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7. The Mannerists
Transcript of 7. The Mannerists
The Pan Painter
Perseus and Medusa, hydria
Boreas Pursuing Oreithyia, oinichoe
The Meidias Painter
Herakles & Dioskouroi, hydria
The Lykaon Painter
Odysseus and Elpenor, pelike
Perseus decapitates the Gorgon Medusa with a sickle sword (harpe). The hero wears the winged cap and boots of Hermes, and has the Gorgoneion (gorgon head) tucked inside the fold of his kibisis (sack). Beside him lies the decapitated corpose of the winged Gorgon. The goddess Athena follows close behind in support of Perseus, easily recognisable with her helm, spear and snake-trimmed aigis cloak.
Perseus, Medusa and Athena, Attic red-figure hydria, painted by Pan Painter, second quarter of the 5th century BC, British Museum, London
In the centre Medusa, a winged, headless figure in a short tied bordered chiton with sleeves, has fallen to the left, but supports herself on her rigid arms, resting only on the finger-tips, the blood flowing in a broad stream from the wound.
On the left, Perseus flees to left, both arms extended in front of him, and looking round at Medusa; he wears a chiton like that of Medusa, the winged hat (?) and talaria; at his side there hangs from his left shoulder the wallet (kibisis), in which the upper part of the Gorgoneion is visible, en face (with closed eyes, black hair around the forehead, and outside this a broad strip forming a sort of frame, shaded brownish); in his left hand is the harpe, sickle-shaped, the edge jagged, the handle ending in a spiral; his long hair is looped up over his ears.
On the right of Medusa, Athena runs to the left, carrying a very long spear over her right shoulder, and with her left hand raising the edge of her skirt; she wears a long undertied sleeved chiton, which has no folds, but a pattern of Vs, dotted aegis fringed with snakes, and a tall crested helmet; her long hair floats back, the ends drawn in thinned black.
This vase demonstrates an advanced stage of severe style.
Purple blood. Brown inner markings, upper folds of Medusa's chiton, and pinion feathers of her wings; on the upper part of Perseus' chiton no folds are visible. Eye in transition type (disc close to inner angle, which is opened).
The design is principally on the shoulder, and comes very little below the level of the side handles; below it, a strip of sets of three maeanders separated by red cross squares. Round the lip, egg pattern.
Boreas pursuing Oreithyia while her father grieves, Attic red-figure oinochoe, painted by the Pan Painter, second quarter of the 5th century BC, British Museum, London
On the body and shoulder: Boreas seizing Oreithyia. Boreas, a winged bearded figure with long hair, wearing a sleeveless chitoniscos tied, and endromides with wings or flaps, rushes to left, seizing with both hands the left arm of Oreithyia, who flees, looking back and raising both hands with a gesture of alarm. She wears a woollen Ionic chiton, and a small himation fastened on the right shoulder, and her hair is looped up with a fillet (left red).
On the left a Nymph (Herse?) flees, in a similar dress and attitude; her himation is fastened on the right shoulder, and her hair, confined with a fillet, falls down her back, with the ends fastened in a roll; she wears earrings.
On the extreme right, Erechtheus, a bearded bald old man, is seated on a rock, closely muffled in an himation which conceals his mouth and the lower part of his head; he looks downward in an attitude of dejection, his right hand striking his forehead, his left resting on a crutch-staff. He wears a fillet, indicated by a thin black line.
This vase demonstrates an advanced stage of severe style.
Purple fillet of girl on left and surface of lip of the vase. Brown upper folds of the long chitons, markings of rock and of anatomy; also the ends of the hair and beard of Boreas. Eye of archaic type, with inner angle open. The lower folds of the chiton of Oreithyia are grouped in regular sets of six to eight; that of the girl on left has no folds shown. The hair and beard of the old man are indicated in outline only; those of Boreas are treated as a black mass, from which long brown strokes are drawn. Below, a thin red line; above, a strip of tongue pattern, and on each side a strip of net pattern. Around the lower part of the neck is a moulding, on which is a band of pairs of maeanders separated by red cross squares.
Attic red-figure hydria, painted by the Meidias Painter, last quarter of the 5th century BC, British Museum, London (upper section, Girls abducted from a sanctuary of Aphrodite by the Dioskouroi; lower section, Herakles in the garden of the Hesperides)
Red-figured water jar (hydria), signed by Meidias as potter
The figures on this hydria are divided into two zones. The upper zone illustrates the abduction of the daughters of Leukippos by the Dioskouroi, Kastor and Polydeukes (Castor and Pollux). Aphrodite, goddess of love, sits in the lower part of the scene, clearly conniving in the abduction. Her attendant Peitho, goddess of Persuasion, flees from the scene, but Aphrodite and Zeus, father of the Dioskouroi, do not seem moved. The scene in the lower zone shows Herakles performing his final Labour, receiving the golden apples of the Hesperides from the nymphs responsible for guarding the tree in a garden at the end of the earth.
