Presumably from Eretria. Ann. Rep. 1898, p. 74, no. 54. Beazley, V.A., p. 128. Metropolitan Museum, Shapes of Greek Vases, p. 28. Curtius, Pentheus, 88 Winckelmannsprogramm, Berlin, p. 4, figs. 7, 8. Richter, Ancient Furniture, figs. 85, 116. Drawings of the shape in Hambidge, Dyn. Sym., p. 49, and Caskey, G.G.V., p. 228, no. 182. The pyxis is of Beazley's form A, popular in the second half of the fifth century.1 The top of the lid is decorated in red-figure, with a tongue pattern round the knob, then a band of carefully drawn palmettes, then, next the rim, interlocking maeanders interrupted by squares with crosses in them. Its side has vertical black stripes. The hollow base has three openings cut into it, perhaps designed to facilitate handling.2 At the left end of the picture a cowherd stands in front view, leaning his right hand on a black, knotted club, his left arm bent with the hand to the front. He wears a red chiton, high black boots, and a cloak, probably of dappled fawn-skin. At his left, a suggestion of mountainous landscape. At his right, a cow in profile to right, stretching out her head so that her muzzle almost touches the shoulder of the woman who stands in front view with her head turned to right, holding a doubled red fillet in her right hand. These three figures form a group; and the woman is distinguished from her five sisters in that she wears a sakkos, and a white, dotted mantle, with red border, instead of a red mantle. Between the cow and the woman, a tree-trunk with a leafy branch issuing from it; and above the cow's back the foliage of the upper part of the tree. Next, a group of three women, more widely spaced. The first stands in profile to right, playing a cithara, which she holds with the help of a strap passed over her right wrist. A fringed end of the strap hangs down from the cithara. This has a sounding-box rounded at the bottom, and decorated with bosses in relief. The central figure of the group is seated to left on a folding campstool, δίφρος ὀκλαδίας, with crossed deer's legs. She holds a tortoise-shell lyre with her left hand and a plectrum in her right. Her head is in three-quarter view looking towards the woman at her right, who stands facing her, holding a phiale in her extended right hand, and a syrinx in her left. In the field to the right of the seated figure, a tendril with three spirals issuing from the ground; to the left a similar tendril without stem. These conventionalized plants are in strong contrast to the naturalistic rendering of the tree. At the right end of the picture, a group of two women: the first seated on a stool, playing the flute, the other standing before her, holding an apple in her outstretched right hand and in her left a cithara like that played by the second Muse, but seen from behind. It has four bosses; and its strap, partly obliterated, hangs from the lower arm. All six women wear Ionic chitons; all, except the first, red mantles variously draped. That of the last figure is drawn up over the back of the head. Beazley adds the following note on the subject and on the style: The pyxis is a woman's accessory, and pyxides are nearly always decorated with feminine subjects: weddings and the preparations for them, washing and dressing, work and pastime in the home. If a male comes in, he is one to many women, and the scene remains largely feminine. It is Peleus and Thetis and her sisters, Boreas and Oreithyia and her sisters, Poseidon and Amymone and her sisters, Odysseus and Nausicaa and her maids of honour. If Paris appears, it is to judge the three goddesses; if Perseus appears, it is to rob the three Graiai or quell the three Gorgons; if Pentheus appears, it is to be torn by many maenads. The only battles are one or two Amazonomachies. Apollo appears, but with several Muses. Zeus appears once — with his wife and two other goddesses.3 On our vase also there are six female figures and but one male. The females are not mortals: with cithara, lyre, syrinx, among rocks and wild plants, they can only be the Muses. The Muses had often been depicted (already on the chest of Cypselus, and on the François vase4); but in the early classical period the representations become more
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1 Numerous examples are illustrated in Metr. Mus. Shapes, and in Curtius, Pentheus. Beazley, in V.A., p. 128, lists ours as one of seven white pyxides, all of about the same date, of which the vase in New York, with the Judgement of Paris, is the finest.
2 This explanation, given in Metr. Mus. Shapes, is preferable to that of Curtius, l.c., p. 7, who supposes that the openings were needed because the pyxides were containers of perfume, and were placed in warm water to soften the contents.
4 See von Massow, in Ath. Mitt. xli, 1926, pp. 66-8.