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Anonymous (Moon No. 32)

Attic Black-Figure Amphora (Type B) The Painter of Berlin 1686 ca. 550 B.C.

Lent anonymously through the courtesy of the Elvehjem Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Purchased from Lincoln Higgie, Chicago.

The Vase: H. 29.9 cm; W. 20.6 cm; D. of mouth 12.3 cm; D. of foot 10.6 cm. Intact and in superior state of preservation: minor abrasion on handles; chips and flaking of black from picture panel on Side A; incrustation under foot and inside neck. Added color is everywhere thickly applied and purple-brown in color. Some details of incision on Side B, confined to the florals and to the helmet of the warrior on the extreme left, seem white and fresh. The neck inside is glazed to a depth of 4.4 cm and the black is applied unevenly on the insides of handles and under the overhang of the lip.

Decoration: Side A: warrior leaving home. A warrior with long hair, wearing only helmet and greaves and carrying a large shield on his left arm, a spear in the opposite hand, appears to be departing. Two small children (represented as small adults) are at his feet; one seems to be tugging at the shield, the other gestures with his left hand. The warrior is accompanied by six other figures, which brings the total to nine, including children. An elderly man, with curly hair and beard, stands directly before the warrior and behind this man are two others, also bearded, the first in a chlamys, the second wrapped in a banded himation. Behind the warrior is a woman, perhaps his wife, who wears a solid-colored peplos and a shawl with star-patterns. She has a necklace. She has her back to a nude kouros and, further along, to an elderly fellow in a striped himation. There are meaningless inscriptions in the field and festoons of lotus and palmettes above the scene. Added red: helmet, greaves, inside of shield, bands on mantle and himatia, woman's peplos; hairdos of both youth and bearded man on extreme left, hair of child in front of warrior; fillets; cuffs of lotus blossoms and hearts of palmette fans. Side B: assemblage of warriors and gods(?). In the center a bearded man, facing right, wears a himation which is banded horizontally - not diagonally as one sees elsewhere on the vase; this might be a god. On either side are two groups, each with three figures. In the forward group a youthful, clean-shaven Hermes, his long hair bound in a pug with side locks, faces and, possibly along with the central figures, addresses a tall warrior and another bearded gentleman dressed in a himation. Hermes wears chiton and chlamys, petasos and winged boots and carries in his right hand the kerykeion. The warrior has a highcrested Corinthian-type helmet, a shield without emblem, and greaves; the optimate behind, seemingly middle-aged, has a short beard and shorter hair than the rest. The other group of three, except for its warrior, has older men, one an elder Hermes, the other a noticeably balding man in a fancy himation - with broad stripes, border of meander around the neck, and "x" patterns at the shoulder and near the foot. This Hermes sports a banded and fringed mantle, has winged boots, traveling hat and kerykeion or staff. Without a sleeve on the garment, the double incised lines around his neck, unless they represent jewelry, have little meaning. Hermes strides to the left, the old man too and, apparently with open mouths, they speak to the warrior who approaches and faces them. The warrior's long hair spills from under his low-crested Corinthian-type helmet. We see the inner side of his shield (complete with hand-grip and tassels), the spear and greaves. Florals similar to Side A. Added red: both Hermes' winged boots; the brim of the youthful god's hat; the crown of the hat, hair and beard of the elder Hermes; bands on himatia and mantles; warriors' helmets and their plumage or crests; insides of one shield and central area on the exterior of the other; greaves; hair and beards of gentlemen; cuffs of lotuses and hearts of palmette fans. Two closely spaced red bands run around the vase under the picture panels and another is above the zone of rays. Zone of rays above foot. Meaningless inscriptions in the field. Graffito and dipinto similar to those on the amphora type B by the same painter at The Art Institute of Chicago (see Chicago 1978.114).

This amphora and its companion at The Art Institute of Chicago are attributed by Dietrich von Bothmer. One thinks of them as a pair because of the nearly identical measurements vase to vase, because of the comparable amount of glazing inside the neck, and especially because of the similar red-brown dipinto under the foot. There are differences: the added red color on both sides of this vase is purple, while on the Chicago amphora the color is rust or red-brown. The painter uses no added white here but employs it extensively on the other. On this vase no red circles are found around the nipples on the males' chests; the woman's face, hands, and feet are drawn in outline and not, as expected, indicated in paint. Chevron patterns frame the panels on the Chicago amphora; two vertical lines in dilute glaze suffice here. The painter takes his name from an amphora of similar type and date in Berlin (ABV, 296, no. 4). On the obverse a procession of three youths, headed by a priestess carrying three olive branches in each hand, leads a cow to be sacrificed before a statue of Athena Polias (this is the same statue which seems to be represented on the black-figure eye-cup lent to this exhibition by Mr. and Mrs. Arthur J. Frank: see Moon 1979, no. 59). The youth in the center of the three on Side A of the Berlin amphora compares favorably in details of the face and hair to the nude youth behind the woman on Side A of this vase in Madison; the warrior in the center of this scene has the same rather oddly designed chest.

The painter's scenes are as dense with figures as they are elaborate and careful with detail. Even in traditional stories he adds figures — Nemea to the story of Herakles and the Lion (see Chicago 1978.114). Beazley himself might have commented that the painter makes a longer story out of a shorter one; I know of no wedding procession in the panel of a black-figure amphora that has a larger cast than the nuptial of Zeus and Hera on the painter's vase (London B 197; ABV, 296, no. 1). Besides the special pair in a quadriga, the count is six attendant gods and a small Siren. As this pair of amphorae readily demonstrates, the Painter of Berlin 1686 wants always to impress: either with archaeological details — the specifics of the interior of shields, ornamental curls on helmets, tops of arrows arranged in the quiver, fringes and borders of garments — or with the depiction of different ages of personages; with that sheer welter of participants, or with copious inscriptions which, by their presence alone, conjure up an heroic air.

Both sides of the Madison amphora bear inscriptions, some lengthy, all meaningless and compounds of the same formula, EOS (for other vases by the painter with similar inscriptions: J. D. Beazley, "Some Inscriptions on Vases: 11," AJA 33 [1929] 361-362) Was the painter illiterate? Would that the inscriptions on the Madison amphora could provide a clue to what otherwise are confounding and, in the case of the double Hermes on Side B, unique depictions. This is another point of contrast in the pair of amphorae: the Chicago amphora has somewhat typical scenes and no inscriptions. The juxtaposition of a youthful and bearded Hermes in the same scene is unprecedented in black-figure vase-painting or, for that matter, in the sixth century. Could the youthful fellow be a different god?

Perseus stole winged boots and the traveling hat from the three Graiai (Apollod. 2.4.2-3) — oddly enough at Hermes' own suggestion. As liberator of sorts, Perseus carries a weapon, mostly the harpe or scimitar and at times a sword. "As Hermes is closely connected with Perseus as his helper and protector, he sometimes appears next to the latter on the same vase, distinguished from him only by the Kerykeion" (T. H. Price, "'To be or not to be' on an Attic Black-Figure Pelike," AJA 75 [1971] 433, with examples). If the Painter of Berlin 1686 appears illiterate, as we think, he could well have made the simple mistake of giving the youthful figure, Perseus, the staff instead of the sickle or sword. Our investigation could end at this point.

But that this vase-decorator intended two depictions of Hermes, one young, one older, is still a viable possibility. A late red-figured calyx-krater in Athens (Athens, NM 1669) was interpreted recently as showing two Herms on one base: "one youthful with long hair, the other bearded" (T. H. Price, "Double and Multiple Representations in Greek Art and Religious Thought," JHS (1971) 58. This pair of Herms had previously been interpreted as Aphrodite and Hermes but the youthful member with long hair seems definitely female (Metzger 1965, 83 and 90, pl. 31.2). In very early Greek times, in the world of Homer, the god does seem to have been thought of as young and beautiful (Hom. Il. 24.347). The messenger god had many other natures or aspects, appealing in one perhaps to the young, in another to those older. In Athens he was held as Hegemonios, which, as the name implies, was leader of the men to war, and the strategoi sacrificed to him under this title (Farnell 1977, 22). In many parts of Greece he was worshipped with reference to athletics and the palaestra (Farnell 1977, p. 29). Most of all, with the contrasting epithets of Hermes Chthonios and Epichthonios one could visualize an older and a younger aspect of the same deity (J. Orgogoza, "L'Hermès des Achéens," Revue de l'Histoire des Religions 136 [1949] 146 and 164).

Although the painter has taken some pains to distinguish the ages of his figures on Side B of the Madison amphora, to grant the Painter of Berlin 1686 the sophisticated power of religious synthesis might be a real extension of his abilities. This double depiction — of Hermes at least as the attributes given us seem to suggest — is probably nothing more than artistic tour de force. As he contrasted so many other aspects on this pair of amphorae, so too for novelty's sake, we have two Hermes. Side A of this vase, "warrior leaving home," attended by two children, seems to be generic. The children are probably space-fillers like the little man on the far right of Side B of the Chicago amphora (see Chicago 1978.114).



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