TRADITIONAL SHAPE IS AN UNBROKEN CURVE, FROM NECK TO FOOT – THIS IS A NEW SHAPE
Ajax was angry and hurt, and decided to attack the Greek leaders at night, but Athena drove him mad so that he slaughtered the Greeks’ cattle by mistake. When he woke up, Ajax discovered his error and killed himself. Athena did this because Ajax had once turned down her help in battle. Some stories said that, when odysseus was shipwrecked, the arms of achilles were washed up on the shore close to the tomb of Ajax – as if in some act of divine justice.
The shoulder guard protects the spear-throwing shoulder
Some stories say that Zeus’ children were even born from an egg.
Helen = Helen married Menelaus, was given to Paris, and caused the Trojan war Polydeuces = Pollux
Idas cut up a cow into 4, and said that whoever finished eating 1 st could take half the cows, and whoever finished 2 nd could take the other half. Idas finished 1 st and then helped his bro finish his, before talking all the cows away with them. Castor and Polydeuces followed them and stole the cattle.
Aryballos was a container for oil, used for cleansing and annointing by athletes – doesn’t seem like it has any relevance to the scene.
Chlamys = short cloak, himation = long cloak
Exekias Belly Jse
First, an experiment: <ul><li>Look at the scene on the next slide. </li></ul><ul><li>Which figure is your eye drawn towards first? </li></ul>
Exekias Belly Amphora White text: p.27-29 Black text: p.17-21
The Exekias Belly Amphora <ul><li>Exekias is widely regarded as the best exponent of the black-figure technique. He was sensitive to the shape and design of the vase, and adapted his compositions to suit the particular vase. </li></ul><ul><li>He continues the “Grand Style”, painting in large friezes, rather than several miniature friezes. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Unlike the Lydos Column Krater, Exekias’ vase has two friezes on opposite sides, rather than one continuous panel running all the way around the vase. </li></ul><ul><li>His vases are distinguished by the quality of the painting, which lends his figures elegance. His vases have been described as “statuesque”! </li></ul>
<ul><li>Shape: Belly Amphora </li></ul><ul><li>Function: Storage of wine, oil or honey </li></ul><ul><li>Painter: Exekias </li></ul><ul><li>Potter: Exekias </li></ul><ul><li>Technique: black figure </li></ul><ul><li>Date: c.540-530 B.C </li></ul>Current Location: The Vatican Museum, Rome
Shape Exekias potted his own vases, so each one was shaped in order to complement the design he intended for it. This vase differs from the traditional Amphora shape in the following ways: The shoulder of the vase is much broader and squarer – in fact the shoulder is the widest part of the body of the vase – much wider than the belly
Inscriptions <ul><li>There are several inscriptions on the vase. </li></ul><ul><li>The most significant is on the rim: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Exekias painted and made me” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Also signed behind Achilles </li></ul></ul>
<ul><li>All figures on are identified, and Exekias even records the score in the game between Achilles and Ajax </li></ul>Achilles Four Ajax Three
Behind Ajax there is a kalos inscription: “ Onetorides is beautiful”
<ul><li>Graceful flare of the handles is emphasised by a chain of ivy leaves. </li></ul>Decoration: Overview An elaborate double lotus and palmette borders the girth of the belly. Exekias is unmatched in his skill in painting and composition.
Subject of the decoration <ul><li>Again, the story of Homer’s Iliad is the inspiration for the vase. </li></ul><ul><li>The vase depicts a scene from a lost poem about the Trojan war. </li></ul>
Side A Achilles and Ajax <ul><li>The Myth </li></ul><ul><li>This is a scene from a lost poem about the Trojan War. Achilles and Ajax were so involved in playing a board game that they did not hear the enemy approaching and were still playing when the Trojans attacked the camp. </li></ul><ul><li>Achilles is the legendary warrior son of Peleus and Thetis. </li></ul><ul><li>Ajax, son of Telamon and Periboea, was second only to Achilles among the Greek warriors. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Ajax wounded Hector in single combat, was chosen to beg Achilles to fight again when he had refused, rescued the wounded Odysseus, won the wrestling competition at the funeral games of Patroclus, and saved Achilles’ armour before carrying his dead body back to camp. </li></ul><ul><li>When it came to deciding who should have the honour of wearing Achilles’ armour, the Greeks could not decide between Ajax and Odysseus. Priam’s son Helenus (who had been captured) had to make the decision, and he chose Odysseus. </li></ul>
This is the psychological moment: the viewer knows what is about to happen! The heroes are sitting on boxes, dressed in full armour, with the rest of their battle gear close at hand. Either the game is so engrossing that they are literally on the edge of their seats with excitement, or this is a very temporary scene. Perhaps they sat down just for a quick game? Either way, the effect is the same.
