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107. 90.156 (Robinson 432) HYDRIA from Foiano PLATE LVII and PLATE XLVII, below

Height 0.403. E. Robinson, frontispiece, whence Jb. 29 p. 27 (Hauser), Guthrie Orpheus and Greek Religion pl. 4 (with p. 65, vii), and (part) Irene Weir The Greek Painter's Art p. 169; back-view, Jacobsthal O. pl. 60, b; the shape, Hambidge p. 87 and Caskey G. p. 110. The Death of Orpheus. About 460 B.C., early work of the Niobid Painter (VA. p. 148 no. 32; Att. V. p. 340 no. 42; Webster Der Niobidenmaler p. 22 no. 42; ARV. p. 422 no. 52).

Two Thracian women catch Orpheus by the hair; one pierces him with a long spit, the other attacks him with a sword; he tries to beat the first off with his lyre, but stumbles and falls. Three other women race up, armed with spits1 and sickle.2 Two Thracian youths look on, the older lurking behind a bush, the younger in a more manly attitude, but not caring to interpose. Another tree or shrub marks the middle of the picture. Orpheus wears a chitoniskos, belted, and pulled down over the belt at both sides; it has a flounce over the breast. A short wrap passes over his left shoulder and is held with the left hand. High boots with fur flaps. The long hair is wreathed. The name ΟΡΦΕΥΣ is written over the head. The women are not characterized as un-Hellenic. The woman in front of Orpheus, (4), wears a peplos, with kolpos as well as overfall; so does (7). (3) wears chiton with 'Ionic' himation, (6) a thinner chiton with the himation draped in the other manner, (2) a chiton only, with a long overfall, overgirt. (4), (3), and (7) have stephanai of different kinds, (2) a broad head-band, (6) a long cord; (4) and (7) wear the hair down, the rest up. All have bracelets on one arm or both. The lanky youth on the left is dressed in a chitoniskos, belted, a chlamys, and a hat, with flaps, of vaguely Thracian mode. He grasps the bush with his right hand, and holds a pair of spears across his shoulder with his left. The boy wears a chitoniskos, girt with a cord, a cloak of blanket stuff brooched at the pit of the neck, shoes, and holds a spear.

The woman (3) has been given two left hands, the woman (6), who is seen from behind, two left feet.3

Under the back-handle a plant-palmette rises from the ground (Jacobsthal O. pl. 60, b and pp. 84-5). One woman uses a sword; but the others have armed themselves with household implements — spits and a sickle. Spits are used in most pictures of the subject; and even where the blow is being dealt with another weapon, Orpheus is sometimes seen to have been wounded already by a spit. Other household objects are the pestle — which is also used as an extemporized weapon by Trojan women in the Iliupersis4 — and no doubt the axe. Swords, however, also appear, as here — the husbands' swords — and spears; once the bow; stones and rocks; on the Italiote calyx-krater in Amsterdam (FR. pl. 178) a woman is uprooting a tree for a weapon. The sickle is an almost essential part of the picture: it is to sever the head, serving the same purpose as the harpe of Perseus.56 According to Pottier the foremost woman on the stamnos by Hermonax in the Louvre is armed with a thyrsus: but it is a spit (Louvre G 416: Mon. 9 pl. 30; CV. d pl. 19, 1, 4, and 6-7 and pl. 20, 1-2; ARV. p. 317 no. 12). Apollodorus says that Orpheus was torn to pieces by maenads (Apollod. 1.3.2), Virgil speaks of 'nocturni orgia Bacchi', and already in the Bassarai of Aeschylus Orpheus was torn to pieces by 'Bassarids' sent by Dionysos (Nauck TGF. pp. 9-10; Mette Suppl. aesch. pp. 13-16): but the Thracian women are not characterized as maenads in any of the pictures.

