History Podcasts

Red-figure Bell Krater with Griffin

Red-figure Bell Krater with Griffin


Red-Figure Pottery in Greek Art

Near the end of the sixth century B.C., a revolution took place in vase painting techniques in Athens. Instead of painting the figures black (see accompanying photo of pancratists) on orange-red clay, the new vase painters left the figures red and painted the background around the red figures black. Where black-figure artists engraved details through the black to reveal the underlying base reddish color (see the lines delineating muscles in the pancratists photo), this technique would serve no purpose on red figures on pottery, since the underlying material was identically reddish-colored clay. Instead, artists using the new style enhanced their figures with black, white, or truly red lines.

Named for the basic color of the figures, this form of pottery is called red-figure.

The style of painting continued to evolve. Euphronios is one of the most important of the painters from the early red-figure period. Simple style came first, often focusing on Dionysus. It grew more complex as it became more widely used, with techniques spreading throughout the Greek world.

Tip: Of the two, black-figure came first, but if you're looking at a large collection at a museum, it's easy to forget. Remember that whatever color the vase appears, it's still clay, and therefore reddish: clay=red. It is more obvious to paint black figures on a red substrate than it is to paint negative space, so the red figures are more evolved. I usually forget, anyway, so I just check the dates of a couple, and go from there.

For more information, see: "Attic Red-Figured and White-Ground Pottery," Mary B. Moore. The Athenian Agora, Vol. 30 (1997).


THE ARIMPASPIAN TRIBE

Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 802 ff. (trans. Weir Smyth) (Greek tragedy C5th B.C.) :
"[Prometheus warns the wandering maiden Io :] &lsquoBut now listen to another and a fearsome spectacle. Beware of the sharp-beaked hounds of Zeus that do not bark, the Grypes (Griffins), and the one-eyed (monôpoi) Arimaspoi (Arimaspians), mounted on horses, who dwell about the flood of Plouton's (Pluton's) stream that flows with gold. Do not approach them.&rsquo"

Herodotus, Histories 3. 116. 1 (trans. Godley) (Greek historian C5th B.C.) :
"But in the north of Europe there is by far the most gold. In this matter again I cannot say with assurance how the gold is produced, but it is said that one-eyed men called Arimaspoi (Arimaspians) steal it from Grypes (Griffins). The most outlying lands, though, as they enclose and wholly surround all the rest of the world, are likely to have those things which we think the finest and the rarest."

Herodotus, Histories 4. 13. 1 :
"There is also a story related in a poem by Aristeas son of Kaüstrobios [Greek poet C7th B.C.], a man of Prokonnesos. This Aristeas, possessed by Phoibos (Phoebus) [Apollon], visited the Issedones beyond these (he said) live the one-eyed Arimaspoi (Arimaspians), beyond whom are the Grypes (Griffins) that guard gold, and beyond these again the Hyperboreoi (Hyperboreans), whose territory reaches to the sea. Except for the Hyperboreoi, all these nations (and first the Arimaspoi) are always at war with their neighbors the Issedones were pushed from their lands by the Arimaspoi, and the Skythians (Scythians) by the Issedones."

Arimaspian fighting Griffin, Athenian red-figure calyx krater C5th B.C., British Museum

Herodotus, Histories 4. 27. 1 :
"Of these too, then, we have knowledge but as for what is north of them, it is from the Issedones that the tale comes of the one-eyed men [Arimaspoi (Arimaspians)] and the Grypes (Griffins) that guard gold this is told by the Skythians (Scythians), who have heard it from them and we have taken it as true from the Skythians, and call these people by the Skythian name, Arimaspoi for in the Skythian tongue arima is one, and spou is the eye."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 1. 24. 6 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"Grypas (Griffins), Aristeas of Prokonnesos [Greek poet C7th B.C.] says in his poem, fight for the gold with the Arimaspoi (Arimaspians) beyond the Issedones. The gold which the Grypas (Griffins) guard, he says, comes out of the earth the Arimaspoi are men all born with one eye Grypas are beasts like lions, but with the beak and wings of an eagle."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 1. 31. 2 :
"At Prasiai (Prasiae) [in Attika] is a temple of Apollon. Hither they say are sent the first-fruits of the Hyperboreans, and the Hyperboreans are said to hand them over to the Arimaspoi (Arimaspians), the Arimaspoi to the Issedones, from these the Skythians (Scythians) bring them to Sinope, thence they are carried by Greeks to Prasiai, and the Athenians take them to Delos."

