Side B: head of official on right

Side B: head of Olympias

Side A: Athena's right arm

Border of main panels

Side A: Athena, midsection

Side A: Athena's left arm and shield

Collection: Cambridge, Harvard University Art Museums
Summary: Side A: Athena. Side B: two boxers, official, Olympias.
Ware: Attic Black Figure
Painter: Attributed to Nikomachos Series
Context: Said to be from Capua
Date: exact 340 BC - exact 339 BC

H. 0.80 m.

Primary Citation: ABV, 414-15.2; Para, 178; Beazley Addenda 2, 108.
Shape: Panathenaic amphora
Beazley Number: 303148
Region: Campania
Period: Late Classical

Date Description:

Archonship of Theophrastos, precisely dated by epigraphical evidence.


Intact except for a break through the neck, now repaired. Minor scratches and abrasion. The added white has flaked off in many places, particularly on the face of Olympias.

Decoration Description:

Side A: Athena Promachos. The goddess is of the type standard after ca. 359 B.C., striding to the right with her spear raised in her right hand and her shield held nearly horizontal on her left arm, so that one sees its interior rather than the device on the outside. She wears an Attic helmet with an S-shaped crest-holder; the cheep-flaps are raised. Both the collar and lower border of her long chiton are in added white. Over the chiton, secured by a belt, is a shorter garment, the hem of which is indicated by a zigzag of white dots across the thighs. A swallowtailed wrap is draped over her shoulders, an archaistic feature emphasized by the border of added white. The aegis is suggested by crossing cords of added white; to judge from the Athenas on similar vases, these may have met in the center at a small gorgoneion, but this has been lost. The goddess's white skin is better preserved, and one can see clearly the facial features and such details as her sandals, her pendant earring, and the bracelet on her right wrist, all rendered in brown diluted glaze over the white. Her head and arm overlap the tongues on the neck, emphasizing her divine stature and status. On either side of Athena are tall Doric colonnettes, the left one topped by a small figure of Athena in profile to right and carrying a tiller, the right one by a small figure of Zeus standing frontal and holding his scepter and an even tinier figure of Nike. Zeus' presence reinforces the unusual Olympic symbolism found on Side B. Side B: Two young boxers, nude except for the leather thongs (cestoi) on their hands, stand frontally, their heads turned to the right to listen to a bearded official, who gestures toward them with his right hand. The official wears a himation and white wreath and carries a white wand (rhabdos), the symbol of his authority. Like a modern referee, he is perhaps reviewing the rules with the fighters at the beginning of the bout. The winner may go on to even greater glory, for the Olympic Games are present in the form of a woman labeled as Olympias, who leans on a white column at left, her enveloping himation pulled taut over her arms and concealing the lower half of her face. Her body is turned to the left, but she looks back to observe the beginning of the contest. The added white of her face is largely lost, but not the thinned glaze of her knotted hair. Like the other figures on Side B, she is quite tall, with a smallish head: proportions Beazley rightly termed "Lysippean."

The reserved figure panels are large, leaving only narrow strips of black on the sides. The lower body is black, as is the foot, save for a reserved groove. The handles are also black, and also the side of the mouth. The steep shoulder is decorated on either side with a broad band of tongues. Above these, the neck proper — decorated on either side with lotus and palmettes chains — is set off by a pair of reserved fillets.

Shape Description:

Standard shape of Beazley's Nikomachos Series, with tall neck, sharply constricted upper and lower body, broad flaring mouth, and generally attenuated proportions. The size is consistent with that of other prize amphorae, which contained a metretes (over 10 gallons) of oil from the sacred grove of Athena.


On Side A are two vertical inscriptions in kionedon running parallel to the inside of each column shaft. The one at left is the standard prize formula: *T*O*N *A*Q*E*N*E*Q*E*N *A*Q*L*O*N ("a prize from the games at Athens"). The inscription at right gives the name of the eponymous archon, Theophrastos, in whose term of office the olive oil was collected: *Q*E*O*F*R*A*S*T*O*S *H*R*X*E. On Side B, an inscription to the right of her head gives the name of Olympias: *O*L*M*P*I*A*S.

Collection History:

Bequest of Joseph C. Hoppin. Bought in Rome in 1899.

Sources Used:

CVA, Hoppin-Gallatin; Beazley 1951.

Other Bibliography:

CVA, Hoppin-Gallatin, USA 1, 6, pl. 6; Beazley 1951, 98-99.