Pelike Harvard 1925.30.34

One of the most intriguing of the Geras Painter's pelikai from this period is Harvard 1925.30.34.1 Of medium size, it has the usual bag-shaped body and torus mouth and foot.2 Although unbroken, the surface is heavily weathered and pitted, and there is flaking on the figures and a certain amount of repainting, particularly of the black background.3 The subsidiary ornament is relatively common on this type of pelike and in this case has a rather perfunctory look. Above the figures on either side is a band of egg-pattern. The groundlines consist of double rows of dots that are actually degenerate abbreviations of pomegranate-net pattern. Below either handle is a single palmette, pointing downward, with scrolling tendrils at the top. The rest of the vase is black except for the bottom of the foot and a narrow reserved band inside the rim. There are no inscriptions, but on the bottom of the foot is an graffito: an alpha and two straight lines.4

On one side, Herakles is striding to the right with a sturdy carrying-pole balanced on his left shoulder. Lashed by the handles to either end of the pole are a pair of pointed amphorae. Herakles is dressed in a short chiton with folds drawn with dilute glaze. Over this, the skin of the Nemean Lion is pulled snugly around his body and secured with a belt; the forepaws are knotted at the throat and the head worn like a hood. The skin is edged with a stripe of thinned glaze, and the furry texture is indicated with numerous small crescents in dilute glaze. The hero rests his knotty club on his right shoulder.

On the reverse, a balding satyr with a beard, long ears, and a tail is standing in profile to the right. He wears a cloak wrapped around his waist and legs like a long skirt, a motif employed elsewhere by the painter.5 He leans over and with both hands grasps the rope of a shadoof, a water-drawing device of Egyptian origin consisting of a long pole, weighted at one end and balanced on a post. The rope, drawn with added red, is secured to a vessel, the mouth of which is just appearing at the top of the well, which apparently has no well-head. The vessel is being raised, not lowered, as there is slack in the rope above the satyr's hands. From the shape of the mouth, the vessel can be identified as a kados, a type of plain-ware jar which, to judge by other representations on vases, was in common use as a well bucket.6

The meaning of these scenes is obscure, but the two sides are probably connected; one thinks of another pelike by the Geras Painter, on which a satyr is preparing a dish of some kind on one side, and another satyr, on the reverse, is running up with a bucket of water.7 Herakles and the satyrs did not normally get along well, as the satyrs were always trying to steal his weapons. Satyrs are sometimes shown harassing women when they come to fetch water, and in two cases a shadoof is represented.8 In this case, Herakles must be bringing the amphorae to be filled at the well. The same subject, without the satyr, was depicted by the Pan Painter on a column-krater in Berlin.9 In the Pan Painter's version, Herakles carries an amphora in each hand and runs toward a fountain on the reverse, which has a spout in the shape of a donkey's head. Some scholars have suggested an allusion to Herakles' water-drawing contest with Lepreos.10 This seems an obscure and unlikely explanation and, as Boardman points out, Lepreos is not present on either vase.11

Furtwängler suggested that the Herakles on the Pan Painter's krater was preparing for his bath, and this is probably also what the Geras Painter's Herakles has in mind.12 The presence of the satyr indicates a possibly comic situation, such as a satyr play. The comic possibilities are many: Herakles might force the satyrs to draw water for his bath, and they, when he is thus occupied, might attempt to make off with his clothes and weapons. The carrying-pole used by the hero may have been suggested by the painter's depiction, on a volute-krater in Munich, of Herakles carrying the Kerkopes, a story in which the pole is an essential and traditional element (Munich 2382).13

1 ARV2, 285, 7; CVA, Hoppin-Gallatin, p. 8, pl. 12, 3-4; Padgett 1989 (supra) 36-38, figs. 22-23, no. G.7; Becker 1977 (supra) p. 61, no. 175; LIMC, p. 798, pl. 531, Herakles 1324 (J. Boardman).

2 H. 21.2 cm.; Diam. 15.6 cm.; Diam. mouth 11.0 cm.; Diam. foot 12.2 cm.

3 On the figures, the most damage is to the right amphora, the lower body and right leg of Herakles, and the lower body and legs of the satyr.

4 See Padgett 1989, p. 36.

5 Cf. a satyr on Boston 64.2032; ARV2, 285, 2.

6 On a skyphos by the Zephyros Painter in Zurich, a man raises a kados using a shadoof; H. Bloesch, ed., Greek Vases from the Hirschmann Collection (Zurich 1982) 80-81, no. 39. Cf. also the kadoi in well-scenes by the Brygos Painter (Milan 266; ARV2, 379, 145) and the Painter of Munich 2335 (Havana, Lagunillas Collection, 213; ARV2, 1166, 98). On the Havana vase, the rope is attached to a pulley; see R. Olmos Romera, Vasos griegos de la Colleccion Condes de Lagunillas (Kilchberg 1990) 152-53, no. 43. For the identification of this type of vessel as a kados, see D. A. Amyx, "The Attic Stelai, Part III. Vases and other Containers," Hesperia 27 (1958) 186-90; and H. Gericke, Gefässdarstellungen auf griechischen Vasen (Berlin 1970) 54-55.

7 Berkeley 8.1583; ARV2, 286, 10.

8 One is a red-figure bell-krater, Tübingen 1343; Moon 1983, 213, fig. 14.7. The other is a black-figure pelike, Berlin F 3228; B. Sparkes, "Illustrating Aristophanes," JHS 95 (1975) 130, pl. 14e.

9 Berlin F 4027; ARV2, 551, 5.

10 First suggested by G. Jatta, "La sfida di Ercole con Lepreo," AdI 49 (1877) 410 ff.; he is supported by Follmann 1968, 61. For Lepreos, see Athenaeus 10.412; Zenodotos, FGrH 19 F 1; and F. Brommer, Herakles II. Die unkannonischen Täten des Helden (Darmstadt 1984) 13.

11 LIMC, IV, 798 (J. Boardman).

12 See A. Furtwängler, in Roscher I, 2237 ff. Brommer thinks both paintings show Herakles preparing his bath; he discounts the Lepreos interpretation and, like several other scholars, notes a connection with numerous Etruscan representations of Herakles with an amphora at a fountain or reclining on a raft of amphorae (Brommer 1984; see Beazley 1974a, 10; and LIMC, IV, 798 (J. Boardman)). For the Etruscan representations, see Brommer 1984, 76-77; LIMC, V, 207-209, pl. 168 (S. J. Schwarz, "Herakles/Hercle"); and G. A. Mansuelli, "Uno specchio Etruscho inedito del Museo Civico di Bologna e il mito di Ercole alla Fonte," StEtr 15 (1947) 99-108. To the examples discussed by Schwarz and Mansuelli, add two 4th-century bronze candelabrum figurines, formerly in the Swiss art market: Ars Antiqua AG, Antike Kunstwerke, Auktion V (Lucerne, November 7, 1964) no. 34; and Münzen und Medaillen AG, Kunstwerke der Antike, Auktion XXII (Basel, May 13, 1961) no. 75.

13 ARV2, 287, 27. Sometimes porters are shown carrying amphorae in the same way; e.g. Athens, Agora P 1275; ARV2, 105; S. Roberts, Hesperia 55 (1986) pl. 15.

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