Achilles is the larger, dominant figure. He wears a Corinthian helmet with a horsehair crest. Note the depiction of the figures themselves: Ajax is bare-headed (his helmet is hanging from his shield behind him)
Exekias is careful to include detail of the heroes’ weapons and armour A shoulder guard decorated with a panther’s head <ul><li>The heroes even wear their </li></ul><ul><li>leather corselets </li></ul><ul><li>thigh guards </li></ul><ul><li>greaves </li></ul>They are even clutching two spears each!
Exekias gives the heroes Boeotian shields – common in archaic art. Achilles’ shield is particularly detailed – it shows a satyr’s head in high relief. Ajax’s shield shows a similar scene, but his shield shows a Gorgon’s head without the relief. See p. 18 in Black text for clearer pictures
Composition BALANCED SYMMETRICAL Scene is framed by the borders above and below The central figures form a triangle, with Achilles’ horse hair at the apex. The bodies and arms of the heroes form another triangle
The figures are composed in an “inverted W” shape
The line of the spears continue to line up with the handles, and the line of the shields also follow the line of the handles
The curved backs of the heroes follows the line of the vase – shows how Exekias decorated his vase in sympathy with its form
Decorative technique <ul><li>The quality of the decoration is extremely high, compared with other black-figure vases </li></ul>
Realism Detail on the horse’s hair plume on the helmet, also on Achilles’ beard Exekias added white slip on Achilles’ corselet and greaves, and purple on the shield Cloak shows incredible detail, all incised through the black, with white and purple added to the stars, spirals and flowers on the cloak. The leather corselet bulges underneath the cloak. Extra glaze used to show Achilles’ curls p.19 (Black) to show detail
Limitations to Exekias’ Realism Exekias’ eyes are all shown in frontal aspect Muscles are shown, but there is no attempt to make them look realistic Achilles’ cloak is flat and two dimensional, but Exekias is trying to show the folds in the drapery
Side B The Return of Castor and Polydeuces <ul><li>The Myth </li></ul><ul><li>Zeus fell in love with Queen Leda, wife of King Tyndareus of Sparta. He knew she loved the white swans of the River Eurotas, and so he disguised himself as a swan to seduce her. </li></ul><ul><li>Leda was either already pregnant to Tyndareus, or fell pregnant soon after, and produced two sets of twins. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Zeus fathered Polydeuces and Helen (semi-divine twins), while Tyndareus fathered the mortal Clytemnestra and Castor. </li></ul><ul><li>Polydeuces excelled at boxing. Castor became a great warrior and horseman, and even taught Heracles to fence. Castor and Polydeuces were inseparable friends, and accomplished all of their exploits together. They were called “Dioscuri” – sons of Zeus – though only Polydeuces was actually fathered by Zeus. </li></ul>
<ul><li>They featured in several stories, and were on the Kalydonian Boar Hunt, joined the crew of the Argo on Jason’s quest for the Golden Fleece, and rescued their sister Helen from Theseus. </li></ul><ul><li>They had a quarrel with their cousins and rivals, Idas and Lynceus, over the spoils from a cattle raid. Idas killed Castor, and Polydeuces killed Lynceus. As Polydeuces was fighting Idas, Zeus came to his aid and killed Idas with a thunderbolt. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Zeus took Polydeuces into the company of the Gods, but he refused to go to Olympus without his mortal brother, Castor. </li></ul><ul><li>Zeus was so touched that he allowed Castor and Polydeuces to spend alternate days in the Underworld and on Olympus, and in addition placed their images in the heavens as Gemini, the Twins. </li></ul>
Exekias creates a homely scene to illustrate the reunion of the family – even when family members are mythical heroes Polydeuces Note he is bending down to greet the family dog, which jumps ecitedly Queen Leda, hand outstretched, greets Castor with a flower King Tandareus stands, hand outstretched to pat Castor’s horse A slave boy is also present. He carries a stool on his head, with a set of clothes for the brothers, and holds an aryballos Castor holds his horse with one hand, a spear with the other, and turns his head towards his mother
Exekias is again trying to make his decoration more realistic. He paints Castor behind his horse – trying to create the impression of depth. Typically for the period, Exekias paints Castor mainly in profile – only his head turns behind to greet his mother. This is a rigid, unrealistic pose.
Drapery and Realism Castor wears a chlamys, which Exekias has coloured with red slip. Queen Leda wears a peplos, which is flat and foldless Polydeuces is naked Tyndareus wears an himation Exekias has used incisions through the black slip to show the folds in the cloth of these cloaks – an attempt to show realism Exekias has incised through the black to show detail on the horse’s mane
Limitations to Realism All the figures stand on the same groundline However, Exekias has placed Castor and the dog behind other figures to provide depth.
Composition of Side B Scene framed above and below Placing the horse in the centre, and the figures either side provides symmetry in the scene.
Composition of Side B There are THREE focal points. This creates the sense of depth and movement. 1 2 3