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148. 95.39 LEKYTHOS from Eretria PLATE LXXXIV, 1 and 4

Height 0.429. VA. p. 135, whence Philippart Iconographie des Bacchantes p. 18 and Cook Zeus iii p. 81 fig. 24; Fairbanks and Chase p. 36. The Birth of Dionysos from the thigh of Zeus. About 470-460 B.C., by the Alkimachos Painter (VA. pp. 135-6 and p. 138 no. 10; Att. V. p. 298 no. 25; ARV.1 p. 358 no. 47: ARV.2 p. 533 no. 58).

The foot, much fretted, is lipped. In shape the vase differs little from the contemporary lekythos by the Telephos Painter (no. 158), or, for that matter, from the Providence Painter's lekythoi (nos. 88-90). The shoulder-decoration is that conventional in full-sized lekythoi. There is a band of running maeander above the picture, and another below: it is our painter's favourite pattern.

Zeus, tall, long-backed, sits naked on a rock, over which he has spread his mantle, and with bent head and parted lips eases the infant Dionysos out of his left thigh. Hermes stands in front of him, looking on, holding both his own caduceus, butt to ground, and the sceptre of Zeus. He wears chitoniskos, chlamys, petasos, and winged boots. The long hair of Zeus is bound with a fillet, and also wreathed.

Restored, the ends of Zeus' beard, parts of the hair where it falls over shoulder and back, the upper part of his chest, his knees, part of his right foot. There is little relief-contour: for the front of Zeus' trunk, for his arms and left leg, for the brow of Hermes, his nape, the back of his left hand, the caduceus, the sceptre. Brown for the minor lines on the bodies and some of the detail in the winglets. Red for the wreaths of Zeus and Dionysos, the head-fillet (or petasos-strap) of Hermes, and the meaningless inscription in two lines, ΕΣΝΟΣΝ ΚΟΣΝ. Very similar combinations are common in our painter: his favourite letters are nu, omikron, and sigma. One example: on his Nolan amphora, from Brezovo, in Plovdiv.1

The picture has character, and the vase is one of the painter's better works, although it does not equal his other large lekythos, in Berlin.2

The subject is rare and this is the earliest example. See Philippart Iconographie des Bacchantes pp. 6-21; Greifenhagen in RM. 40 pp. 27-32; Trendall in JHS. 54 p. 176; Cook Zeus iii pp. 80-89; Fuhrmann in Jb. 60 pp. 107-11. The lists in Philippart and Cook include extraneous matter. The other vases with the subject are the following:

  • Bonn 1216.19, fragment of an Attic krater, about 425 B.C., by the Painter of the Athens Dinos (ARV. p. 796 no. 3). Philippart Ic. p. 19; JHS. 54 p. 76; CV. pl. 33, 9; Cook Zeus iii pl. 13, 3.
  • Taranto, Italiote volute-krater, late fifth century, by the Painter of the Birth of Dionysos, so-called after this vase (Trendall Frühit. p. 42 no. 91). JHS. 54 pll. 8-9; parts, Trendall Frühit. pl. 31 and cover; Cook Zeus iii pl. 13, 1-2; CV. IV Dr. pll. 19-26; part, Jb. 65-66 p. 109. In the Corpus I am stated to have attributed the vase to the Sisyphos Painter: what I had said was that it was not by him (V. Pol. p. 73, right).
  • Once Naples, Patierno. Lucanian. Gaz. arch. 1880 pp. 2-4, whence Cook Zeus iii p. 81 fig. 25. The group on the right, above, must be Apollo and Artemis, even if the simple, provincial painter has put a thyrsus in Apollo's hand. Apollo is present both on the Taranto vase and on the Etruscan mirror in Naples (Gerhard E.S. pl. 82, whence Cook Zeus iii p. 81 fig. 25).
To these we may add another lost vase, unless it be the same as the Patierno, which is unlikely: it was no. 36 in the sale of Sir Henry Englefield's collection (Christie, 6-8 March 1823) and was bought by Samuel Rogers; it sounds Italiote:—

