previous next

extend so far that parts of them are cut off by the handles. There is a band of maeander above the pictures as well as the more ordinary band below them, again a light-coloured element. A subsidiary figure fills most of the space below each handle, the heads of these figures projecting into the reserved area between the handle-roots. In one of the pictures a small sixth figure, Eros, is set in the spandril between the heads of the two chief figures, filling that gap too. In both pictures, most of the usual black accents within the figures — black hair, black for the coloured part of the eye, black for the shield-devices — are missing: the eyes are light — dot-and-circle — , and nearly all the people are fair-haired. This packing of the field contributes to a comparative richness of effect which is rare in the drawing of the late archaic period.

Another famous skyphos of the same period, the Achilles and Priam by the Brygos Painter in Vienna,1 is treated on the same principle. There the quietness of the scene, all uprights and horizontals, contrasts not only with renderings of the subject by earlier painters, in which Priam makes a sudden rush forward without thought of his dignity, but also with the almost violent animation that we expect from the Brygos Painter. The artist has chosen a sort of composition that suits the solid, thick-walled, stable, almost quadrangular, block-like vessel; or chosen a shape of vase that suited his composition; or rather, shape and composition formed a unity in his mind. The Vienna skyphos, too, is an uncommonly light-coloured vase: the black background has been cut down by packing the field with figures, by placing a strip of maeander above the picture as well as below, by extending the picture far down and leaving little black space between it and the foot, and by reserving the side of the foot instead of painting it black.

We have spoken of the two figures, one under each handle, as subsidiary. They are not seen when you look at either picture straight on. In subject they are connected, though not very closely, one with the first picture, the other with the second; in composition they are virtually separated from them, or form codas only. They are primarily handle-figures. We deal with them before turning to the chief scenes.

Under one handle sits Priam (ΠΡΙΑΜΟΣ, retr.); looking towards Menelaos and Helen. He is bald, and what hair he has is fair — old men are often given fair hair on vases. It is trained forward and tied over the middle of the forehead, as in Priam on an earlier vase, the amphora by Euthymides in Munich,2 and in the old man on our no. 155. The beard is black. He holds a staff with T-shaped head in the right hand; the gesture of the left hand shows apprehension. The costume is a long chiton and a himation. The seat is a folding-chair, with feet that end, as often, in the form of lion's paws. The cover has a chequer pattern. Priam, as was said, is primarily a handle-figure, but actually the upright stick and the almost upright shanks come into the field of vision in the great picture and help to frame it, answering, at one edge of it, to the upright figure with upright staff on the extreme left, and redressing the balance thrown out by the diagonal figure, in strong movement, of Menelaos.

The figure under the other handle is a young boy in a himation, who takes a step forward and raises one hand. A fillet passes twice round his head. The hair is black, and the curling forehead-hair is in raised black dots on a black ground. The right thumb and forefinger are damaged. The artist has not named him, but certainly thought of him as Helen's son. Helen's fault was the greater, in that she abandoned not only her husband but her young child. Sappho speaks of Helen leaving her child, and so does Alcaeus. One cannot tell whether these poets had a son in mind, or a daughter. In the Iliad it is a daughter, and in the Odyssey she is named, Hermione. Two children, however, were mentioned in a Hesiodic poem: Hermione, and Nikostratos.3

The upper parts of both heads, Priam's and the boy's, are drawn in outline against the handle-reserve. This is a rare trait that recurs in two of Makron's cups.4

We now turn to the two scenes. There are many older pictures of the meeting between


1 Vienna 3710 (ex Vienna, Oest. Mus. 328): FR. pl. 84; CV. pll. 35-37: ARV.1 p. 253 no. 129; ARV.2 p. 380 no. 171.

2 Munich 2307: FR. pl. 14; CV. pl. 167. See also iii p. 23 (Boston 10.208).

3 Sappho 16, 10; Alcaeus 283, 6. Hesiod fr. 131. Robert Bild und Lied pp. 54-56 and Heldensage pp. 1061-2.

4 New York 20.246 (Richter and Hall pl. 50, 53 and pll. 53-54). Gotha 49: Elisabeth Rohde Kleinkunst pp. 64-65 figs. 9-10.

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