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White text: p.17-24
Black text: p.5-8
The François Vase
• Named after the man who found it,
Alessandro François.
• Found amongst fragments around a tomb
outside the Etruscan town of Chiusi in
• On display in Florence since 1900
The symposium
conventionally interpreted as a drinking party, was a
well-established feature of Greek, particularly Athenian,
society. For over a century, representations on vases
document that wine, women, and song were central
ingredients. Even more worthy of emphasis, however, is
the importance of the symposium as an institution that
permitted citizens to gather, transact business, and, as
Plato's dialogue makes clear, to engage in serious
discussions. An essential piece of equipment for the
symposium was the krater in which the wine was diluted
with water and from which it was served.
Current Location: Museo
Archeologico, Florence
Shape: volute krater
Function: mixing
bowl for wine and
Painter: Kleitias
Potter: Ergotimos
Technique: Blackfigure
Date: 570 BC
Diameter of mouth: 57cm
Height: 66cm
• Signatures are painted twice each for the
painter and the potter:
– “Ergotimos made me”
– “Kleitias painted me”
• The signatures both appear on the central
and upper friezes
• 121 of the 270 animal and human figures
are named – telling a story is crucial to the
artist’s purpose
Decoration: Overview
• The shape and decoration of this vase were
revolutionary for the time
• Painted decoration is inspired by the Corinthian
minitiarist style popular during the Orientalising
period, but there is a crucial difference: previous
(Corinthian) vases were usually either made up of
animal friezes or had geometric pattern decoration.
Although this one contains some orientalising
influence (mythological animals such as griffins and
sphinxes as well as exotic vegetable motifs like the
lotus and palmette) it is a narrative vase.
• This vase also represents a development in that the
central frieze encircles the vase.
• Vase is divided into six friezes or bands, each
showing different scenes, linked together by “The
Iliad” and Achilles.
Subject of the
The artist obviously had a
thorough knowledge of
myth and literature.
Much of the decoration is
linked with Homer’s “The
The majority of scenes
celebrate the deeds of
Achilles and his father
Ajax carries Achilles
Kleitias’ decoration is
always meaningful – he
does not fill up space with
spectators or “extras”.
Conventions of the Black Figure technique
Before firing:
• Figures filled in with black
• Colour is added, including
– white for female flesh,
– white for a dog on the back
of the Kalydonian boar
– purple-red for some drapery
– red on some men's faces.
• Incisions made through
the black for hair, some
internal details of anatomy
and ornate patterns on
some clothing.
small-scale, silhouette figures, but
plenty of incised detail.
pose often has profile head (but
with frontal eye); frontal torso and
profile legs and feet
incision of anatomical detail is
delicate and precise, showing an
accurate knowledge of major
muscle groups.
attempts to suggest texture with
smooth human hair and the spiky
bristles of the boar.
attempts to show movement: one
foot in front of the other; raised
and outstretched legs suggest
running; joined hands for dancers.
emotion suggested by gestures
such as raised hands.
movement and gesture lively and
active in most scenes; restrained
and dignified in the wedding
BUT, drapery is stiff and ignores
the lines of the bodies beneath
the friezes
Side A
The Neck
Above: The hunt for the Kalydonian Boar
Below: Achilles’ chariot race
The First Frieze: The Hunt for the
Kalydonian Boar
The Myth:
Meleager’s mother was told by the fates that
he would only live until a branch which,
which was burning on the fire at that
moment, burnt away. She took it off the
fire and hid it. Meleager grew up to be a
fearless fighter.
When Meleager’s father, the King of
Kalydon, forgot to sacrifice to Artemis, she
sent down a huge boar to ravage the land.
Meleager gathered a band of hunters to kill
the boar. Many heroes joined in, including
Atalanta. Most of the men objected to
hunting alongside her, but she was a
deadly hunter, and in any case, Meleager
was in love with her, so he insisted.
Atalanta was the daughter of Iasus and
Clymene. Since Iasus only wanted sons,
she was left at birth on a mountainside,
where she was suckled by a she-bear.
Under the protection of Artemis she grew up
to become a swift and deadly hunter, as
well as a resolute virgin.
Each hunter was so keen to have the glory
of killing the Kalydonian boar that they
failed to work as a team and several men
were killed.
Atalanta drew first blood, and Meleager
killed the boar. At once, he skinned the
boar and presented the hide to Atalanta in
This offended two of Meleager’s uncles, who
felt they should have been given the skin.
Meleager killed them both on the spot.
His mother was angry at the news of her
brothers’ deaths, so she threw the fatal
branch on the fire, thus killing Meleager.
First Frieze – The hunt for the Kalydonian Boar
Melanion, beside
Atalanta, who is about
to throw the decisive
Other hunters
A dog preparing to
Peleus, beside
Meleager, who is
about to kill the boar
The Kalydonian
The boar has
killed a dog and
Ankaios, one of
the hunters
A white dog,
now mostly
worn off, has
leapt onto the
boar’s back
More hunters and a
dog drive the boar
towards Meleager
and Peleus
More hunters, and a Scythian archer chase the boar across the frieze.