Pliny the Elder, Natural History 4. 88 (trans. Rackham) (Roman encyclopedia C1st A.D.) :
"Along the [Black Sea] coast [of Europe], as far as the river Tanais [the Don], are the Maeotae [a Skythian tribe] . . . and last of all in the rear of the Maeotae are the Arimaspi (Arimaspians). Then come the Ripaean Mountains [perhaps the Carpathians] and the region called Peterophorus, because of the feather-like snow continually falling there . . . Behind these mountains and beyond Aquilo (the North Wind) [Boreas] there dwells--if we can believe it--a happy race of people called the Hyperboreans."

Arimaspians fighting Griffins, Athenian red-figure bell krater C5th B.C., Ashmolean Museum

Pliny the Elder, Natural History 7. 10 :
"Also a tribe is reported next to these [i.e. the tribes of Scythia], towards the North, not far from the actual quarter where Aquilo (the North Wind) [Boreas] rises and the cave that bears its name, the place called the Earth's Door-Bolt (Ges Clithron)--the Arimaspi (Arimpaspians) whom we have spoke of already, people remarkable for having one yes in the centre of their forehead. Many authorities, the most distinguished being Herodotus [Greek historian C5th B.C.] and Aristeas of Proconnesus [Greek poet C7th B.C.], write that these people wage continual war with the Grypes (Griffins), a kind of wild beast with wings, as commonly reported, that digs gold out of mines, which the creatures guard and the Arimaspi try to take from them, both with remarkable covetousness."

Suidas s.v. Arimsaspeios (trans. Suda on Line) (Byzantine Lexicon C10th A.D.) :
"Arimaspeios (Arimaspeian) : A place. Also Arimaspos, its ethnikon."

THE ARIMOI TRIBE

The Arimaspoi may be the same as the Arimoi tribe mentioned briefly by the ancient poets Homer and Hesiod. Homer also mentions a similarly named Skythian tribe, the Kimmeroi, in the Odyssey. According to Herodotos the word arimos came from the Skythian language.


The J. Paul Getty Museum

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Apulian Red-Figure Bell Krater

Rainone Painter (Greek (Apulian), active about 375 - 350 B.C.) 27.3 cm (10 3/4 in.) 96.AE.112

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Currently on view at: Getty Villa, Gallery 109, The Greeks in Southern Italy and Sicily

Alternate Views

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Object Details

Title:

Apulian Red-Figure Bell Krater

Artist/Maker:

Attributed to the Rainone Painter (Greek (Apulian), active about 375 - 350 B.C.)

Culture:

Greek (South Italian, Apulian)

Place:

Apulia, South Italy (Place Created)

Medium:
Object Number:
Dimensions:
Credit Line:

Gift of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman

Alternate Title:

Mixing Vessel with a Theatrical Parody (Display Title)

Department:
Classification:
Object Description

The scene on the front of this Apulian red-figure bell-krater depicts a phlyax play, a type of farce parodying mythology, popular in the Greek colonies in South Italy in the 300s B.C. The actors wear a distinctive costume of mask, tights, padded tunic, and large artificial phallus. On a simple stage set, an actor costumed as an old man removes the lid of a chest to reveal a diminutive figure with a ram's head and a large erection. Looking bewildered, a second old man clasps the child's wrist. The back of the vase bears a typical scene of three standing youths.

The theatrical scene has been variously interpreted. It might represent a parody of the mythical birth of Erichthonios. In the myth, Hephaistos, the craftsman god, attempted to have sex with Athena. When she resisted, some of Hephaistos's semen fell on her leg. She wiped it off with a piece of wool and threw it away, accidentally impregnating Ge, the earth. The child who emerged, Erichthonios, was cared for by Athena and kept in a sacred basket on the Athenian Akropolis. In the theatrical version depicted on this vase, the elaborate doorway at the left of the stage could represent Athena's temple, and the ram's head on the child might allude to the wool in the story.

Another reading sees this image as a parody of the death of Pelias, king of Iolkhos, who refused to give up his throne after Jason successfully brought back the Golden Fleece. Medea, who had travelled back with Jason, persuaded Pelias's daughters that she could rejuvenate their aged father. To demonstrate, she cut up an old ram and put the parts into a boiling pot. From the water jumped a young animal. Pelias's daughters did the same to their father, only to kill him. On this vase, perhaps, the two elderly men have tried to rejuvenate one of their companions, only for him to emerge as a ram-headed youth.


Harvard 9.1988 (Vase)

Unbroken minor flaking and abrasion hard incrustation on the handles, rim, lower body, and foot.

Decoration Description:

Side A : A unique and lovely scene set in the women's quarters of a private dwelling. Two women are removing their pubic hair by singeing them with lighted oil lamps, a delicate procedure to say the least. The woman at right is being assisted by Eros himself, who kneels before her, his wings stretched out behind him. He wears a laurel wreath but is otherwise nude. With his left hand he holds the lamp, the flame of which is drawn with added white, and with the fingers of his right hand he pulls away the singed hairs. The woman holds her cloak up with her left hand, revealing her nudity, which is otherwise interrupted only by the crossed cords over her shoulders and between her breast. Her chiton, which the cords would help to hold in place when worn, lies rolled up on the stool at right (a diphros , with a cushion embroidered with stripes and dotted lines). A mirror and a laurel wreath with white berries hang on the wall above Eros. At the left, a second woman is seated to the right on a klismos. She sits on her himation and is nude except for a thigh-band drawn with dilute glaze and crossed cords like those worn by the first woman (these cords cross over the right breast, not between them). She holds a lighted oil lamp in her left hand and picks at her pubic hairs with the other, her face a frowning mask of concentration. Her curly hair, drawn with thinned glaze, is tied in a chignon on top of her head the hair of the first woman is pulled up and tied in back, not on top. Above the seated woman, a fillet with white tassels hangs on the wall.

Side B : Three draped youths stand in conversation, the two at left facing the one at right. All three wear himations and apicate fillets of added white. The youth in the center has longer hair than the other two, and although he is the same height, this may indicate he is younger in support of this interpretation is the fact that the youth at right reaches toward the central youth's head with his right hand, as though accosting him.

A laurel wreath circles the vase below the rim. Bands of egg-pattern nearly circle the handle roots the area between the handle roots is reserved. Reserved stripes circle the side of the foot at top and bottom. The groundlines consist of groups of three maeanders to right alternating with cross squares on side B, and two cross-squares and one saltire-square on side A.

Bell-krater: bell-shaped body tapering to a broad stem disk foot two horizontal handles, tilted upward slender torus rim.


Python's Red-Figure Style

The vase painter Python is one of only two such artists from ancient Italy whose names have survived on extant works. His workshop was located roughly fifty miles south of modern Naples in the port city of Paestum, styled by its Greek founders after the sea god Poseidon. Alongside his tutor (and possible relative) Asteas, Python produced works purely in the red-figure style, largely conforming to traditional mythological and Dionysian scenes.

Only two signed works by Python are known and both reside in institutions: one in The British Museum (1890,0210.1) and the second in the Paestum Museum (21370). This rare piece is from a wider but still limited corpus of unsigned works attributed to him.

LOT 89 | RED FIGURE BELL KRATER ATTRIBUTED TO PYTHON | PAESTUM, C. 340-330 B.C. | 36.5cm tall | Provenance: Max van Berchem (1863 – 1921), Switzerland Jorg Baron von Bistram, Bad Reichenhall, Germany Private collection, United Kingdom | Sold for £16,875 incl premium

A vessel designed for the mixing of wine and water at a symposion, it is unsurprising that this bell krater is painted with a series of Dionysian scenes so beloved of the Magna Graecian communities. In the earliest years of colonization, pottery had been imported from Greece, indeed at Paestum there is considerable evidence of 6th – 5th century Athenian and Corinthian wares brought from across the Mediterranean. However, by the 4th century many cities had begun to produce painted pottery of their own, these workshops produced at a stunning rate and began to export around the immediate region. The painted scenes produced by these new workshops remained tied to the Greek heartland, focusing on a distinctly Greek visual vocabulary.

Paestum was no exception and by the second half of the 4th century the Asteas-Python workshop was flourishing, with both individuals signing their names in Greek. Works such as the present example acted to reinforce a sense of Greek identity to those who resided so far from the Greek mainland.

We were delighted to include this Red Figure Bell Krater attributed to Python picturing a scene with a youthful Dionysus in our May 2020 online auction of African & Oceanic Art, Antiquities and Natural History.


Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum. The Nicholson Museum, The University of Sydney. The Red Figure Pottery of Apulia. The Nicholson Museum Fascicule 1 [Australia Fascicule 1]

It is appropriate for many reasons that the first Australian fascicule of the CVA be devoted to the red-figure vases of Apulia. It was Australian scholarship that produced the first monograph devoted to the Apulian vase painters of the Plain Style, an elegant volume by Alexander Cambitoglou and Dale Trendall whose publication was underwritten by the Australian Humanities Research Council in 1961. 1 The two scholars subsequently co-authored several volumes detailing lists of vases and painters of Apulia from 1978 to 1992. 2 With the work of Cambitoglou, Trendall (Paestan, Lucanian, Campanian, Sicilian), Richard Green (Gnathian) and Ian McPhee (fish-plates), the antipodes have become virtually synonymous with scholarship on the vases of South Italy and Sicily. One of the authors, Alexander Cambitoglou, is a former Honorary Curator of the Nicholson Museum (1963-2000), while his co-author, Michael Turner, is currently a senior curator at the Nicholson.

The first Apulian vases to enter the museum were donated by the museum’s founder Sir Charles Nicholson who gave 28 Apulian vases in 1860. As the Honorary Curator of the Nicholson Museum from 1939 until 1954, Trendall actively acquired South Italian vases for the growing collection following the second world war. One of his best known acquisitions is the bell krater by the Tarporley Painter which depicts three actors preparing for a satyr play. Surprisingly it is only one of two extant South Italian vases showing actors dressed for the performance of a satyr play. Because this vase was formerly in the collection of Sir William Hamilton and so was drawn by Tischbein, a reproduction of the engraving would have enhanced this volume.

This CVA breaks ground on two fronts. First, all of the eighty-six vases and fragments are reproduced in color. The use of color plates is especially appropriate for Apulian vases which depend to a great extent on added color for their overall effect. All the vases and sherds were photographed under the same lighting conditions so one can compare clay color from one vase to the next. A considerable number of the plates are generously given over to one side of a single vase, and side views are provided as well as front and back. Second, a CD of digital images is included for the first time in a CVA this allows one to read the text and study the images without having to flip back to the plates which are bound into the volume. In preparation for this volume old restorations were removed, and the Tarantine rhyton was taken apart, demonstrating that it was an amalgam of various different pots.

The Nicolson collection of Apulian vases has a representative sampling of the most common shapes. Among the complete vases are 12 bell kraters, 11 pelikai, 10 oinochoai, 7 squat lekythoi, 3 hydriae, 2 skyphoi, 2 lebetes gamikoi, 2 pyxides, and one each of a volute krater, fish plate, kantharos, and lekanis lid. The fragmentary rhyton takes the shape of the head of a Laconian hound. Fragments of known shape are placed in the catalogue together with complete vases of that shape, and profile drawings are included.

Among the unusual pieces is a cylindrical pyxis, the lid of which is decorated with the profile head of Hephaistos who is extremely rare in Apulian pottery. A pair of tongs next to the bearded head serves to identify him. A fragment of a bell krater shows Dionysos riding a griffin, a subject known in Attic vase painting but not otherwise in South Italian. On another bell krater fragment Nike appears bearing a large phiale on which sits an epichysis, a shape rarely depicted in South Italian vase painting. One of the hydriae has the only known example of a naiskos housing a kithara it may allude to the deceased’s love of music. A skyphos shows an agile female acrobat doing a handstand on a turntable with her legs over her shoulders, accompanied by two birds.

Not surprisingly several vases bear imagery derived from Greek drama. In addition to the Tarpoley Painter’s vase mentioned above, a chous attributed to the Truro Painter shows two comic actors: an aggressive female presumably berating her husband. The broad reserved band on which they stand represents the stage. A bell krater by the Lecce Painter presents a lively chase: a figure carrying the attributes of Herakles (club and animal skin) runs after a cake thief. A fragment of a large unidentified vase preserves a violent scene in which a heavily bearded man collapses through a doorway to the side of which is a tall Ionic column (a palace?). Scattered in the vicinity are overturned vessels, a couch and a table on which a figure seems to be standing. It has been suggested that the scene derives from a tragedy, possibly Euripides’ Madness of Herakles wherein the bearded man would be Lykos. A chous with a depiction of Pentheus attacked by two bakchai does not seem to derive from a performance as the Theban king is dressed as a hunter.

In addition to the usual Dionysiac subjects, there are some mythological scenes of interest. A fragment of a skyphos shows Ajax’s rape of Cassandra (her name inscribed) noteworthy is the fact that she clenches part of her garment in her teeth, a gesture of despair or shame. A bell krater fragment preserves the frontal face of one of the Dioskouroi, with a large added white star in the field to his right. A large fragment from the shoulder of a hydria attributed to the Sarpedon Painter preserves three Danaids carrying hydriae a fragment at Leiden University was recognized by Trendall as coming from the same vase so it is a pity that it was not illustrated here. A unique scene appears on one of the lebetes gamikoi: the anodos of Adonis. He is depicted rising out of the ground into the arms of Aphrodite. Much of the added color on this vase had disappeared, but a detailed drawing presents a reconstruction of the lost portions.

An unusual bell krater shows a young nude male embracing a taller draped female as an eros in mid-flight leads her by the hand toward an open door. The scene has been interpreted as one of marriage with the couple being led to the bridal chamber. Since doorways are unusual except in wedding scenes, this interpretation seems reasonable, although the authors suggest that the scene could be one of farewell with the woman being led to the underworld.

This CVA is extensively indexed. One can find a vase by inventory number, shape, RVAp chapter, LIMC reference, painter or group, and subject including separate indices for mythological figures and vessels represented on pots. All complete shapes are accorded profile drawings at a scale of 1:5. Another drawing shows how the preliminary sketch (rendered in red to differentiate it) on a bell krater differs from the final product. The entries are as complete as one would wish and several even include the results of clay analysis. It struck this reviewer as odd that vessels are consistently called ‘pots’ when the term ‘vase’ is common to so many western languages.

For those interested in the vases of South Italy in general and Apulia in particular this first Australian fascicule of the CVA with its CD will make rewarding reading and viewing. One can look forward with anticipation to future fascicules of the Nicholson Museum if they continue to be produced at this high level of quality and scholarship.


Black-Figure Sherds

Black-figure vase painting developed during the Early Archaic period (c. 600–550 BCE), when vase painters in Athens applied the silhouettes of their subject matter by means of a thin clay slip (which turns black when kiln-fired) to the courser clay surface of the vase (which turns red when fired). Interior details such as eyes and ears were then carefully incised through the slip to expose the clay below.

1. Lydos Workshop (Greek, active c. 560–540 BCE), attributed by Dietrich Von Bothmer, Sherd of an Attic Black-Figure Hydria Depicting a Youth, Greece, Athens, c. 550 BCE, 2 1/2 x 3 7/8 inches. Collection of Middlebury College Museum of Art, gift (by exchange) of Wilson Farnsworth, George Mead, and Henry Sheldon, 2016.089.

An early black-figure sherd in Middlebury’s collection shows the right edge and black border of a figural panel and the upper body of a youth, facing left and energetically clapping his hands. From the shape we can deduce that the sherd came from a hydria, a water jar with three handles. The sherd was attributed by Dietrich Von Bothmer (1918–2009), the erstwhile curator of Antiquities at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, to a vase painter whose name we know because he signed his name on two vases as “ό Λυδός,” (“ho Lydos”), meaning “the Lydian.” This name indicates that he or his father was an immigrant from Lydia, in Asia Minor (the west coast of modern-day Turkey). From his style, however, it is clear that he trained in Athens where he subsequently established himself as a prominent and influential artist. This is indicative of Athens’ artistic draw during the Early Archaic Period, attracting artists from near and far in the Ancient Greek world.

2. Psiax (Greek, active c. 525–510 BCE), attributed by Ernst Langlotz, Sherd of an Attic Black-Figure Type-B Amphora Depicting the Heads of a Horse and an Attendant, Greece, Athens, c. 530 BCE, 2 1/2 x 2 1/8 inches. Collection of Middlebury College Museum of Art, purchase with funds provided by the Frederick and Martha Lapham Art Acquisition Fund, 2013.093.

