- Museum number
Pottery: red-figured cup. INTERIOR: Theseus and the Minotaur. On the left is Theseus dressed in a short, transparent chiton with a red fillet round his head (loop at back), a petasos with red ties over his shoulder and a scabbard at his left hip suspended from a baldric drawn with a triple relief line. His hair is drawn with vertical wavy relief lines over his brow and horizontal wavy relief line contours over his neck; there is a dilute glaze line above and below his eye. With his left hand he restrains the Minotaur's left wrist; in his right hand is a sword with which he thrusts at the creature. The Minotaur is almost down on his right knee; his raised left hand holds a small stone, his right reaches for Theseus' sword arm. He has a bull's head (rippling strokes in dilute glaze on face) and tail and a skin covered with dotted circles. There is a dilute line at both wrists and ankles which marks off the decorated skin from the hands and feet as if it was a leotard. There is a reserved exergue. Border: false maeanders (alternately clockwise and anticlockwise, ten- to twelve-stroke) alternating with blackened cross-squares.
EXTERIOR: the deeds of Theseus.
Side A (lower): sow and Sinis. On the left the wild sow of Krommyon is at bay before Theseus. She is already wounded by Theseus' spear, which passes through her shoulders (the end of the spear is not drawn and one may presume that it has broken off in the beast's charge). She has five teats and the curl of her tail serves double duty for the spiral at the end of the floral decoration under the handle. In the background behind the sow is a woman. She wears a peplos (the dots on it are perhaps intended to indicate the roughness of the fabric) with a black border incised with sigmas and zs, which is fastened at her waist with a belt also decorated with sigmas, and a cloak over her shoulders (two line border). She tears at her hair, which is drawn with separate strands presumably to indicate that it is grey or streaked with grey, with her right hand and stretches out her left towards Theseus in supplication (most of arm missing). Theseus wears a transparent short chiton and has a cloak (line border) wrapped round his left arm in hunting fashion. His left hand (now missing) held the scabbard of the sword that he wields in his right. He is seen in back view so that the tip of his chin is hidden by his left shoulder and has a red hair-band with a loop at the back (relief lines in his hair as on interior).
Towards the right are Sinis, the pine-bender, and Theseus. Sinis is down, his left leg outstretched and frontal, his right bent up sharply under him. His left wrist is pinioned by Theseus, his right vainly grips a stone on the ground. His mouth is open and his teeth bared. His hair is combed upwards over his brow (relief lines). In the background is a tree with red leaves; in it are hung his cloak dine border) and pilos (brim vertical on the left). Theseus, clad in transparent short chiton and a red hair-band and with a petasos with red ties on his shoulders and a sword and scabbard at his left hip (hilt perhaps in the form of a bird's head; red strap), pulls down the branch of a pine tree (scaly bark in dilute glaze) with red leaves in his left hand as he holds Sinis with his right. Theseus' torso and right leg are shown as frontal.
Side Β (upper): Skiron and Kerkyon. On the left Athena moves away to the left, her right arm raised, but turns her head back to the right to look at the scene. She wears a transparent long chiton, a himation with a line border, a scaly aegis with black snake fringe (dilute glaze dot in each scale) and a helmet, and cradles a spear in her left arm. The frontlet of her helmet has a tiny pattern of crossed squares, set alternately up and down; the metal spear head and butt are carefully rendered. Theseus wears a transparent short chiton and a double red hair-band (hair as on interior). He has a petasos with red ties on his shoulder and a sword with a duck's head pommel in its scabbard hung at his left hip from a triple relief line strap. He is attempting to loosen Skiron's grip on the rock by pulling his right leg and the wrist of his right arm that passes round the back of the rock. In the shallow water at the base of the rock waits a turtle. Skiron is drawn with frontal right leg, torso and rather awkward three-quarter face. His teeth are shown; he has relief lines in his hair and two furrows of dilute glaze on his brow. The wavy dilute wash at the base of the rock is no doubt intended to represent the sea. It goes over Skiron's left hand and wrist, thereby suggesting perhaps that they are already under water. The top right of the rock and part of his right arm are missing. Partly obscured, at the bottom left of the rock, is Skiron's podanipter.
