Image access restricted
Overview: main panel

Image access restricted
Main panel: scene at center, Athena with shield

Collection: Munich, Antikensammlungen
Summary: Achilles and Troilos? or Neoptolemos and Astyanax? On shoulder: Wall of Troy
Ware: Attic Black Figure
Painter: Attributed to the Antiope Group
Context: From Vulci
Date: ca. 520 BC - ca. 500 BC

H. 0.0475 m.

Primary Citation: ABV, 362.27, 357, 695; Para, 161; Beazley Addenda 2, 96
Shape: Hydria
Beazley Number: 302022
Region: Etruria
Period: Archaic

Decoration Description:

Body: At the left of the composition the horses of a quadriga are shown coming through a gate. Behind them are a warrior in a Corinthian helmet and a Scythian archer. In the center of the composition Athena stands facing left. She holds a spear in her right hand, and a shield in her left hand. The shield is decorated with a border in added red and a leg in added white. Athena wears an aegis with snaky edges, and a helmet with a very tall crest. Under the shield of Athena crouches an old man whose age is rendered through baldness and the use of added white for his hair and beard. The old man faces to the right wrapped in a mantle and gesturing with his right hand. At the right of the composition, a warrior holds a small child in his right hand over his shoulder about to dash it to the ground. The warrior wears a corslet over a chitoniskos, a Corinthian helmet, and a sword at his waist. He holds his shield which is seen in back view on his left arm. His two spears lean against a tripod on a three step base at the far right of the scene.

Shoulder:The walls of Troy. The crenelated line of the battlements of the walls of Troy are placed along the break in the vase from the body to the shoulder. Soldiers and women are shown in the openings of the crenellations. At the left of the composition, facing right, a Scythian archer prepares to draw his bow. Next to him a soldier facing right is partially obscured behind a crenellation. In the center of the scene, a warrior faces left, carrying a shield shown in profile view and wearing a Corinthian helmet with a tall crest. In the next opening, two figures are shown. An old man, depicted with beard and hair in added white, faces left and gestures down at the scene below. In front of and partially obscuring the old man is a warrior standing up from behind the protection of the battlements. He faces left and has his helmet pushed up in order to drink from a horn held in his right hand. In the next crenellation two women, wearing fillets are shown watching the action below and gesturing. At the extreme right of the composition, there are two more women shown. The background of this scene is filled with the branches of the tree that grows in the scene on the body of the vase.

The identification of the scene or scenes on this vase is very problematic. To begin with, are the shoulder and the body two separate scenes or are they meant to be read as one scene? The answer to this question determines how one reads the scene on the body. Wiencke 1954 interprets the decoration of the vase as a series of independent scenes; the chariot on the left separate from the scene of killing on the right, and the battlements scene on the shoulder. He interprets the scene on the right of the body as the Ilioupersis with Priam crouching in horror as Neoptolemus kills Astyanax. Mota 1957, 28-29 reads the scene on the shoulder as the Trojan celebration when the Greeks falsely withdraw, and the body as the Ilioupersis. However, several features suggest that the scenes on the body and the shoulder go together. Shapiro 1991 has pointed out how the painter uses the structure of the vase to convey architecture of the city, bonding vase structure and decoration, and he emphasizes the mourning gestures of the women, which link them to the scene below. Also the repeated breaking of the border between the two scenes leads the viewer to see them as one. Reading the shoulder and body as one scene, Boardman 1974, following Beazley 1986, interprets the vase as Achilles killing Troilos in front of the walls of Troy. Such an interpretation calls for the viewer to understand a compression of distance, with Priam as not present at the killing but actually far away. The vase appears to blend elements of the iconography of both Achilles and Troilos, and Neoptolemos and Astyanax as Dugas 1937, 24 suggested. The artist probably intended to depict Achilles and Troilos for the use of the figures on the battlements is very unusual (a scene of combat from the battlements can be found on Malibu 84.AE.38 and would fit better with this story, but he does not follow the standard iconography for the killing). The image of a warrior with a child grasped by the ankle belongs firmly to the death of Astyanax. Troilos is shown usually as killed by a sword.

The Antiope Group is a subdivision of the Leagros Group, contemporaries of the red figure Pioneers. Hydriai are the favorite shape for the workshop and scenes from the Trojan war are a favorite theme. The full picture field and the team of horses emerging from the frame of the picture are standard typical of compositions by the Leagros Group.


There are extensive nonsense inscriptions on both the shoulder and body of the vase.


Johnston 1979, 63 notes the presence of an obscured graffito.

Sources Used:

Monumenti Inediti I, pl. 34; Johnston 1979; Boardman 1974, 110-111; Beazley 1986, 77; Shapiro 1991, 643; Wiencke 1954, 298-299; Mota 1957, 25-44; Hurwit 1991, 55; Dugas 1937, 5-26; LIMC, I, Achilleus, no. 382; LIMC, II, Astyanax I, no. 29