Side B, neck: Aktaion and two dogs at right

Side B, neck: woman at left (Artemis?), from the waist down

Side A, neck: bearded man at left

Side A: oblique from left

Side B, neck: dog at lower left

Side A: Apollo, branch in left arm

Collection: Cambridge, Harvard University Art Museums
Summary: Side A: Orestes at Delphi; Phrixos sacrificing ram; Side B: Greeks fighting barbarians; Death of Aktaion.
Ware: Lucanian Red Figure
Painter: Attributed to the Choephoroi Painter
Date: ca. 350 BC - ca. 340 BC

H. 0.531 m.

Primary Citation: Trendall 1967, 125, no. 644, pl. 62, 4-6; Trendall 1967, Suppl. III, 73.
Shape: Nestoris
Period: Late Classical


Broken and repaired, with repainting of cracks; added color lost in many places.

Decoration Description:

Side A: Orestes at Delphi. In the center, Orestes kneels on the omphalos at Delphi, the added color of which is largely worn away. Some adjacent rocks in added white indicate the terrain. Orestes wears deerskin boots with rolled down tops (embades) and a chlamys with a black, dentilated border (the same border is on all the cloaks worn by males on the vase). With his left hand he holds a scabbard and with his right holds up a sword, as though protecting himself from the Fury at left. His violent movement is emphasized by the billowing of the chlamys. The Fury has short, curly hair and wears a short, dotted chiton and belt; the added white of her wings has largely worn away. She gestures toward Orestes with her left hand and with her right hand makes a gesture which, although indecipherable, seems filled with meaning. Seated next to her, at lower left, is a woman wearing shoes, chiton, himation, necklace, and bracelets. She touches her left shoulder as she looks at Orestes, whose eyes are instead riveted on the Fury. Apollo approaches from the right, his right arm raised in a benediction, his left hand, hidden by his bordered himation, clutching a laurel branch in added white. He wears a white wreath. In the field above are two white bucrania (ox skulls) with fillets trailing from the horns, identifying the setting as a place of sacrifice.

Side A, neck: The setting is Colchis, at the eastern end of the Black Sea. The youthful Phrixos is leading the ram with the golden fleece to be sacrificed at the altar at left. Phrixos is nude except for embades, the chlamys pinned at his throat, and the petasos hanging behind his head. With his right hand he holds the horn of the ram, the animal which bore him to Colchis and from whose back his sister Helle had fallen into the sea, giving the Hellespont its name. At left stands the bearded Aietes, king of Colchis, holding his scepter in his right hand, his left hand hidden beneath his bordered himation. He turns his face in three-quarter view to look at Phrixos, who will soon marry his daughter Chalkiope, probably to be identified with the woman at right. The princess wears a belted peplos, bracelets, necklace, and a mantle over her head, which she touches with her right hand. At far right stands a youth in barbarian garb, a Colchian, holding a spear in his left hand and gesturing with his right. He wears a short, belted tunic over a second, long-sleeved tunic, the former decorated with palmettes, the latter with dots. A bordered cloak is pinned at his throat and he wears a Phrygian helmet with a spikey crest. The altar, at far left, sits on a low, two-stepped platform, on the lower step of which sits an oinochoe. The altar, which extends off-stage to the left, has a molding of dentils, and its sides are streaked with dilute glaze representing blood.