Orpheus often tries to defend himself with his lyre. An unusual trait in the Boston picture is the presence of Thracian youths. They have been ready to listen to the music of Orpheus, as on many vases, but are not prepared to risk their lives for the master (Hauser, Jb. 29 p. 27).

On the representations of the Death of Orpheus see Hauser in Jb. 29 pp. 26-32, Albizzati Due nuovi acquisti del Museo Gregoriano-Etrusco pp. 16-22, Watzinger in FR. iii pp. 355-61, Guthrie Orpheus and Greek Religion pp. 64-5.78 The following list includes two vases (nos. 19 and 32) in which the onslaught is not represented, but shown to be imminent by the arrival of the Thracian women. It includes also, of course, several single figures of Thracian women which are 'extracts' from a Death of Orpheus. Publications are not referred to unless the vase is not mentioned in ARV., or has been published since.

    (Attic red-figure)
    • 1. Vatican, squat lekythos by the Brygos Painter, late (ARV. p. 256 no. 168).
    • 2. New York 96.9.37, cup by the Brygos Painter, late (ARV. p. 253 no. 117).
    • 3. Athens, Acr. 297, cup in the manner of the Brygos Painter, by the Castelgiorgio Painter (ARV. p. 258 no. 5). New fragments, identified by Mrs. Karouzou, BCH. 1947-8 p. 425 and pl. 64.
    • 4. Adria B 496, cup by the Briseis Painter (ARV. p. 268 no. 33).
    • 5. Villa Giulia, cup-fragment. See CF. p. 34 no. 23. A (arm extended to r., in cloak, of a woman; part of a woman, head to left, probably moving to right, her right arm, which is tattooed, extended to left with a stone in the hand).
    • 6. Heidelberg 44, fragment of a cup. Kraiker pl. 7. Belongs to the last?
    • 7. Stockholm 1700, lekythos by the Troilos Painter (ARV. p. 191 no. 17 and p. 954).
    • 8. Roman market (Basseggio), stamnos in the manner of the Berlin Painter, late (ARV. p. 145, k).
    • 9. Palermo, lekythos by the Providence Painter (ARV. p. 435 no. 76). Woman (peplos, overfall, cloak, tattooed) running to right, left arm extended, sword in right hand.
    • 10. London E 301, Nolan amphora by the Oionokles Painter (ARV. p. 438 no. 11).
    • 11. New York 46.129.11, lekythos: the vase is from the workshop of the Bowdoin Painter, the drawing is not very far from his style. Woman running to right, a spit in her right hand, a cloak on her extended left arm.
    • 12. Louvre L 52, lekythos by the Icarus Painter (ARV. p. 482 no. 14). Woman running to right, tattooed, spear (or spit?) in right hand, left arm extended in a thick patterned cloak.
    • 13. Munich 2378, column-krater by the Pan Painter (ARV. p. 362 no. 7).
    • 14. Louvre G 416, stamnos by Hermonax (ARV. p. 317 no. 12).
    • 15. Oxford, Beazley, Nolan amphora by Hermonax (ARV. p. 320 no. 49 bis). AJA 1945 pl. 53. The woman's arms were tattooed with chevrons, but the tattooing, though antique, disappeared when the vase was cleaned.
    • 16. Athens, Acr. 439, white cup by the Pistoxenos Painter (ARV. p. 575 no. 2). For a new fragment see Karouzou in BCH. 1940-1 p. 233.
    • 17. Ferrara, column-krater by the Florence Painter, late (ARV. p. 341 no. 5). A: 1, woman running to right, left arm extended in cloak; 2, Orpheus (chitoniskos, tiara, boots), to right, looking round, falling, holding up his lyre; 3, woman (tattooed) to right, looking round, with rock; 4, girl to left holding a pestle with both hands.
    • 18. London E 252.2, fragment (of a column-krater, stamnos, or volute-krater), Mannerist Group, recalling the Agrigento Painter (ARV. p. 400 no. 93).
    • 19. Paris, Petit Palais, 319, hydria, Mannerist Group, by the Painter of Tarquinia 707 (ARV. p. 389, middle, no. 5, and below, no. 4). CV. pl. 18, 2-6.
    • 20. Würzburg 534, hydria, Mannerist Group (ARV. p. 399 no. 78).
    • 21. Boston 90.156, hydria by the Niobid Painter.
    • 22. Vatican, neck-amphora by the Painter of the Berlin Hydria (ARV. p. 429 no. 6).
    • 23. Boston 13.202, lekythos in the manner of the Achilles Painter, close to his early work (ARV. p. 646 no. 15: pl. 22, 49 and pl. 26, 49).
    • 24. Naples 3114, Nolan amphora in the manner of the Sabouroff Painter (ARV. p. 565, ii no. 2).
    • 25. Louvre G 436, Nolan amphora by the Phiale Painter (ARV. p. 653 no. 1).
    • 26. Munich 2330, Nolan amphora by the Phiale Painter (ARV. p. 653 no. 2: replica of the last). CV. pl. 62, 2 and pl. 63, 4 and 6.
    • 27. Lost. Tischbein 5 pl. 113. A, a woman running with a spit in her right hand. I take this to be an extract from a Death of Orpheus, and the youth with the flute- case (?) to be on the other side of the vase (which might be a Nolan amphora or a small pelike), and to be unconnected with the figure on the front.9
    • 28. Once Rome, Braun, stamnos, Group of Polygnotos and near the painter himself (ARV. p. 695 no. 2).
    • 29. Baltimore, Prof. D. M. Robinson, bell-krater, Group of Polygnotos, by the Curti Painter (ARV. p. 689 no. 2).
    • 30. Boston 10.224, fragment of a skyphos, Group of Polygnotos, by the Pantoxena Painter (ARV. p. 694 no. 2).
    • 31. New York 24.97.30, bell-krater by the Painter of London E 497 (ARV. p. 688 no. 2).
    • 32. Naples 2889, calyx-krater. Raoul-Rochette pll. 13-14; Inghirami pl. 195; Mus. Borb. 9 pl. 12, whence Jb. 29 p. 28. Very much repainted, especially on B: the date is about 440-430, and the style recalled to me the Painter of the Louvre Centauromachy, but nothing positive can be said in the present condition of the vase.
    • 33. Narbonne, fragment of a cup, from Montlaurès. I, (?). A: the lower parts of two figures are preserved: Orpheus is down on his right knee, with his left leg extended to right; a woman rushes to left and sets her foot on his. About 440 B.C.
    • 34. San Simeon, Mr. William Randolph Hearst, cup, from Spina. I, Cat. Sotheby Dec. 13, 1928 pl. 16. Eight fragments in wretched preservation, frayed ends of this cup, were in my possession, and I have presented them to Mr. Hearst. I, a young warrior with Athena and Herakles. A, Orpheus making music among the Thracians;10 B, the Death of Orpheus. On the left of B, Orpheus striding to left, looking round, evidently falling or fallen on one knee; behind him, a tree; then a woman attacking him with a spear; with her left hand she grasps the lyre of Orpheus; whether he also holds it is uncertain; then a woman, kneeling, drawing a bow; then a woman attacking with a spear, and a fourth woman, perhaps also holding a spear; all the women are turned to left. About 430 B.C. Strange style. The cup recalls, in its general character, the Berlin cup, Berlin 2536 (Gerhard AB. pll. 33-5: ARV. p. 772) but is by another hand.
    • 35. Jena, fragment of a cup. Part, AZ. 1857 pl. 108, 3; FR. iii p. 359. About 400: related to the Jena Painter.
    (Italiote red-figure)
    • 36. Amsterdam, calyx-krater. FR. pl. 178 and iii p. 355; Gids pl. 77, 1.11
    • 37. Heidelberg 26.90, fragment of a skyphos, from Taranto. Suppl. plate 11, 6. Described briefly in Hafner, Luschey, Neutsch Die Welt der Griechen p. 53 no. 6; figured here, by kind permission of Prof. Reinhard Herbig, from a photograph by Mr. Hermann Wagner. 0.18 across. Orpheus, rushing to left, looks back with face in three-quarter view. His right arm is missing; the cithara in his left hand is seized by a Thracian woman who attacks him with a weapon only a small part of which remains. Below, the extended left arm of another woman. On the left, a sapling. Orpheus wears a short chiton, sleeved, studded belt, cross-bands, a short cloak clasped at the pit of the neck, and a tiara — or rather, perhaps, a tiara of which only the flaps show beneath a helmet-like cap of tiara-fashion with frontlet and engrailed crest. The women are tattooed. The upper one wears a saccos.
    • 38. Florence PD 462, fragment of a calyx-krater. Suppl. plate 11, 7. Orpheus moves to left holding a stone. He wears a short chiton, richly adorned, with sleeves; a spangled tiara;12 studded belt and cross-bands; a wrap, which slips off his right thigh. He must have been looking back. A fair-haired Thracian woman grasps him and is about to stab him with a spit. She wears a peplos-like garment, earrings, necklace, bracelet. Another Thracian woman rushes at Orpheus, dressed in a short chiton, again richly adorned, and bracelets. Both women are tattooed on the arm: the designs are rosettes (suns?), saltire, pairs of stripes, fawns at gaze.13 White lines indicate rocky ground. At the top of the fragment, the lower part of a sapling.
The three Italiote vases, nos. 36-8, all of unusually high quality, are closely interconnected, and must be derived from a single original. In style, the Heidelberg fragment is very near the Amsterdam vase and might be by the same hand; the Florence fragment is less near.14