Both scenes are remarkable for their peaceful treatment of violent subjects. Other versions of the story of the daughters of Leukippos show the daughters struggling to free themselves. Here, they seem more concerned with displaying their beautiful clothing in the most elegant way possible. Similarly, earlier illustrations of Herakles's final Labour show him fighting a terrible serpent. Here the nymphs seem perfectly happy to surrender their apples, while the serpent coils limply and unthreateningly round the tree. This softened mood, along with the delicate treatment of the drapery, is very characteristic of late fifth-century Athenian vase painting.
Odysseus meets Elpenor in the Underworld, Attic red-figure pelike, painted by the Lykaon Painter, third quarter of the 5th century BC, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
On the opposite side of the vase, Poseidon, the god of the seas and enemy of Odysseus, pursues Amymone, one of the fifty daughters of King Danaus and Europa. Poseidon carries the fisherman’s spear that often identifies him in art. Her kingdom having no water, Amymone went in search of it. In the scene represented here, she carries a water jug. Poseidon fell in love with Amymone and rewarded her for her affection by creating the spring of Lerna. The result of their affair was Nauplius, a great sailor. The woman behind Poseidon is perhaps one of the many sisters of Amymone.
Homer tells us in the Odyssey about Odysseus’ journey to the underworld to learn how to return to his homeland of Ithaca. While in Hades, Odysseus meets Elpenor, the youngest member of his crew. Elpenor had died on the island of the witch Circe; half-drunk and half-asleep, he fell from the roof of Circe’s house. The scene of their reunion in the Underworld is pictured on this pelike. Having not received the proper funeral rites on Circe’s island, Elpenor persuades Odysseus to give him a proper burial. Odysseus has sacrificed the two rams that lie at his feet to honor Elpenor and to keep the other spirits in Hades from tormenting him. Hermes stands behind Odysseus in his typical winged helmet and boots and with his caduceus. Although the messenger god does not appear in Homer’s telling of the story, it is appropriate for him to be a part of this scene as he often acted as a guide to the souls in Hades. The painter shows Odysseus deeply concentrating on the words of the dead sailor while Elpenor speaks. The mysterious scene of Hades depicted here was once highlighted in white pigment to draw out the details of the rocky landscape of the underworld.
'Some details of the picture, hard to see in photographs or even on the vase itself, appear more clearly in the drawing in which the doubly curved surface of the pelike has been flattened into a plane. Such are the lines in thinned paint indicating the inner markings on the bodies, the fleece of the sheep, the shading on the hat of Odysseus, and the like. The inscriptions giving the names of the three figures, the contours of the rocky landscape, the reeds behind Elpenor, the pit with the blood of the sheep dripping into it were added in the form of a thick yellowish-white pigment applied on the black ground. Except for one small fragment these details have flaked off; but it is still possible to make them out, since the surface they covered lacks its characteristic lustre. This indication of scenery, though sketchy, is unusually elaborate, and interesting besides as showing how closely the artist followed Homer. The tall reeds with their tops waving in the wind suggest the proximity of the rivers. And the rock at their confluence is represented by the undulating line extending to the upper border of the picture. Elpenor, whose legs from the knees down are hidden in a depression of the ground, leans his body and raised left arm against this rock, the hand grasping a projection from it, while his right hand, planted on another rock, gives him the additional support he needs. Like Agamemnon, who appears later in the story, "no longer had he substance to stand firm or the vigorously free movements such as once filled his supple limbs". Odysseus sits quietly in an attitude more familiar in Greek vase painting, his head propped on his hand, gazing sorrowfully into the staring eyes of his comrade. He is in the prime of life and strength; his muscular arm with the hand firmly gripping his sword helps to differentiate him from the ghost opposite. Both figures are well drawn in complicated poses; the rendering of Elpenor's head in three-quarter view — a problem which vase painters of this time still found difficult — is fairly successful. Hermes, in comparison with the other two, seems like a lay figure. Yet the attitude of his right hand and his intense gaze add somewhat to the pathos of the scene.'
(From L. D. Caskey, J. D. Beazley,
Attic Vase Paintings in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston