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Middle Period

The vases of the Middle Period illustrate the consolidation of the two approaches apparent in Douris' earlier work. From the "rich" vases he retains a love for elaborate ornament which is developed into a standard scheme for the decoration of cups: around the tondo a distinctive border consisting of 'Dourian' meanders1 alternating with cross-squares; on the exterior, lavish palmette clusters at the handles. About forty percent of the extant vases by Douris are assigned to the Middle Period, and it is the work of this period that inspired his numerous following. As we turn from the charming and lively products of his formative stages to the balance and grace of his mature work, two distinct changes must be noted. Douris no longer experiments widely with varied and lavish ornamental schemes. His standardization of ornament may follow upon his close association with one potter, Python, who was responsible for almost all the cups of the period. There is also a change in the inscriptions: signatures and kalos names become less frequent, and Hippodamas, the kalos name after which the Middle Period is sometimes called, replaces Chairestratos.

A cup in Berlin (Berlin F 2285;


) was one of the first vases by Douris to provoke extensive scholarly discussion. It illustrates the three main disciplines of Athenian education: athletics, music, and grammar. The scene in the tondo shows a youth preparing for exercise, his discarded clothing on a stool, his walking cane propped against a basin, his athletic equipment ready at hand (

). The exterior scenes preserve one of the earliest representations of a school known in vase-painting; its appearance on vases coincides with the earliest mention of schools in literature.2 The composition is a version of what became the standard courting or conversation scene, one with figures alternately standing or seated, a type that dominated Douris' output during the Middle Period. On the Berlin cup, the details are unusual: the waiting pedagogue to the right of each scene, the writing tablets in use and hung on the wall, and the roll with the beginning of a literary text. The man seated in the center of side A holds a partly open book roll on which can be read: ΜΟΙΣΑ ΜΟΙ / ΑΦΙ ΣΚΑΜΑΝΔΡΟΝ / ΕΥΡΩΝ ΑΡΧΟΜΑΙ / ΑΕΙΝΔΕΝ "Muse to me... I begin to sing of wide-flowing Scamander." (

) The line has been associated with Stesichorus.3

A cup in Malibu (Malibu 86.AE.290;



) illustrates Douris' developed conversation scenes. A man and a youth with a lyre, perhaps engaged in a music lesson, are in the tondo. The figures are beautifully placed within the circle, filling it comfortably without a sense of crowding. The larger figure of the man is slightly closer to the center of the circle; the smaller youth is to the right, balanced by the stool on the left. The quiet poses, sense of space, and general lucidity of the composition suggest an almost classic art. The balance of light and dark achieved in the figured scene is reinforced by the standard Middle Period border of cross-squares and meanders alternating one to one. The quiet poses of the figures in the tondo carry through to the exterior scenes of men courting youths; on each side are two pairs of seated youths and standing men with another man to the right of the scene. The basic poses of each pair are the same, but the gestures vary, and the question arises whether Douris meant to represent the same couple in four stages of courtship, or four different couples.

A small stemless cup in Oxford (formerly at Harvard, Rosenberg Collection, ARV2, 445, 252) decorated inside only gives an unusual glimpse into a Greek wine shop. A youth wearing soft leather shoes and carrying a purse stands between two large wine jars. Only the upper corner of the one on the right is visible. Its scale is larger than the other, which is set in a stand near the youth's feet. A third vase, a small oinochoe, is suspended behind the youth. The different sizes, and the arrangement of the three vases receding in space, suggest some deliberate attempts at perspective. Other examples of this appear sporadically in Douris' work. The youth holds either a sponge or a stopper in his right hand. If it is a sponge, he may be testing the taste and bouquet of the wine. An inscription on the left reads ΤΡΙΚΟΤΥΛΟΣ which Immerwahr suggests translating as "holding three kotylai (or measures)" or "costing (an obol) for three kotylai."4

Two women preparing wool are featured in the tondo of a cup in Berlin (Berlin F 2289;



). The seated woman is spinning or combing wool without implements, rolling the fibers between hand and shin, a process for which an onos or epinetron might be used, although it is absent in this scene. Douris and his contemporaries often represented women occupied with the crafts for which they were esteemed in antiquity. The scenes on the interior and exterior of this cup might be interpreted as illustrating the different social lives of men and women. The males on the exterior are revelers perhaps returning home from a party. One of them wears a sakkos instead of a wreath, perhaps in imitation of 'Anacreontic' dress, a style of clothing associated with Anacreon's stay in Athens.5

Among the mythological scenes painted in the Middle Period is one of Douris' masterpieces: a cup in Paris with Eos and Memnon in the tondo (Louvre G 115;


