previous next

18. 10.176 SKYPHOS Athletes practising with jumping-weights PLATE VII

Height, 0.145 m.; diameter, 0.179 m. Broken, but preserved nearly complete, the only extensive lacuna being at the lower part of the figure of the trainer on side B. Relief lines used for the contours throughout, red paint for the fillets of the boy on side A and the trainer on side B, for the wreath of the trainer on side A, and for the strings of the oil-flasks. Thinned varnish represents the fair hair of the boy on side A, the whiskers of the athlete on side A, and of the trainer on side B, the hair on the chest of the bearded trainer, the holes in the sponges, the texture of the bags, the zigzag pattern on the cushion of the stool, as well as the faint inner markings on the bodies. In filling in the background the painter has obliterated the tips of the rods held by the trainers and the notched end of the strigil. The relief lines show the rod on side A extending nearly to the chest of the athlete, while that on side B rested on the ground.

From Greece. Ann. Rep., 1910, p. 62. Caskey, A.J.A. XIX, 1915, p. 132, Pls. VII, VIII, figs. 1, 2, 4. Beazley, V.A., p. 90, fig. 58. Hoppin, i, p. 127, no. 34. Pfuhl, fig. 425. Beazley, Att. V., p. 180, no. 69. Schröder, Der Sport im Altertum, Pl. 53. Gardiner, Athletics of the Ancient World, fig. 102. A drawing of the shape is given in Hambidge, Dyn. Sym., p. 111, fig. 15, and Caskey, G.G.V., p. 157, fig. 115.

The drawings on the two sides of the skyphos represent the same subject — an athlete practising with halteres under the direction of a trainer; but monotony is skilfully avoided by variations in the actions and poses of the figures and by a different choice and arrangement of the accessories.

On side A a youth is shown in a typical attitude of the long jump. His weight is on his bent right leg; his left is extended, with the ball of the foot touching the ground; his arms, with leaden halteres grasped in the hands, are swung forward to a little above the horizontal; his body is drawn back to maintain an equilibrium. The moment represented is at the end of the preliminary upward swing of the weights — the third stage in the Greek running long jump, as it has been convincingly reconstructed by E. Norman Gardiner.1 That the athlete is not actually executing a jump, but practising the motions, is shown by the action of the trainer, who stands facing him, leaning forward on his knotted stick, and holding out a long rod to emphasize the instructions he is giving. A small, fair-haired boy standing behind the jumper is also an interested spectator. With his left hand he holds the athlete's walking-stick, with his right his oil-bottle and sponge. Between the principal figures a pair of rods are shown stuck in the ground. These are javelins, ἀκόντια, as on the kylix, no. 34 (Boston 01.8075), described below, where the throwing-strap, ἀγκύλη, is shown bound round the shaft. The presence of these rods in the picture possibly has some definite significance: they may serve as guides to the jumper during the preliminary stages before the take-off. But, in view of their frequent appearance in athletic scenes, it seems more probable that they were merely intended to suggest the palaestra. A sling-shaped bag of leather with the fur left on it, hanging behind the athlete, suggests another event of the pentathlon. It was the usual receptacle for the discus, whereas jumping-weights were simply tied together.

On side B the positions of the athlete and the trainer are reversed. The former stands in profile to left, with his right leg advanced and his body bent forward slightly. His hands, holding a pair of heavy, stone halteres,2 are lowered, one being swung out to the front, the other to the rear. The action is in this case less clear; but probably the athlete is taking up his position for the preliminary short run at a spot marked by the crossed rods. He is measuring with his eye the ground to be traversed, but has not swung the left-hand weight to the front beside the other. The youthful trainer, wearing himation and shoes, leans upon a knotted staff propped under his left arm-pit and grasps a long rod with his right hand. The athlete's mantle is laid on a stool behind him, and above it his strigil, sponge, and aryballos are suspended. Behind the trainer is a pick used to loosen the ground of the σκάμμα, or landing-place for the jump, and a discus bag hangs above.

Unquestionably from the hand of the Brygos painter, and, indeed, to be ranked as one of his masterpieces, the decoration of this skyphos is also noteworthy as the first representation of athletic exercises by him which has yet come to light. A kylix in Copenhagen3 has shown that the artist at one period of his career recorded his impressions of scenes in the palaestra. Its subject is athletes and trainers conversing. One of the youths is scraping himself with a strigil; another holds a pair of jumping-weights. The locality is suggested by two Doric columns; athletic paraphernalia hang on the wall; there are two pairs of crossed rods; a stool with a mantle laid on it is almost a duplicate of the one on the skyphos. Another Brygan cup, in Boston, published below, no. 28, Pl. X (Boston 01.8038), showing an athlete with strigil, playing with a dog, is also closely related in style.4 And the amphora, no. 19 (Boston 26.61), is to be assigned to the same period in the artist's career.

