- Museum number
Pottery: red-figured bell krater (bowl for mixing wine and water).
Designs red and white on black ground, with yellow accessories. Round the lip and ends of the handles, egg-moulding; above the designs, laurel-wreath; below, maeander and chequer; below the handles, palmettes.
(a) Initiation of Heracles and the Dioscuri into the lesser mysteries at Agrae (or Eleusis): In the centre is Persephone standing half-turned to right, with long hair, beaded ampyx, earrings, necklace, bracelets, transparent white chiton with looped-up sleeves, himation held up in left hand, sandals, and torch in right hand; at her feet is Demeter seated to left, looking back at her. Demeter has long hair, beaded ampyx, earrings, necklace, bracelets, long chiton with diploidion, and sceptre in right hand; below her are a footstool and two uncertain objects of
oblong shape; the flesh of both figures is painted white, with ornaments and features in yellow. Persephone looks back at Triptolemos, who is seated to left looking up at her, in his winged carriage drawn by two white serpents; he is beardless, with long curls, laurel-wreath, and himation over left shoulder. Above him is Eumolpos, acting as μυσταγωγός; he moves to left, looking back, and is beardless, with long curls, fillet and laurel-wreath, girt chiton reaching to the knee with embroidered band on bosom, endromides, and torch in right hand; he leads up one of the Dioscuri, who is beardless, with wreath, chlamys over shoulders, and a large torch painted white in right hand; in front of his head is a star of nine points. On the left Iachos approaches, beardless, with fillet and laurel-wreath, chiton as Eumolpos, beaded girdle, chlamys over right arm, endromides, torch in right hand, left extended; he is followed by Heracles, and, on a higher level, the other of the Dioscuri. Heracles looks back, and is beardless, with short curly hair, wreath, chlamys over shoulders, torch in right hand and club in left; the Dioscuros is beardless, with wreath, himation over left shoulder, and torch in right hand. Behind, over an uneven line indicating a hill, appear six Doric columns, over four of which is a white architrave, possibly representing the temple of Demeter at Agrae.
(b) Dionysiac group: In the centre is a couch covered with a panther's skin, on which recline the youthful Dionysos and Pluto, each resting left arm on an embroidered pillow. Dionysos has long curls, fillet with cross-band round the back of the head, ivy-wreath, drapery over lower limbs, and thyrsos in right hand; he turns to look at Pluto, who looks back at him; he has short curly hair with laurel-wreath, drapery over lower limbs, and in both hands a large rhyton, painted white, with egg-moulding round the top and a row of fruits above. On the left stands a Maenad to right, above the ground-level, with flesh painted white, hair drawn back and tied round with a string, ivy-wreath, radiated ampyx, earrings, necklace, bracelets, long chiton and bordered himation falling in pteryges, hands extended, in left a dish of fruit. On a lower level is a Satyr to right with ivy-wreath and fawn-skin over left arm, carrying a dish of fruit from which hang white strings, and behind him above is a female figure seated to left, looking round to right, with radiated ampyx, hair tied in a knot behind, bracelets, and long girt chiton drawn forward in left hand, in right a dish of fruit. On the right a Satyr with ivy-wreath, and torch in right hand, leads up Hephaestos in a drunken condition; he is bearded, with fillet, ivy-wreath, chlamys over arms, axe in left hand, right arm resting on the Satyr's shoulder. Below the couch is Eros to right, nude, with beaded fillet and flesh painted white, holding a spring, the end of which is held in the beak of a swan with which he is playing; behind him is an ivy-branch; in the field, flowers, and above the scene, a vine with grapes.
- Production date
- 380BC-360BC (circa)
Diameter: 50.70 centimetres
Height: 51.40 centimetres
Weight: 6 kilograms
- Curator's comments
- BM Cat. Vases
Panofka, Cab. Pourtales, pls. 16, 17; El. Cer. iii., pl. 63 A; Gerhard, Gesammelte Abhandl. pl. 71; Muller-Wieseler, Denkm. d. a. Kunst. ii., pl. 10, 112; Overbeck, Kunstmythol. (Demeter), pp. 518, 669 ff., and Atlas, pl. xviii. 19; Baumeister, p. 475; Harrison and Verrall, p. 155; Duruy, Hist. of Greece, ii. p. 368; Strube, Eleus. Bilderkreis, pp. 24, 46; Trans. Roy. Soc. Lit. Ser. 2, iv. p. 266; Roscher, i. p. 2185 (art. Heracles); P. Gardner, New Chapters in Greek History, p. 400.
For the subject of side a, cf. Gerhard, Gesammelte Abhandl. pl. 77; Xen. Hell. vi. 3, 6; Apollod. ii. 5, 12; Diod. Sic. iv. 25; C. I. Gr. 434; and Stephan. Byz. s. v. "Αγραι. Furtwaengler (Roscher, l. c.) regards this ceremony as taking place at Eleusis, not Agrae. The torches carried by the Dioscuri and Heracles are of a peculiar shape, resembling fasces, with projecting knobs; they are probably made of palm-branches bound together, and were known as Βάκχοι. Cf. Baumeister, p. 476, and Brit. Mus. Cat. Coins of Attica, p. 23 note; also Strube, l.c. p. 56, Heydemann, Mitth. Ober- u. Mittelital. p. 89, note 230, and Schol. in Ar. Eg. 408. A representation of this kind of torch also appears on the frieze of the temple at Eleusis, Uned. Antiqs. of Attica, ch. 4, pl. 7.
On the connection between scene b and that on the obverse, see Roscher, i. p. 2186; Dionysos would naturally be connected with the lesser mysteries.
- On display (G20/dc5)
- Acquisition date
- Greek and Roman
- Registration number