Side B: oblique view from the left

Side A: flying bird

Side A: Hector.

Side B: horseman at right, detail of head and body. Flying bird.

Side B: horseman at left, birds

Side A: Helen, detail of head and body.

Collection: Martin von Wagner Museum, University of Würzburg
Summary: Side A: Helen and Paris, Andromache and Hector, Kebriones riding a horseSide B: Horsemen. BirdsUnder the handles: man running; youth walking
Ware: Chalcidian Black Figure
Painter: Attributed to the Inscription Painter
Context: From Vulci
Date: ca. 540 BC

H. with lid 0.457 m. Without lid 0.379 m.

Primary Citation: FR, II, pl. 101
Shape: Krater
Region: Etruria
Period: Archaic


Small gaps. The added white in the face, arms and feet of Helen and Andromache is often missing

Decoration Description:

Side A: Two Homeric couples, Helen and Paris, Andromache and Hector, and Kebriones, Hector's squire. All the figures are inscribed. In the center of the scene, which is not symmetrically arranged, Hector takes his leave from Andromache; on the left are Helen and Paris, and on the right Kebriones with horses. From left to right, Helen, with a band on her head, wrapped in a purple himation, turns her face away from Paris who is looking at her. The white of her face is fairly well preserved. Near her legs there is the inscription of her name: (retr.) [epig-rough]*E*L*E*N*E. Next to her, Paris (Alexandros), facing to the left, is dressed like an archer, in short purple chiton carrying a bow in his hand a bow-case and quiver on his back. He wears a winged boots and is named *P*A*R*I[*S] (retr.) in the inscription in front of his head.

The next figure to the right is Andromache, who, dressed in a long chiton, opens up to her husband her purple himation which covers most of her body as well as her head. The white which covered her flesh has largely gone, leaving a dull black surface. The inscription *A*N*D*R*O*M*A*X*E (retr.) is behind her, near her legs. She is conversing with Hector who is the main and tallest figure of the composition. He faces to the left, dressed like an hoplite, with Chalcidian helmet, purple metal corslet, purple greaves, shield and carries a spear. On the shield is represented a swooping eagle as blazon. His tall helmet breaks the decoration on the shoulder. Under the helmet there is the inscription (retr.) *E*K*T*O*R. His face is contoured with incision.

Behind Hector in the right part of the vase a youth mounted on one horse and leading another. He must be Hector's squire and is called Kebriones by the inscription (retr.) *K*E[*B*R*I]*O*N*E*S. Behind him is an eagle in flight. The second horse is presumably for Hector who is leaving for the battlefield.

Side B: Two youths dressed in short purple tight-fitting chitons are galloping on horses. In the free spaces of the side there are four birds. Arias suggests that one of them seems to be a duck, the rest are birds of prey; Simon suggests they are a vulture, a swan, and two other kind of birds. Much use of the purple for details on the horses and birds which are between the horses' legs, or flying in the background. The horses are large black magnificent animals. The one at right is bending his head down.

Under the handles there are two small figures. Under the left one, a bearded nude male running; his face is contoured with incision. Under the right, a walking man wearing a purple chlamys.

There is almost no doubt about the interpretation of the scenes in this extraordinary Chalcidian krater. It was assumed that the presence of the two Homeric couples on side A set the scene in Book 6 of Homer's Iliad (Hom. Il. 6.340ff; Hom. Il. 6.484ff), the leave-taking for the battle of Paris and Hector. But probably it refers to two different moments of the Iliad. Simon, and with her most of the authors in LIMC, for example, claim that, while for Hector and Andromache this is the moment of the farewell described in Hom. Il. 6.484ff, Paris is not leaving, but arriving from the battlefield released by Aphrodite as in book 3 of the Iliad (Hom. Il. 3.427ff). In this regard Paris' winged shoes are considered a proof of the divine intervention of Aphrodite, saving him from the attack of Menelaos and bringing him safe back to Helen. Simon claims that the painter's intention was to put together in opposition two very different Homeric couples in two different and contrasting moments: Helen and Paris, with her turning her face away from him and regretting seeing him back safe from the attack of his former husband Menelaus, and Hector and Andromache at the moment he is leaving for the battle. However, their son Astyanax, an important character in this tense moment, is not present in the picture. The result is a thoughtful composition consciously asymmetric in the form and in the meaning. The figure of Kebriones, Hector's squire — in some sources his half brother — is of special interest, in that he is surprisingly represented as a horseman, instead of as a charioteer, as he is generally shown.

The representation on side B seems to be mostly decorative. This may be no more than a new interpretation of the ancient frieze of galloping horsemen, but it might also be seen as the battle that is going on while the meetings on side A are taking place.

The figures of small naked youths and men running under the handles recall the same type of figures used many times on the works of The Affecter (see the figures on Würzburg L 176). The presence of this type of figures gives a sense of continuity to the scenes on both sides which is not completely real. It seems to respond to a phase in the concept of the decoration of the entire vessel: half way between the continuous frieze and the two separated scenes, each one with a complete sense.

The lip of the krater flares out slightly and is decorated with a dense stepped pattern. The neck is black but decorated on each side with four solid circles in purple surrounded by white dots. At the junction of neck and shoulder a tongue pattern, black and purple. Underneath the figure scene a zone of linked buds and flowers of buxom type typical of Chalcidian, then vertically sloping zig-zag lines, followed by rays springing from the base the foot. The disk is black on its top surface and purple on the upper third of the side. The rest of the side is reserved. A thick fillet painted purple at junction of body and foot.

Lid: On the lid is painted an old animal motif. From the center outwards rays, then linked flowers and buds, then a circular frieze consisting of seven large black boars moving to the left. It recalls the old animal friezes on the Chalcidian vases, but the trick of overlapping two of the animals changes the impression and turns it from a simple frieze to a living, running flock of boars. Much purple and incision. Filling rosettes

Shape Description:

This is one of the four different types of kraters most frequently used in the Chalcidian production. Lid with knob fashioned in the shape of a small vase. The handles are stirrup-shaped rather than columns, and their peculiar form occurs also on Corinthian and Laconian kraters


Beside each figure on side A the correspondent name: (retr.) [epig-rough]*E*L*E*N*E, (retr.) *P*A*R*I[*S], (retr.)*A*N*D*R*O*M*A*X*E, (retr.) *E*K*T*O*R, (retr.) *K*E[*B*R*I]*O*N*E*S

Collection History:

From Collection Feoli

Sources Used:

Rumpf 1927, 14, pl. 31/34: Inschriften Maler; Brommer 1973, 400,2; Arias & Hirmer 1962, 311, pls. XXVI, 75- 76; Simon 1975b, 83f, pl. 17; LIMC, 1, s.v. Alexandros no. 68, with plate; s.v. Andromache I, 4; 2, s.v. Helene, 193; s.v. Hektor 13.

Other Bibliography:

Schefold 1978, 199, fig. 271; CMV, GrA, 83, fig. 88; Beckel et al. 1983, 46, n. 16