- Museum number
Pottery: red-figured pelike.
(a) Libation to Zeus (?). In the centre is a blazing altar, with Ionic capital, necking decorated with a row of trefoils, resting on a plinth, on the shaft a splash of blood (?); on the left stands Zeus (?), a bearded, long-haired figure in an himation, wreathed with laurel and holding upright in his left hand a sceptre with palmette top; with his right hand he pours wine from a phiale with dotted lip upon the altar. He looks at a woman on the right, who also pours wine on the altar from an oinochoe in her right hand. She wears a taenia around her long hair, earrings, an Ionic chiton, and a bordered himation; her hair over the forehead is arranged in rows of curls, indicated by dots.
(b) Eos pursuing Tithonos. On the right, Eos, in a long chiton with apoptygma, of which she raises the skirt with her left hand, flies to the left, her feet just touching the ground, and extends her right hand to seize Tithonos, a boyish figure in an himation and fillet, who flees with long strides, looking back, and holding in his left hand a chelys of five strings.
Large style, but drawing somewhat stiff and occasionally rough. Purple wine and flames. Brown edge of hair and beard, and splash on altar. Eye in transition. The long hair is painted in black silhouette, with the ends as a mass of wavy tresses. Below, a continuous band, pairs of maeanders separated by red cross squares (diagonal); above a, a strip of coupled palmettes, horizontal; above b, a strip of laurel wreath; around the lower insertion of each handle, a strip of tongue pattern; below, an inverted palmette from which a long tendril spreads on either side.
- Production date
- 460BC-450BC (circa)
Diameter: 27 centimetres
Height: 35.50 centimetres
- Curator's comments
BM Cat. Vases
D'Hancarville, i, pl. 122; iv, pl. 61; Él. Cér. i, pl. 21, gives a, p. 39; Overbeck, Kunstmyth. (Zeus), p. 182, no. G G.
Jenkins & Sloan 1996
This is the vase featured in the dedication plate of the first volume of AEGR (cat. no. 28). It was one of those purchased by Hamilton from the Mastrilli collection. No doubt the sacrificial scene was selected for the dedication plate as a compliment to the royal dedicatee. Probably because of its prominence in AEGR, the vase - or at least the figures upon it - was one of those chosen for reproduction by the Wedgwood pottery.
D'Hancarville had definite views about the identity of the male figure. This he thought perfectly resembled Plato. He probably had no good evidence, pictorial or literary, for this suggestion and subsequently changed his interpretation of the scene to 'a priest and priestess of Bacchus making a libation at an altar'. The priest, he now thought, bore a resemblance to Bacchus himself, but Bacchus with the features of Pisistratus, the tyrant of Athens who died in 527 BC. The vase was therefore made during the reign of Pisistratus. The idea of Bacchus resembling the Athenian tyrant may be traced to a brief reference in Athenaeus' Table Talk, where the ancient author records a tradition that Pisistratus' likeness was used for one (or more) images of the god Dionysus (Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae, XII, 533c). This argument demonstrates what a hit-or-miss affair was d'Hancarville's dating of vases. His former identification of the male figure as Plato would put the manufacture of the vase into the fourth century BC or later, while his second attempt dated it some two hundred years earlier.
LITERATURE: D'Hancarville, AEGR, I, pl. 122, commentary in 11, p. 166; the scene on the reverse of the vase, showing Eos and Tithonos, was published in iv, pl. 61; Lyons, p. 17 and fig. 26; Beazley, ARV2 603, 45. For Wedgwood reproductions of the vase see Ramage, 1989b.
- On display (G1/wp13)
- Acquisition date
- Greek and Roman
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: 1772,0320.23.*