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Side A: the ambush of Dolon

Name vase of the Dolon Painter: Overview of the vase, side B, showing a nu...

Name vase of the Dolon Painter: Drawing of side B, showing the ambush of D...

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Side A: Diomedes, Dolon, and Odysseus

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Three-dimensional approximation of the vase

Collection: London, British Museum
Summary: Side A: The ambush of Dolon
Side B: Two woman presenting wreaths to two youths.
Ware: Lucanian Red Figure
Painter: Name vase of the Dolon Painter
Context: From Pisticci
Date: ca. 380 BC

H. 0.502 m.

Primary Citation: Trendall 1967, no. 533; Trendall 1967, Suppl. III 59, D21
Shape: Calyx krater
Region: Basilicata
Period: Late Classical


On both sides, the figures are restored in places.

Decoration Description:

Side A: In the center of the composition between two leafless tree trunks is Dolon. His lower body is turned to the left, while he looks over his shoulder to the right. His legs are slightly bent and he appears to be tiptoeing. He has a moustache and whiskers, and wears a skin hat, a spotted skin knotted around his neck, and leggings. Under the skin cloak, he has a short chiton, and a quiver decorated with a wave pattern hangs at his left side. He holds a knotted spear in his right hand, which he is pointing at Diomedes, and in fright is just letting go of a bow held in his left hand. To the left, Odysseus steps out from behind one of the trees. His left hand is on Dolon's shoulder, and he prepares to drive him through with the sword in his right. Odysseus is bearded, and wears a pilos (cap), chlamys, and lace-up boots (endromides). On the right, Diomedes comes out from behind the other tree. He stretches out his right hand to seize Dolon, and in his left he holds two spears. He is bearded, and wears a crested helmet with cheek pieces, decorated with a crouching wolf, a chlamys, and lace-up boots. The mantles of Odysseus and Diomedes are decorated with black borders; Odysseus' also appears to be lined with spotted skin. The scene is bordered by two more tree trunks at the far edges.

Dolon was the only son of Eumedes, a Trojan herald. He went to spy on the Acheans at the encouragement of Hector, who promised him Achilles' horses as a reward. However, he was caught and killed by Odysseus and Diomedes. Trendall (11) thinks that this vase ". . . gives a burlesque version of a heroic theme, the ambush of Dolon as described by Homer (Hom. Il. 10.338 ff.), and may well have been influenced by the paintings of Zeuxis of Heraklea, who was famous for his caricatures." The figures are represented in very graceful positions, almost like a ballet (D'Agostino 1974, 258).

Side B: Two women offer wreaths to two youths. On the right is a youth clad in a mantle, in profile to the left. Before him stands a woman with her hair bound up in a diadem, wearing a necklace, and a belted chiton. She faces the youth, and holds up a wreath in her right hand, while in her left is an embroidered sash. Behind her in profile to the left is a naked youth. His left hand rests on his hip, and he reaches forward with his right to receive a wreath from the other woman. Her hair is long and curly, and she also wears a necklace and chiton, as well as a peplos. She offers the wreath with her right hand. All of the figures wear sandals.

On both sides, the upper band is a painted olive wreath, below which is an egg-and-dart pattern. The lower band is another egg-and-dart pattern, under which is an acanthus and palmette design.

Sources Used:

Trendall 1966, 11, pl. 3b; Smith 1896,132, 133; D'Agostino 1974, 258, pl. 110

Other Bibliography:

W.B. Stanford and J.V. Luce The Quest for Ulysses (London, 1974): 27, fig. 13; F. Lissarrague "Iconographie de Dolon le loup," RA 1 (1980): 11, 27, fig. 10; P. Levi Atlas of the Greek World (New York, 1984): 127