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104. 95.23 CALYX-KRATER from Orvieto SUPPL. PLATE 14 and SUPPL. PLATE 13, 2

From the excavations of Riccardo Mancini. The drawings are by Caskey. Height 0.438, diameter 0.4785. Side-view, Jacobsthal O. pl. 61, b; the shape, Caskey G. p. 124. A, Zeus pursuing Thetis; B, a Nereid running to Nereus. About 470-460 B.C., by the Fröhner Painter (ARV. p. 417 no. 2).

A: Zeus runs to right, both arms extended, the sceptre in his right hand. A woman flees from him, looking back, her arms at full stretch. Behind Zeus another woman also flees, looking back, her arms extended as before. B: a third woman flees to an old man, both arms stretched out towards him; he holds a sceptre. Between the two is a flaming altar, with a palm-tree behind it.

The inscriptions on A are meaningless, on B have meaning. On A, ΛΟΑΛ, ΛΟΝ with room for one letter in the break aft, and ΛΟΝΑ, the last letter being formless. On B, ΚΑΛΟΣ between the woman and the tree, ΝΕΡΕΥΣ between the tree and the man, who is therefore Nereus.

Zeus wears a thick chitoniskos with a pattern of small crosses, and broad borders — spirals above and below, slanting palmettes at the ends of the sleeves; over both arms, a fringed wrap; round the head a wreath of small leaves. The pursued woman wears a chiton of the same material as Zeus's, with a pattern of small crosses, and ess-borders above, in the middle, below, and at the sleeves; over the chiton, a himation of 'Ionic' fashion, leaving right breast and shoulder free; bracelet, earrings; a long head-band with fringed ends and a pattern of saltire-squares. Her companion wears a linen chiton, with a kolpos, and a wrap over both shoulders; necklace, earrings, a stephane or circlet with leaves in front. The woman on the reverse wears the same kind of chiton, with a himation, shawl-wise, over her shoulders; earrings and a long fringed head-band. Nereus is dressed in a long chiton and himation. His sceptre ends in a palmette. The volutes of the altar run up to a point half-way between them and are ornamented with palmettes and petal-filling; below this, tongue-pattern. At each handle, a plant-palmette.

The contours are in relief lines. The forehead-hair on A is rendered by raised dots; in the forehead-hair of the woman on B, the dots are not raised so high. The hair and beard of Nereus are reserved. The borders of Zeus' chiton are in relief. In the figure of Zeus, brown inner markings, including the collar-bones. The eyelashes of the pursued are in brown; the lids of the woman on the reverse have a brown outer edging. Red for the fillet of Nereus, the flame, and the inscriptions.

Since the old man to whom the maiden on the back of the vase flees is Nereus, and since the picture on the back is clearly a continuation of the picture on the front, she and her two companions must be daughters of Nereus. Zeus is pursuing a Nereid. The only Nereid whom Zeus is heard of as favouring is the eldest, Thetis. He never enjoyed her: Themis warned Zeus and Poseidon that Thetis was destined to bear a son stronger than his father; they therefore retired and gave her in marriage to a mortal, Peleus. Others said that Thetis herself, in gratitude to Hera who had reared her, resisted Zeus, who in anger gave her to a mortal. Διὸς ὁρμῶντος ἐπὶ τὴν ταύτης συνουσίαν... (Apollod. 3.12.5); Ζεὺς ἐρασθεὶς τῆς Θέτιδος τῆς Νηρέως ἐδίωκεν αὐτὴν βουλόμενος βιάσασθαι (schol. Hom. Il. 1, 519). That should be the subject of our picture.

It might perhaps be held that the inscription Nereus was due to an error of the vase-painter's: that he substituted the sea-god Nereus for the river-god Asopos; and that the maiden pursued by Zeus is Aigina, who is named on other vases. This, however, is not the only picture of Zeus pursuing a sea-nymph: there are two others. One of them is on a Nolan amphora by the Providence Painter in Boston (Boston 03.789: no. 91, ii p. 44): a man wearing long chiton and himation, and holding a sceptre, pursues a woman who holds a dolphin. The other is on a column-krater by the Agrigento Painter in Oxford (Oxford 1927.1: CV. pl. 60, 5-6: ARV. p. 378 no. 3): a man with a cloak over his shoulders and a sceptre in his hand pursues a woman who holds a dolphin; a companion precedes her and an altar is seen; one of the three fleeing women on the reverse of the vase also holds a dolphin. The figure with the sceptre in these two vases can hardly be other than Zeus.1 Poseidon is perhaps just possible. Poseidon is given a sceptre instead of a trident by Makron on the skyphos in the British Museum (London E 140; Mon. 9 pl. 43; Hoppin Rf. 2 p. 61; FR. pl. 161; ARV. p. 301 no. 3), but he is also given a dolphin there, so that even without the inscription there would be no doubt who he was.2

Were it not for the inscription Nereus on the reverse of the Boston krater, two other names might have had to be considered for the woman: Dione is numbered by Hesiod among the daughters of Okeanos (Hes. Th. 353), and he may possibly have thought of her as that spouse of Zeus to whom he doubtless refers at the beginning of the poem (Hes. Th. 17); while, as D. S. Robertson reminded me, Nemesis, according to the Cypria (fr. vii Allen), transformed herself into a fish to escape the embraces of Zeus.

Fragments of a large volute-krater, from the Fröhner bequest, in the Cabinet des Médailles, are the only other work of this painter hitherto identified (ARV. p. 417, above, no. 1). The picture on the body is finer than in the Boston vase, the minor picture of Peleus and Thetis on the neck is of about the same quality (Le Musée 2 p. 193 fig. 7). The massive, grandiose figures bear some affinity to those of the Altamura Painter, but also to those of other contemporary artists, such as the Oreithyia Painter or the Aegisthus.


EAA, III, p. 741, fig. 911 (E. Paribeni); P. E. Corbett, BMQ 24 (1961), p. 99, note 3; ARV2, p. 510, no. 3; E. Vermeule, AJA 70 (1966), p. 22; J. M. Hemelrijk, BABesch 48 (1973), p. 180, under no. 4; Kaempf-Dimitriadou 1979, pp. 24, 94, no. 215; Brize 1980, p. 172, NER VI 22; Brommer 1980, p. 45, no. B 19; D. Rupp, AJA 84 (1980), p. 526; Schefold 1981, pp. 225-226, 356, note 473; C. Sourvinou-Inwood, BICS 32 (1985), pp. 126, 138, note 29; Padgett 1989, p. 257; Arafat 1990, pp. 85-87, 192, no. 3.60; Frank 1990, pp. 215 (no. 104), 221-222 (fig. 6), 226-227.


1 Another possible instance is on a column-krater, from Pulsano, in Taranto, by the Syracuse Painter (ARV. p. 352 no. 5): a bearded god pursues a woman who holds a dolphin: he holds either a sceptre or a trident, I thought a sceptre.

2 I do not count the 'Poseidons' on a pair of pelikai, by the Painter of the Birth of Athena, in the Villa Giulia: see ii p. 90.

hide References (3 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (3):
    • Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library, 3.12.5
    • Hesiod, Theogony, 17
    • Hesiod, Theogony, 353
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