'A vase with two handles Ord. 2 [this refers to the cataloguer's botanical classification of vase-shapes]. Front, Bacchus issuing from the thigh of Jupiter, committed to the care of the Nymphs of Nysa, with several accessory figures. Rev. Hercules inebriated, dancing between four satyrs. 26 In. high.'3

A well-known black-figured vase, of about 480 B.C., in the Cabinet des Médailles, the name-piece of the Diosphos Painter,4 has usually been supposed to represent the infantDionysos standing on the lap of Zeus: but Fuhrmann has given good reasons for rejecting this interpretation, and takes the child to be Hephaistos.5 The inscription remains puzzling.6 Fuhrmann also shows that the bell-krater by the Altamura Painter in Ferrara represents not Zeus with his son Dionysos, but Dionysos with his son Oinopion.7

The original birth of Dionysos, from Semele, is even rarer on vases than the second birth: the only example is on the hydria by the Semele Painter in Berkeley.8

AJA 11 (1907), p. 65; Walston 1926, pp. 162 (fig. 134), 179; Palmer 1962, p. 49, fig. 34; Zanker 1965, p. 80; A. D. Trendall and A. Cambitoglou, 1966, in Mélanges offerts à Kazimierz Michałowski, Warsaw, Panstwowe Wydawnictwa Naukowe, p. 677; Antike Plastik, VII (1967), p. 80, note 41 (G. Despinis); Schefold 1967b, pp. 19 (fig. 1), 22, 277; Para., p. 384, no. 58; Henle 1973, pp. 32, 174 (note 5); G. Schwarz, AntK 17 (1974), pp. 36 (note 8), 37 (note 21); F. Felten, AM 91 (1976), p. 91; K. Schefold, AntK 19 (1976), p. 76, pl. 16, 3; J. R. Green, AA 1978, p. 270, note 12; Loeb 1979, pp. 30-31, 286, no. D 1; Houser 1979, p. 104, MFA 12, illus. (M. Anderson); Kaempf-Dimitriadou 1979, p. 65, note 176; Brommer 1980, p. 17, no. II B 1; Schefold 1981, pp. 32 (fig. 25), 39, 73, 332, 362-363; Blech 1982, p. 188, note 42; Beazley Addenda 1, p. 124; F. Brommer, AA 1982, p. 77, note 50; Keuls 1985, pp. 41-42, fig. 20; F. Brommer, JdI 101 (1986), p. 46, no. 5; LIMC, III, 1, pp. 478 (no. 666), 505, III, 2, pl. 376, illus. (C. Gasparri and A. Veneri); Beazley Addenda 2, p. 255; Arafat 1990, pp. 41, 46-48, 50, 54, 187, no. 2.11, pl. 10a; LIMC, V, 1, p. 319, no. 370 (G. Siebert).

1 Rev. arch. 38 (1951) pp. 32-38, whence BCH. 1957 p. 150 and p. 155 fig. 12: ARV.2 p. 529 no. 11.

2 Berlin inv. 30035: see iii p. 70 footnote 1.

3 (From Addenda to Part III) P. 47: Bothmer has shown me that the Englefield-Rogers vase (Rogers sale catalogue no. 476) is no doubt the same as the Patierno. The Patierno is an amphora of panathenaic shape (Bothmer).

4 CV. pl. 75, 6-7 and pl. 76, 2. 3.

5 Jb. 65-66 pp. 107-21.

6 Haspels ABL. pp. 96-97.

7 Ferrara T. 311: NSc. 1927 pl. 16; Aurigemma 1 p. 149 and p. 147, 3 = 2 p. 179 and p. 177, 3; Jb. 65-66 p. 116; Alfieri and Arias Spina pll. 10-11: ARV.1 p. 414 no. 32; ARV.2 p. 593 no. 41.

8 Berkeley 8.3316: CV. pll. 47-50 and p. 49: ARV.1 p. 851, above, see no. 1: see the commentary by H. R. W. Smith in CV.; and Greifenhagen in BPW. 1938 pp. 1008-9.

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