Side B: Two Greeks are fighting two barbarians, probably Trojans. The action is in two tiers, upper and lower, with the Greeks at left and the Trojans at right. The nude, bearded Greek at lower left charges to the right, his left leg advanced. He wears a Chalcidian helmet with a low crest and decorated bowl; his bordered chlamys billows out behind him. His shield is on his left arm, its interior fully revealed. With his right hand he thrusts at his opponent's shield with a long spear or sarissa, which has a pointed bronze butt. The beardless Trojan leans back before the assault, but with his right hand prepares to retaliate with a hatchet-like axe of a type commonly carried by Amazons. Indeed, the warrior may be an Amazon, an ally of the Trojans, although the male Colchian on the neck of side B is not dressed much differently. This Trojan wears a Phrygian helmet with a horsehair crest and spiral ornament, trousers and long-sleeved tunic decorated with zigzags, a short chiton decorated with embroidered designs, shoes, and a fancy belt. The shield on his left arm has a "Macedonian" star device; he clutches a pair of short throwing spears in his left hand. The second Trojan, above, is nude except for a billowing chlamys and a Phrygian helmet with spikey crest and spiral ornament. He carries a bow in his left hand (but no quiver) and a spear in his right, and like his compatriot is clean-shaven. His bearded Greek opponent is nearly identical to the first Greek, charging with the left leg advanced, the chlamys billowing behind, and he too is bearded. Unlike the other Greek, however, he wears a pilos helmet, which has fallen on the back of his head, and holds his spear with a different grip. Stylized plants grow between and behind the legs of the first Greek.

Side B, neck: The death of Aktaion, the hunter whom Zeus ordered Artemis to kill for attempting to woo Semele, the future mother of Dionysos (see Apollodoros, Apollod. 3.4.4). Aktaion is in the center, attacked by four of his dogs: two at left and two at right. He is nude except for embades and a bordered chlamys, draped over his left arm. He raises a sword with his right hand in a futile defense. A pair of horns sprouting from his head mark his transformation into a stag. The dog at lower left has sunk his teeth into Aktaion's right thigh, and a stream of blood, rendered with dilute glaze, is streaming down. Artemis stands quietly at left, her right leg relaxed and her right hand resting on her hip; only in later Hellenistic and Roman versions of the story is she shown surprised at her bath by Aktaion. The goddess wears embades, a necklace, a short, belted chiton, and a fawn skin tinted with brown dilute glaze. Her hair is tied in a chignon and she holds a pair of spears in her left hand. Before her grows a small tree or bush, suggestive of the wooded setting. At the right, a woman is seated on a pile of stones amid stylized foliage. She is probably Gargaphia, the nymph of the spring on Mt. Kithairon, where the action occurred. She wears a chiton, a necklace with white beads, bracelets (the right one touched with added white), and a spotted hairband. Her bordered himation has fallen around her legs. She touches or plucks at her right shoulder as she watches Aktaion punished for his hubris.

Below the rim on either side: laurel wreath below a narrow band of egg-pattern. On either shoulder: band of enclosed, upright palmettes with lotus blossoms in the interstices. Bands of tongues circle the roots of the horizontal handles. The scenes on the neck are framed laterally by crude ivy vines. Circling the lower body above a zone of rays is a band consisting of groups of four maeanders to left alternating with cross-squares. On the body below the handles and framing the figure scenes are palmettes enclosed and linked by coiling tendrils, with buds, circles, and dotted and quadrated disks in the interstices. "Macedonian" stars on the rotelles; laurel wreaths on the sides of the handles, and black ivy vines with berries on the sides of the flanges; foot black with reserved lower base; rim reserved.

Shape Description:

Nestoris of type 2: concave neck, offset shoulder, gradually tapering lower body, tall stemmed foot, narrow torus rim, two flanged, high-swung, vertical handles with rotelles at the tops and sides, and two horizontal handles.

The nestoris, with its distinctive high-swung handles, is descended from the native Italic trozzella. The shape is mostly confined to Lucania, being rare in Apulia and not found at all in Campania. This example is of the later variety (shape 2), with a well-defined shoulder and neck.

Other Bibliography:

Robinson exhibition catalogue 1961, no. 146; Trendall, Studies Robinson, pl. 43b; Trendall 1989, fig. 92; LIMC, I, 354, pl. 272, Aietes 8; LIMC, I, 458, pl. 353, Aktaion 45; LIMC, II, 732, Artemis 1404; LIMC, III, 833, Erinys 59; LIMC, IV, 171, Gargaphia 3; A. Kossatz-Deissmann, Dramen des Aischylos auf westgriechischen Vasen (Mainz 1978) pl. 27, 2.