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151. 03.788 HYDRIA PLATE LXXXVI, 2

Bought in Athens, so probably from Greece. Height as restored (base and foot are modern) 0.325. Brommer Satyroi fig. 18, whence Bull. van de Vereeniging 17 p. 11 (van Hoorn); Brommer Satyrspiele p. 14; [F. F. Jones] The Theater in Ancient Art fig. 1; Hesp. 24 pl. 86 b. Scene from a satyr-play. About 470-460 B.C.: Mannerist Group (VA. p. 121; Att. V. p. 250 no. 33), and very close to the Leningrad Painter if not his work (ARV.1 p. 377 no. 5); definitely assigned to him in ARV.2 p. 571 no. 75.

I have discussed this vase in Hesperia 24, pp. 309-11, and part of what follows is repeated from there.

The side of the mouth is black, the topside of it reserved. The hydria is of the same type as no. 150, which is from the same workshop.

The picture, as Edward Robinson recognized, represents a scene from a satyr-play.1 Five satyrs are shown. In two of them the middle of the body is missing. The other three wear the distinctive drawers of the satyr-play: they are therefore not simply satyrs, but satyrs of drama. Facing them is the flute-player, in formal costume, who in drama provides the music. He bends a little as he plays, and beats time with his right foot. Behind him, up against the side-border, an old man dressed in a himation stands looking on. He is not characterized as an actor or other performer: in such pictures there is often a 'civilian', who is hard to name: our man is perhaps the choregus, but might also be a character in the play.

The fractures are repainted. In the foremost satyr, parts of the thighs, of the knees, of the left forearm, are modern, also the right foot, and the right foot of the satyr behind him.

The satyrs dance up in various attitudes. The leader has just set down one leg of a piece of furniture — couch or throne — on a low platform. The other three legs are carried by the three satyrs who follow him. The throne or couch is being put together for some kind of celebration. In the remaining satyr the back of the head is concealed by the side-border, and the face except the forehead is among the parts now missing. He too brings a piece of furniture or part of one. In the play, other satyrs, the rest of the chorus, may have fetched other requisites, or may have been content to encourage the workers and get in their way. One may fancy that the job was not done without much jostling and confusion, and some knocks and tumbles, grunts, howls, and screams.

The rectangular legs fetched by the first four satyrs are of a familiar type which would suit either couch or throne, but a couch is perhaps the more likely. The thing held by the fifth satyr might be expected to be another part of the same piece of furniture; but it appears to be something else, a seat with stretchers and turned legs, held, of course, upside down, and the foot cut off by the upper border. I cannot quote an exact parallel to the shape, but for the leg compare the wooden one in Richter Ancient Furniture fig. 94, and for the stretchers ibid. figs. 8 and 38. If the two objects are couch and seat, one thinks of those many reliefs and pictures in which a god, a hero, or a man reclines on a couch, while a woman sits facing him on a chair or stool.

It will have been noticed that the leg already in position ends differently below from the others, as if it were set into a block. One might expect the block for the second leg to be represented as well, but it is not. As to the platform, a platform is necessary wherever there is no proper floor, or where the floor is uneven. Such platforms are often shown in symposion scenes on vases, for instance on the cup by Douris in the British Museum, or on those by the Euaion Painter in the Louvre.2

The hair of the satyrs is rendered in an unusual manner, which Brommer may be right in attributing to the influence of the stage-mask. Three of the satyrs wear a cord, by way of amulet, round one ankle, and two at least of them a similar cord round the right wrist: see ii p. 39 (Boston 76.46). The flute-player has short hair and a trim beard. He is dressed in a long, sleeved garment of thick material, ornamented with black circles, the centres of which are marked in brown. The shoes have the same dot-and-circle ornament as the robe. A spotted chaplet is worn, a wreath, and the phorbeia. On this costume, and on other matters concerning scenes from drama on vases, see Hesp. 24 pp. 305-19.

The hair and beard of the old man, as often in figures of old men on vases, are left blank.

Relief-contours throughout.

It has been proposed to associate the picture with the Thalamopoioi of Aeschylus, which may have been a satyr-play: but what little is known about the Thalamopoioi (the name, and a two-line quotation) does not correspond to what is depicted.

The chief guest might be Herakles: satyrs are sometimes shown waiting on him, and on a famous Italiote vase in Taranto Herakles is seen reclining and a satyr bringing him a table:3 but other possibilities are numberless.


B. H. Hill, AJA 35 (1931), p. 52; T. B. L. Webster, Hesperia 29 (1960), p. 256, note 10; Bieber 1961, pp. 6-7, fig. 15; Robsjohn-Gibbings & Pullin 1963, p. 34, illus.; H. Hoffmann, AntK 7 (1964), p. 69; F. Brommer, AA 79 (1964), col. 109; T. B. L. Webster, 1967, Monuments Illustrating Tragedy and Satyr Play (BICS Suppl. 20), 2nd ed. with appendix, London, Institute of Classical Studies, pp. 46 (AV 14), 145; Para., p. 390, no. 75; T. B. L. Webster, Gnomon 45 (1973), p. 612; Drougou 1975, pp. 66, 113, note 150; Boardman 1975, pp. 180, 183 (fig. 325), 223, 234, 247; A. Kossatz-Deissmann, JdI 97 (1982), pp. 69-70 (fig. 5), 78; Kurtz & Sparkes 1982, pp. 135-136, 138, 141, pl. 36b (E. Simon); Beazley Addenda 1, p. 128; P. Levi, in J. Boardman, et al., 1986, The Oxford History of the Classical World, p. 172, illus.; Burn 1987, p. 51; E. Simon, 1989, in Festschrift für Nikolaus Himmelmann, p. 201, note 12; Beazley Addenda 2, p. 261.


1 BMFA Report 1903 p. 71 no. 57.

2 London E 49: WV. 6 pl. 10, whence Hoppin i p. 241. Louvre G 466 and Louvre G 467: Pottier pl. 150.

3 CV. IV Dr pl. 26.

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