In this work the Brygos painter, avoiding the representation of violent movement for which he is famous, reveals all the more conspicuously his gift for making his figures appear alive and significant. The long-legged, powerfully built athletes, standing out clearly against the black ground, seem to exist in three dimensions. This is due in part to the three-quarter view of their bodies and to the inner markings, but chiefly to the masterly drawing of their contours. And the delightfully characteristic figure of the small boy is, as Beazley has remarked, 'one of the first, one of the only, real children in vase painting'.5

Ausonia 10 (1921), col. 46; P. Jacobsthal, 1933, 93 BWPr, pp. 3 (fig. 1), 8; Stow 1939, pl. 9; ARV, pp. 253 (no. 131), 956; Chase 1950, pp. 69-70, fig. 75; Buschor 1954, p. 37, illus.; EAA, II, p. 200 (S. Stucchi); Chase & Vermeule 1963, pp. 92, 96, 107, fig. 88; ARV2, pp. 381 (no. 173), 1649; Cambitoglou 1968, pp. 14, 16, pl. 3, fig. 2; L. Byvanck-Quarles van Ufford, BABesch 44 (1969), p. 126, note 9; Para., p. 368, no. 173; Hoffmann 1971, pp. 121-122, fig. 98a-b; H.-V. Herrmann, 1972, Olympia: Heiligtum und Weltkampfstätte, Munich, Hirmer Verlag, p. 23, fig. 5; E. R. Knauer, 1973, 125 BWPr, p. 24, note 45; F. G. Lo Porto, MonAnt 48 (1973), p. 189, note 321; Beck 1975, p. 33, no. IV/70, pl. 33, fig. 179; Boardman 1975, pp. 135, 157 (fig. 259), 220, 246; M.-A. Zagdoun, 1977, Fouilles de Delphes, IV, fasc. 6, Paris, De Boccard, p. 15, note 3; C. C. Mattusch, AJA 84 (1980), p. 443, note 44; Fischer-Graf 1980, p. 11, note 113; R. Thomas 1981, p. 28, note 138; CVA, Würzburg, 2, p. 53, under no. H 5703 (F. Hölscher); Beazley Addenda 1, p. 112; M. True, in Greek Vases in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Occasional Papers on Antiquities 1, 1983), pp. 73, 75, 82-83; I. S. Mark, Hesperia 53 (1984), p. 300, note 55; Frel 1984, pp. 23-25, fig. 22; A. Papaioannou, ArchEph 1984, p. 197, no. 12; H. Rühfel, 1984, Kinderleben im klassischen Athen, Mainz am Rhein, P. von Zabern, pp. 64-66 (fig. 37), 186 (note 163); H. Blanck, JdI 103 (1988), p. 206; Beazley Addenda 2, p. 227; Buitron 1991, 300, note 42 (D. Williams).

1 J.H.S. xxiv, 1904, p. 189. His summary is worth quoting here:

1. The jumper starts with arms bent, and elbows close to the side.

2. He takes a short run, holding the halteres to the front.

3. On nearing the bater he checks himself by throwing the body back, immediately swinging the halteres upwards and making a slow stride forward.

4. With the next stride he swings them sharply downwards, bending the body and the front leg as the arms descend.

5. On the return swing he takes off, shooting both legs to the front, so that arms and legs are nearly parallel.

6. Before alighting he forces the arms vigorously backwards.

Gardiner, p. 184, cites several representations of the third position in vase paintings as well as on the Berlin discus, Baumeister, Denkmäler, fig. 612, and the British Museum discus, Catalogue of the Bronzes, no. 248, fig. 10 = Walters, The Art of the Greeks, Pl. CV. A close parallel to the figure on the skyphos is on the kylix in Boston illustrated below, no. 34, Pl. XIII (Boston 01.8075). In all these cases it can hardly be doubted that the athlete is practising the jump rather than merely using the weights in dumb-bell exercises.

2 Both this, the earlier type of halter, and the later, lighter type, made of lead, carried by the jumper on side A, are known from numerous extant specimens which are fully discussed by Jüthner, Antike Turngeräthe, pp. 3-10, figs. 1-10. Cf. also Gardiner, in J.H.S. xxiv, 1904, p. 183, and in Greek Athletic Sports and Festivals, pp. 298 ff., figs. 60-2. A marble halter recently found at Sparta and published by Woodward, B.S.A. xxvii, p. 252, is at an intermediary stage, approaching in shape to the leaden type.

3 Thorvaldsen Museum, Copenhagen, Thorvaldsen Museum 112. Gerhard, A.V., Pl. 281. Beazley, Att. V., p. 179, no. 38.

4 A number of vases with athletic subjects by followers of the Brygos painter may have been influenced by works of the master which have not survived. e.g. the following cups: (1) London E 78 by the Foundry painter, Beazley, Att. V., p. 186, no. 1. (2) Copenhagen, Thorvaldsen Museum 111, style of the Brygos painter, and perhaps by him, Att. V., p. 188, no. 1. (3) Munich 2649, by the painter of the Paris Gigantomachy, Att. V., p. 190, no. 6. (4) Brussels R 337, by the same painter, no. 10 in Beazley's list; Corpus Cinquantenaire III. 1 c, Pl. 3, 2; Robinson A.J.A. xxxii, 1928, p. 48, figs. 12, 13. (5) Copenhagen, Thorvaldsen Museum 110, no. 9 in Beazley's list; Robinson, l.c., p. 49, figs. 14, 15. (6) Toronto C 363, by the same painter, Beazley, no. 24; Robinson, p. 42, figs. 6-11. (7) Boston 01.8075, published below, no. 34, Pl. XIII, figs. 24, 25.

A fragmentary cup by the Brygos painter, with a pair of boxers on it, has been put together by Beazley from sherds in Leipsic and Florence, and will be published in J.H.S. 50.

5 (From Addenda to Part I) No. 18. ARV. p. 253, Brygos Painter no. 131; one figure (after Caskey), Jacobsthal Diskoi p. 3; (after Caskey) Chase Guide p. 69.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: