Height: 23.500 cm
GR 1871.7-22.1 (Vases G 17)
Room 20: Greeks and Lycians
Ribbed black-glaze jug (oinochoe)
Greek, about 350-300 BC
Made in Athens, Greece; from Capua in Campania, Italy
Goddess of the cross-roads
The goddess Hekate was closely connected with Artemis, the huntress, but she also had a particular association with the underworld deities, magic and witchcraft. Hekate appeared to magicians and sorceresses with a torch in each hand, or in the form of various animals, including mares, bitches or she-wolves. Her place of worship was at the cross-roads, where statues were erected to her in the form of a woman with three bodies or three heads.
Here the female figure with her whirling drapery, snaking ringlets and ecstatic gaze dances up to the flaming altar with a lighted torch flaring in each hand. The vigour and movement of her pose and drapery contrast with the stiff, three-headed cult statue on the column to the right of the altar. The goddess or priestess is modelled in added clay, and was originally fully gilded. Against the black surface of the vase she stands out as though magically illuminated in the darkness of the night.
D. Williams, Greek vases (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)