). The forms of the composition work in harmony with the subject matter to evoke a feeling of noble pathos. Eos forms a strong central vertical, her robes and wings powerful yet graceful. The impression of her strength is reinforced by the ease with which she lifts the stiff, brittle corpse of Memnon. His body forms a diagonal across the tondo, his right leg, arms, and head (but not his hair) drooping, while his torso remains stiff. His body seems almost weightless. Eos' wings are lifted suggesting her imminent flight to carry her son home to Africa. Her face is without emotion, and it is her strength and larger size in relation to Memnon that convey her protective, maternal role and elicit our compassion. This masterly adjustment of the size of the figures in relation to the space of the tondo, the sense of repose and inevitability with which the story is told again bring forth a classic spirit.

The exterior shows fight scenes. On side A, Menelaos chases Paris, whose mouth is open as he gasps for breath; Hera and Artemis are in the wings. On side B, Athena and Apollo flank Ajax, who, armed with shield and spear, has hurled a rock at Hector, a method of combat he resorted to several times according to Homer (Hom. Il. 7.268-272; Hom. Il. 14.409-415).

A cup in Malibu (Malibu 84.AE.569;




) and the cup with Eos and Memnon share the tongue pattern forming the line of the tondo exergue. The figure style shows many similarities as well. In the Malibu tondo, a bearded man, perhaps Zeus, sits on a stool before an elaborate altar with a snake pediment and palmette acroterion. He holds a kylix straight out in front of him, a little too close to the youth, Ganymede, who has had to contract his own arm and holds his oinochoe awkwardly in order to pour into the cup. Zeus displays an eager impetuosity before which Ganymede retreats slightly, a subtlety of emotion effectively conveyed by Douris.

On the exterior, Zeus and Eos, both named, capture respectively, Ganymede and Tithonos (also named), in the presence of five dignified, fully dressed men with sceptres who raise their arms in surprise. The two men on the left of Eos are named: they are Pandion and Kekrops, legendary kings of Athens and eponymous heroes for whom two of Kleisthenes' ten tribes were named. On the analogy of these, one of the men on the other side might be Erechtheus.

Douris paints fewer satyrs and Dionysiac thiasoi than do his contemporaries, the Brygos Painter and Makron. His satyrs make their earliest appearance on the psykter in London (London E 768, see above) where they have become a vehicle for more exuberant and improbable poses than Douris seemed to have thought proper for the ordinary mortal komasts which are their model. A cup in Boston (Boston 00.499; CB no. 129;




) shows Dionysos in the tondo, with satyrs and maenads on the exterior. The satyrs and maenads dance in harmony except for one hairy satyr, his face shown frontally, who leaps exuberantly, one leg kicked up behind at the knees in a pose similar to that of one of the satyrs on the London psykter. Perhaps this fellow has instigated a riot on the other side where the same satyr and his balding companion chase the now infuriated maenads. The maenads have pulled their chitons over their hands to make wing sleeves. This rendering is often seen in maenads by the Brygos and Briseis Painters as well, and may reflect the dance of a maenad chorus.6

The large number of cups placed in Douris' Middle Period show the artist moving from the remarkable degree of care and subtlety he bestowed on his Transitional vases, especially those depicting mythological subjects, to a rather freer, less detailed rendering especially evident in the genre scenes, which dominate the Middle Period output. The simplification of Douris' art might have come about because of his success and the consequent greater demand for his work. The Berlin School cup, the Malibu conversation cup and the Eos and Memnon cup show Douris at his best. In these cups, to a greater degree than any of his contemporaries, he reflects something of the early classical spirit of the period.

1 A meander peculiar to Douris in which the ductus goes into the center of the maze and does not come out again.

2 H. Immerwahr, "Book Rolls on Attic Vases," Classical, Mediaeval and Renaissance Studies in Honor of Berthold Louis Ullman vol. I (Rome, 1964) 17; and Immerwahr, "More Book Rolls on Attic Vases," AK 16 (1973) 143-7.

3 J.D. Beazley, "Hymn to Hermes," AJA 52 (1948) 338.

4 H. Immerwahr, "An Athenian Wineshop," Transactions of the American Philological Association 79 (1948) 184-190.

5 Kurtz & Boardman 1986, 50-70; for another interpretation see Keuls 1985, 357; compare Munich 2647 below.

6 On wing sleeves see CB ii p. 40; M.W. Edwards, "Representation of Maenads on Archaic Red-Figure Vases," JHS 80 (1960) 82-3; on the maenad chorus see T.B.L. Webster, The Greek Chorus (London, 1970) 17-18.

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