Pausanias, describing the Orpheus in the Nekyia of Polygnotos at Delphi (Paus. 10.30.6), noted that his aspect was Greek, and neither his dress nor his head-covering Thracian. So also on the early vases. In our picture he wears high flapped boots of Thracian mode. These had long been worn by horsemen in Athens (see, for example, the cup by Euphronios in Munich, Munich 2620; FR. pl. 22). In a lyre-player they may perhaps indicate a Thracian, as Robert thought: but on an oinochoe of about 440 B.C. in the Art Institute at Chicago the same boots are worn by a lyre-player who cannot be Orpheus.15 Orpheus wears a non-Greek article of clothing — a tiara — as well as boots, on a vase of about the same period as the Boston hydria, a column-krater by the Florence Painter in Ferrara (above, no. 17).

The Boston Orpheus hydria is large, broad, full-bodied, and flat-shouldered. The picture runs right round, regardless of the side-handles: so also in the large hydria by the Niobid Painter in Bowdoin College (back-view, Jacobsthal O. pl. 60, a: ARV. p. 423 no. 54), which is somewhat later; his fragmentary hydria in Ancona is decorated on the same principle (ARV. p. 423 no. 61). The fiction, old as the François vase, is that the picture was first finished, and the handles then clapped on top of it: as in fact adjuncts sometimes were in bronze vessels, for example in the Ficoroni cista. In the Orpheus hydria there is a blank space for some distance round the handles, as if the painter had distrusted the quality of the surface there. A groove, not visible in Caskey's drawing, separates the upper curve of the double-ogee foot from the lower. The upper surface of the mouth is reserved. The contours are in relief-lines. The bracelets are in brown. There is no red except for the inscription.

The Orpheus hydria was found, shortly before 1879, in an Etruscan cemetery near Foiano della Chiana (prov. Arezzo, south of Arezzo, north of Montepulciano, east of Sinalunga), and an account of the circumstances is given by Helbig in the Bullettino for 1879 (pp. 242-8). The exact site was north-west of Foiano, in the property of Alfonso del Soldato, on the hill rising in front of the Church of S. Francesco, about a hundred paces from the faade. When Helbig arrived, the excavators, Giuseppe Ceppannelli of Cortona and Giacomo Tempora of Bettolle, were still working in a virgin tomb consisting of two rock-cut chambers. Along the right wall of the nearer chamber were four Greek painted vases, a bronze 'pail', and a small urn of pietra fetida: all these vessels contained remains of burnt bodies. The Orpheus hydria was in the corner formed by the right wall with the entrance wall. Farther along the right wall there was a red-figured 'amphora' of rather severe style with, on one side, a man, sceptre in hand, pursuing a woman, and on the other a youth. Farther along the wall, a black-figured 'amphora'; near it, the bronze 'pail'; then a very large black-figured volute-krater with Herakles and the Lion on one side of the neck, and a battle on the other. A huge black-figure cup served as the lid of the krater: it is the cup in the manner of the Andokides Painter, Florence 74624 (ARV. p. 6 no. 20).16 The second chamber contained nothing of note.

D. M. Robinson, AJA 36 (1932), p. 406; Brommer 1960, p. 356, no. B 21; Carpenter 1962, pp. 81-82, fig. 19; C. G. Boulter, Hesperia 32 (1963), p. 131, under no. 10; ARV2, p. 605, no. 62; B. Schmaltz, MarbWPr 1968, p. 33; Buitron 1972, p. 118; Isler & Seiterle 1973, pp. 102 (note 46), 103 (note 57), 104-105 (M. Schmidt); Brommer 1973, p. 505, no. 16; M. Robertson 1975, pp. 270, 663, note 197; D. A. Amyx, Arch. News V, 2 (Summer, 1976), p. 27, fig. 2; J. Breslin, A Greek Prayer (J. Paul Getty Museum), p. 18 (illus.); CVA, Prague, Université Charles, 1, p. 50, under no. 75.2 (J. Bažant, J. Bouzek, M. Dufková, and I. Ondřejová); H. A. Weis, AJA 83 (1979), p. 218, note 24; A. Lezzi-Hafter, AntK 29 (1986), p. 92, note 10; Schefold & Jung 1988, pp. 83-85 (fig. 96), 366; H. R. Goette, JdI 103 (1988), p. 436, note 155a; Maas & Snyder 1989, p. 231, note 82; Beazley Addenda 2, p. 267.

1 Helbig spoke of a goad, Edward Robinson of 'lances and staves', Guthrie of spears, but they are all spits.

2 In Hauser's view (Jb. 29 p. 26) the sickle on our vase is simply 'the true Thracian form of knife and sword, the ἅρπη, described as μάχαιρα καμπύλη, or the Θρᾳκικὸν ξίφος ἐπικαμπές, evidence for which is given by Thomaschek Die alten Thraker i, 119 (Wiener Sitzungsberichte 1893)'. I regard it as an ordinary sickle.

The harpe or sickle of Perseus is sometimes seen to be a combination of knife and saw: a surgeonly instrument, the knife for the flesh and the saw for the bone.

3 (From Addenda to Parts I and II) P. 73, second paragraph: the woman (3) has not been given two left hands.

4 On the pestle (ὕπερος, ὕπερον) see A. W. Mair Hesiod pp. 147-52, and Massow in AM. 41 pp. 57-8.

It is curious that in the Iliupersis cup by the Brygos Painter in the Louvre (Louvre G 25: FR. pl. 25, whence Hoppin Rf. p. 118 and Pfuhl figs. 419-20), where Andromache wields a ὕπερος, the Achaean warrior who corresponds to her on the other half of the picture bears the extraordinary name of Ὕπερος (even more forcible here than Malleus Scotorum), and that in the picture of the Death of Priam on an Attic black-figured amphora from Monte Romano, formerly in the Mastrozzi collection, later in the possession of Alessandro Castellani (drawing R.I. 1866, 28), one of the warriors has a pair of ὕπεροι as the device on his shield.

