Pythagoras' Greed Cup and Other Lesser-Known Ancient World Facts

Pythagorean Cup. Cyprus Travels

39. Detesting Wine Hogs

One fun activity that Pythagoras enjoyed was drinking wine. For that matter, so did most ancient Greeks. However, Pythagoras had a pet peeve when it came to drinking: he did not like wine hogs. Specifically, he did not like it when greedy friends filled their cups to the brim, and took more than their fair share of the wine. He decided to do something about that, and invented a special cup that came to be named after him.

Pythagorean Cups. Boofos

Superficially, the Pythagorean Cup looks like a traditional ancient Greek goblet. Inside, however, it contains a column sticking up the middle. One can drink from it like from any other goblet, provided one does not try to fill it to the maximum. Pythagoras designed the cup so that if an unsuspecting drinking companion became a wine hog and tried to fill it, it would instead drain all the wine and spill it out the bottom. Presumably, getting wine spilled all over him – and the hassle of figuring out how to remove wine stains – would teach the greedy friend a lesson about the moderation.