing two young men making love.

This cup would not have been kept hidden by its owner, but was instead passed around at a dinner party (convivium) to be studied, admired and aide the flow of conversation. It would have been neither taboo nor unusual to have such a possession and truly shows that the liberal culture modern Britain prides itself on is still, in some ways, way behind the times when compared to Ancient Greece and Rome.

Margret Adeagbo & Michael de Vletter

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