For the name Ὕπερος compare Servius on Aen. 9, 4: 'Pilumnus et Pitumnus fratres fuerunt di: horum Pitumnus usum stercorandorum inuenit agrorum, unde et Sterculinius dictus est, Pilumnus vero pinsandi frumenti, unde et a pistoribus deus colitur; ab ipso et pilum dictum est.'

A pestle is used as a weapon by a satyr in the 'slave revolt' on the bf. lekythos by the Beldam Painter, Athens 1129 (AM. 16 pl. 9; Haspels ABL. pl. 49 with p. 170).

5 Oedipus holds a harpe, to cut off the Sphinx's head, on a hydria-fragment in Athens, Athens, Acr. 686 (Langlotz pl. 53, misprinted 886: ARV. p. 399, Undetermined Mannerists no. 73): a unique version of the legend, as Langlotz says.

6 (From Addenda to Parts I and II) P. 73. On a cup with the Death of Orpheus, by the Painter of Louvre G 265 (ARV.2 p. 416 no. 2), in a private collection at Lausanne, the weapons are two javelins, six spears, two axes, a spit, two harpai (sickles with serrated edge), and a rock; on a stamnos, probably by the Dokimasia Painter, in the market (ARV.2 p. 1652), they are a spit, two javelins, two swords, and an axe.

7 I cannot find the fragment which I once saw for a moment, judged to be by the Kleophrades Painter, and thought might perhaps represent Orpheus (ARV. p. 127 no. 82): it had better be struck out of the list.

8 (From Addenda to Part II) P. 73, note 3. The Louvre fragment by the Kleophrades Painter, which I once thought might represent Orpheus, is part of a stamnos with Gigantomachy.

9 (From Addenda to Parts I and II) P. 74, no. 27: Prof. Rumpf tells me that this is in the National Museum, Dublin.

10 I give no list of vases with this subject, but note that one of them, the pelike Tartu 152, from Cervetri, is by the Villa Giulia Painter (Malmberg and Felsberg pl. 2, 4: A, Orpheus and a Thracian; B, youth and woman).

11 For the style compare the following:

  • 1. Fragment of a calyx-krater (rather than a bell-krater) in Boston, Boston 13.206: FR. ii p. 264 fig. 94b, whence Bull. Comm. 1930, 59. Apparently a Centauress, as Hauser. The remains on the left are hard to explain: a tiara? Orpheus, and she listening? But one seems to see an arm and hand holding the object.
  • 2. Fragment of a calyx-krater in New York, New York 20.195. Trendall Frühit. pl. 30, b-c. Priam at the feet of Achilles.
  • 3. Fragment of a calyx-krater in New York, New York 20.196. Apollo. Trendall Frühit. pl. 30, c. From the other side, I believe, of the same vase as the last. The difference of scale is no objection.

12 So also on the Amsterdam vase (not an alopeke, as Watzinger).

13 The devices tattooed on Thracian women in vase-paintings are evidence for primitive Thracian art. It is not as if painters had to invent the devices; they had opportunity of observing them in Thracian slaves.

14 (From Addenda to Parts I and II) P. 75: with the Orpheus skyphos-fragment Heidelberg 26.90 and the fragment of an Italiote calyx-krater in Florence (Florence PD 462), compare now the Italiote bell-krater in Toronto published in Anz. 1956 p. 211.

15 Chicago 07.12: shape II: a youth (wrap, boots, ivy-wreath) moves to left, the lyre in his left hand: Orpheus according to Fröhner (Vente van Branteghem no. 93). The artist is a clumsy imitator of the Chicago Painter: by the same, an oinochoe of the same shape in Naples (Naples 3136: phot. Sommer 11069, iv, 2: cup-bearer).

16 According to Milani the cup is from Bettolle, according to the museum label from Cesa near Bettolle. The same site is no doubt meant.

hide References (2 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (2):
    • Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library, 1.3.2
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.30.6
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