This blackware guttos would have been used to refill an oil lamp, as well as providing decoration to a table. It was manufactured by a Greek community in Southern Italy – an area populated by a large number of Greek colonies from the 8th century BC onwards (so much so that the Romans referred to the area as Magna Graecia – ‘Great Greece’). These Greek colonies were instrumental in bringing Greek culture and thought to Italy, greatly influencing Roman literature, philosophy, and material culture in turn. The pottery from the area is easily recognisable by its lustrous black glaze.
Aphrodite (known as Venus in the Roman canon) was the goddess of love, pleasure, and procreation. She was married to the crippled god of blacksmiths, Hephaistos, but notoriously had a number of affairs – most famously with Ares (known as Mars to the Romans), the god of war.
To find out more about different types of Greek vessel please see our relevant blog post: Collecting Greek Vases.