On the right Theseus and Kerkyon wrestle. The beardless Theseus bends forward (red hair-band; hair as on interior), his arms locked around Kerkyon's body as he lifts him off the ground. The bearded Kerkyon (hair as interior) similarly has his arms round Theseus, but in vain. His right leg is seen in back view with the sole of the foot showing. Behind Theseus is a tree with red leaves on which he has hung his cloak and sword. The ends of the branches on
the right and the back of Theseus' head, together with the hump of his shoulders, are missing.
At either handle: floral complex with a circumscribed palmette either side of the handles and a large and a small palmette addorsed under the handles; spiral terminals and dots. Ground line: single reserved line.
Relief line contours throughout (double for hair); dilute glaze for minor interior markings; reserved line inside and outside lip; added red for inscriptions.
- Production date
Diameter: 14.60 centimetres (of exterior ground line)
Diameter: 21.50 centimetres
Diameter: 32.90 centimetres
Width: 41 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- CVA British Museum 9
Bibliography: Mus. Étrusque no. 183; De Witte Fabricants 32 no. xviii, 1 and 6; Klein M2 158 no. 16; Hartwig Μ 613-14, 686 no. 25; Murray DGV no. 29; Frucht Duris 14 no. 18 and 49-53; Pottier Douris 53 fig. 11 and p. 75; Hoppin i, 238-9 no. 16; AV 202,40; ΑRV 283, 46; Bloesch FAS 98, no. 13, ARV2 431, 47 and p. 1653;Brommer V3 211 etc.; Wegner Duris 106-16, figs. 23-5; Seki U 74 no. 335, p. 79 with note 172, pl. 48, 3 (underside) and pl. 57, 4 (detail of Phaia); J. Neils, The Youthful Deeds of Theseus (Rome 1987) pl. 9, figs. 43-5; Beazley Add2 236; Carpenter Art and Myth figs. 238-9 (A-B); LIMC vi pl. 62, Krommyo no. 1, and pl. 319, Minotauros no. 23; Buitron-Oliver Douris no. 87.
Signed by Douris as painter. Beazley placed the cup in his middle period (period 3: Hippodaman), Buitron-Oliver in her Middle I. Bloesch attributed the potter work to Python.
For the deeds of Theseus see most recently F. Brommer, Theseus (Darmstadt 1982); Schefold Urkönige 230-51; and Neils op. cit. This is the only Theseid cycle cup decorated by Douris. The combination of the cycle with the death of the Minotaur recurs on a number of roughly contemporary cups (ARV2 413, 25; 192, 107) and is echoed on some much later cups when it usually occurs as the tondo surrounded by a zone. The Minotaur's apparently eye-covered skin, which is reminiscent of Argos and was already noted by Smith (BM Cat Vases iii p. 73), might suggest inspiration from dramatic costume.
Douris repeats the struggle with Skiron on the tondi of two late cups (ARV2 438, 129 and 130). Here the scheme remains basically the same, only the head of Skiron is now drawn fully frontal. Kerkyon is being lifted off the ground in a waist-lock (see Poliakoff Combat Sports 40), which is presumably the manoeuvre that he is said to have invented (Eustathios on Iliad 23, 730) and was used on him in turn by Theseus (cf. ARV2 115, 3; and, probably, 191, 104). Apollodoros (Epitome I, 1) records that the sow of Krommyon was called Phaia after her aged nurse (see now E. Simantoni-Bournia in LIMC V1 139-142). A woman is often seen in representations of the scene, regularly elderly (on Douris' cup the grey or greying hair might allude to the name Phaia which means grey) and wearing a peplos, but on a cup in Madrid painted by Aison (ARV2 1174, 1) she is named Krommyo, perhaps the local nymph (see Brommer Theseus 9-13, but see Simantoni-Bournia loc. cit.). The pilos shown in the branches above Sinis is a regular attribute of Theseus; here, however, one should perhaps think of it as Sinis' since Theseus already has a petasos on his back.
Douris' arrangement of the adventures encountered by Theseus on his way from Troizene does not quite follow the geography reconstructed by Brommer (Theseus 76 fig. 11), but Sinis and the sow should occur before Skiron and Kerkyon, hence the allotment of A and Β here. Athena's presence on the later side of the cup, moving away from the events suggests that she should be thought of as leading Theseus on to Athens, his destination.
For the podanipter in general see Ginouvès Balaneutikè 61-75; in connection with Theseus and Skiron p. 71.
- On display (G69/dc38)
- Made up from fragments; five rim fragments missing and other chips; alien foot removed.
- Acquisition date
- Greek and Roman
- Registration number