A second black-figure sherd depicts the face of a horse and the head of a youthful attendant with a panel border behind him. The shape and border indicate the sherd comes from an amphora, a two-handled storage jug usually used for wine. The sherd was attributed by Ernst Langlotz (1895–1978), a German scholar, to another artist we know by name because he too signed some of his vases with his name, “Ψίαξ,” “Psiax.” The artist was a vase painter active between c. 525 and 505 BCE, a period of great creativity and innovation. He worked with Andokides, the potter in whose workshop red-figure vase painting was invented around 525 BCE. Psiax himself worked both in the black-figure and in the red-figure technique, as well as in some other more experimental techniques. All of this is indicative of Athens’ innovative climate during the Late Archaic Period, where artists competed against each other and built upon each other’s ideas and work. As such, Early Archaic Athens was not unlike Flanders and Tuscany in the fifteenth century, Paris in the nineteenth century, or New York in the decades right after World War Two.

3. Theseus Painter (Greek, active c. 510–480 BCE), attributed by Dietrich Von Bothmer, Sherd of an Attic Black-Figure Skyphos Depicting Hermes and Ariadne, Greece, Athens, 500 BCE, 2 7/8 x 3 1/4 inches. Collection of Middlebury College Museum of Art, gift (by exchange) of Wilson Farnsworth, George Mead, and Henry Sheldon, 2016.090.

A third black-figure sherd is the rim of a large skyphos or drinking cup. It depicts Hermes, recognizable by his travel hat and beard, facing Ariadne, in a scene from the stories about Theseus, the hero and mythical king of Athens. Von Bothmer attributed the sherd to the so-called Theseus Painter, an anonymous Late Archaic vase painter whose subject matter nearly always pertains to the Athenian hero. The Theseus Painter continued to work in the the black-figure style long after red-figure had been invented. This is indicative of the artist’s conservative artistic personality.


The Multimodal Literacies Associated with the Aulos

This reference to the ability of the aulos to charm or distract from higher-level thinking illustrates Plato&rsquos view that mousiké is only valuable when it reinforces moral values versus vulgarity. [26] If we can assume listeners were literate in flute music (i.e. they could listen to it and know what it meant) the musical text of the flute (and its player) could be read as a competing conversation. For this reason, in Plato&rsquos Symposium Socrates establishes an ideal of an aulêtris-free symposium where flute girls are sent away so the male symposiasts can focus on conversation without distraction. [27]

Because the instrument prevented conversation, it was not useful when spoken dialectic was the central (i.e. most valued) activity. The aulos was also negatively perceived outside the symposium. Aristotle argues for banning the aulos in the classroom specifically in Politics, where he warns that auloi &ldquoproduce a passionate rather than an ethical experience in their auditors and so should be used on those occasions that call for catharsis rather than learning.&rdquo (Aristotle Politics 8.6 1341 17&ndash24) In short, Aristotle sees the aulos as an instrument not fit for the classroom because the type of music listened to affects the educational development of the soul. [28] Like Plato and Plutarch, Aristotle recognized that flute music, and all of its bodily and emotional associations, competed with intellectual thought.


ATTRIBUTED TO THE GROUP OF POLYGNOTOS, CIRCA 450-400 B.C.

Midas, the mythical king of Phrygia with legendary wealth, captured Silenos in order to elicit advice from the wise satyr. He tainted the spring from which Silenos drank with wine and, once inebriated, had him bound and brought before him. Silenos then proffered the gloomy insight that it was best for mortals never to have been born, and next best to die as soon as possible.

Literary references to this encounter are relatively limited correspondingly, vases depicting this scene are especially rare. M. C. Millar identified four 6th Century representations (see 'Midas as the Great King in Attic Fifth-Century Vase-Painting', Antike Kunst, 1988, vol. 31, p. 79-89), and the Beazley Archive lists just five Classical red-figure examples, including a bell-krater in the Lentini Museum (no. 9131), and the eponymous stamnos of the Midas Painter in the British Museum (acc. no. 1851.4-16.9). Additionally, scenes of the presentation of Silenos to Midas seem to have been less popular than scenes of the former's ambush. Attic vase-painters took care to evoke the Eastern character of the Phrygian king's court guards are shown in typically Oriental garb, the king sits upon an elaborate throne, and a single column is used as a synecdoche for an elaborate palace. Yet the humour of the encounter is unmistakably Greek. The self-indulgent Eastern king binds and kidnaps Silenos, an attempt to control a character who is the embodiment of the wild and ungovernable natural world. The wisdom he elicits by doing so is a reminder of the fundamentally wretched situation of mortal man, which even the most wealthy of tyrants cannot escape. Silenos, it seems, has the last laugh.


Watch the video: Griffins Tale (November 2021).