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Baltimore, Hopkins BMA 60.55.2

Black-Figure Amphora with Herakles and Amazons 550-500 B.C.

60.55.2. Baltimore Museum of Art, formerly Robinson Collection, from Barden Collection of Hamburg. "Gela." Ht, 54.2 cm; diam mouth, 34.4 cm; diam foot, 20.8 cm. Dull black glaze, chipped. Intact.

Upper surface of rim reserved. Reserved ring molding between body and foot. Neck glazed inside to depth of 3.6 cm.

Side A

Figures stand on glazed groundline. Herakles moves to his left, with left leg upraised. He wears chiton beneath lionskin, with scalp brought up over head, paws tied at neck, tail flying out behind. Bowcase over shoulder, scabbard at waist. His right hand holds a dagger, which he is about to thrust at his opponent, while his left hand is hidden by her shield. She is moving away from Herakles, with her legs in right profile, her left leg advanced. She turns back to Herakles, her right arm uplifted with a spear, her head and crested helmet in left profile, and over her left arm a shield with emblem of serpent and ball. She wears a chiton beneath a muscle cuirass, which is shown frontally, and an animal skin. On either side of the pair are two Amazons, each in crested helmet, short chiton, and cloak, with shield and spear. Devices on shields are, from left: pellets, bull's head (?), disc, tripod.

Added red: eyes, cloaks, shield rims of all Amazons. 1 and 2: skirt, 3: lion-skin, 4: skirt, 5: plume of helmet, 6: panels in skirt.

Added white: flesh of Amazons, devices of shields, dots in borders below helmet plumes, lion tusks, Herakles' baldric, sections of plumes on helmets of 2 and 5.

Side B

Figures stand on glazed groundline. Dionysos, in center in right profile, wears a himation and ivy wreath and carries kantharos in uplifted left hand. Four vine branches wind away from shoulder. Flanking him on each side is maenad with long hair and wreath, wearing a long chiton with incised crosses at waist and incised dotted border at neckline. Maenad facing Dionysos wears short jacket. Nude satyr seen in profile at each side of scene.

Added red: panels in skirts, dots at waist, centers of eyes, curls of maenads, leaves of ivy wreaths. Added white: flesh of maenads.

Lotus and palmette above picture on side A. Chain of lotus buds above picture on side B. Rays around base. Two red lines around neck and two more below each picture (one line above rays, one around foot).

The uninterrupted profile of neck and shoulder classifies the form of this amphora as Type B, examples of which are commonly found among black-figure vases of the second half of the sixth century. The amphorae are usually ornamented with a ray pattern around the foot and ivy or lotus patterns above the pictures, which commonly portray mythological battles or Dionysiac revelry.

The obverse of our amphora illustrates a popular myth, the representations of which have been thoroughly examined by von Bothmer. Our composition belongs within Bothmer's category C. examples of which first appeared after 550 B.C. and depict an unassisted Herakles in combat with three or more Amazons.1 Our scene belongs in subsection gamma,2 because the retreating Amazon directly behind Herakles is dressed as a hoplite and glances behind her as she flees. Our representation is also related to compositions of subsection alpha,3 where there is only a single Amazon behind Herakles, but one with the pose and gesture of the Amazon who stands at the viewer's far left side of our panel.

Typical of representations of Herakles and the Amazons after 550 are Herakles' choice of club or sword rather than spear,4 and the use of the Attic helmet with oblong or L-shaped cheekpieces.5 Both the position of Herakles' left arm behind the shield6 and the gesture of the right sword arm7 are paralleled in other representatives of this conflict.


CVA, USA fasc. 4, Robinson fasc. 1, 43-44, pls. XXV.2, XXVI, XXVII; von Bothmer 1957, 57, no. 183, pl. 45.3; Brommer 1973, 13, no. 17.

1 von Bothmer 1957, 30.

2 von Bothmer 1957, 56.

3 von Bothmer 1957, 53.

4 von Bothmer 1957, 31.

5 von Bothmer 1957, 33, 59.

6 von Bothmer 1957, pls. 30.1 and 39.1.

7 von Bothmer 1957, pl. 41.4.

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