One of the archers has a particularly ornate tunic
The Second Frieze: Achilles’
Chariot Race
The Myth:
Achilles fought for King Agamemnon against the
Trojans at Troy. He fell out with Agamemnon
over a girl, and refused to fight.
The Trojans were much heartened by the news,
and the battle turned against Agamemnon. The
Greeks were saved, however, when Patroclus,
Achilles’ special friend, dressed in Achilles’
armour and led the Greeks into battle again.
He met Hector in battle, and the Trojan prince,
believing he was fighting Achilles himself, killed
Patroclus. The news of Patroclus’ death sent
Achilles into a state of anger and grief bordering
on insanity.
He set out for revenge. Hector tried to tire him out
by running around the walls of Troy, but Achilles,
having cornered Hector, killed him. He then tied
Hector’s corpse behind his chariot and dragged
the body around Patroclus’ funerary monument
every day for twelve days.
Achilles held magnificent funeral games in honour
of Patroclus, a part of which was a chariot race.
A Dinos
A Tripod
(a handleless
bowl used for
mixing wine
and water)
(a bowl sitting
on three legs)
The gaps between the horses’ legs are
filled by the prizes given for the winners
of the race.
All the
chariots race
in the same
around the
vase – the
direction to
the boar
Under the handles of the vase, on
both sides, is this scene of the dead
Achilles being carried by Ajax.
The myth tells of how, when
Achilles was killed by Paris’ arrow,
Ajax rescued his armour and
carried his body back to camp,
while Odysseus warded off
Compositional stability: the horizontal and vertical
straight lines of Ajax contrasts with the diagonal lines
formed by Achilles’ body. Also the eyes contrast.
Side A
The body of the Vase
3. The wedding of Thetis and Peleus
4. Achilles pusues Troilus
5. Oriental animal frieze
The Third Frieze: The Wedding of
Thetis and Peleus
The Myth:
Silver-fotted Thetis, the immortal seagoddess, was kindly and beautiful. Zeus
and Poseidon both wanted to marry
Thetis, but they heard a prophecy.
The son of Thetis would be greater than his
Fearing that they might be overthrown, both
gods decided against the union, and Zeus
arranged a marriage to a mortal – Peleus.
Peleus had led a dangerous and varied life,
and had been one of the Argonauts.
All the gods came to celebrate the marriage.
They lived together for a while, during
which time, Thetis gave birth to Achilles,
the greatest hero of the Trojan war.
This is the most significant myth of all those depicted on this vase.
The names of all the
wedding guests are
inscribed next to them
– see p.7 in Black text
A comic Dionysos runs ahead of Zeus and Hera
in the first chariot – he is carrying a wine jug
over his shoulder
The Fourth Frieze: Achilles pursues
The Myth:
Troilus was the youngest son of King Priam,
the King of Troy. (According to some he
was the son of Apollo.)
A prophecy said that if Troilus was alive on
his 20th birthday, Troy would not fall.
Achilles waited for Troilus by the fountain house
outside the city walls. Troilus and Polyxena, his
sister brought a hydria to collect water from the
fountain, but as it filled, Troilus saw Achilles and
fled on horseback toward the sanctuary of
Achilles caught him inside the sanctuary and killed
him on the altar.
Apollo never forgave Achilles. Some accounts say
he shot the fatal arrow, while others say he
guided Paris’ arrow.
This event is called the Cypria, and was the earliest in Trojan War.
Apollo stands to
the left of the
fountain-house, his
stance and gesture
suggesting danger
and urgency
A youth places
his hydria
beneath one of
the water spouts
On the other side a girl waits
for her hydria to fill, but she
has caught sight of the
impending tragedy behind
her and throws up her arms
in horror
Three gods (l-r, Thetis,
Hermes and Athena) are
unseen by mortals, but exert
a divine influence over the
The quality of
Kleitias’ work
is shown by
the detail in
Troilus’ pose
Meanwhile, in the central
image of the frieze,
Troilus flees on
horseback, pursued by
the leaping “swift-footed
runs ahead of
her brother,
dropped the
Antenor brings the
bad news to King
Priam, shown
sitting outside the
walls of Troy with
only a staff to
support him in his
old age and sorrow
Two warriors, Troilos‘
brothers Hector and
Polites, emerge from
the gates on their way
to rescue their brother
or avenge his death.
The Fifth Frieze: Orientalisinginspired Animals
A lion fells a bull
A lion fells a stag
A pair of griffins
sitting either
side of a Lotus
and palmette
Side B
The Neck
Above: Dance of the Athenian Youths
Below: The Centauromarchy
The First Frieze: The Geranos
The Myth:
Whilst travelling, Aegeus, King of Athens,
spent a night at Troezen, in the house of
the king. That night he slept with Princess
Aithra, and in the morning, as he left, he
hid his sandals and sword under a heavy
Aegeus told Aithra that if she bore a son he
would only acknowledge him when he
could lift the rock and claim the sword and
When Theseus was sixteen, he did just that,
before setting off for Athens to meet his
He was desperate to make a good
impression, so along the way he
completed some dangerous and
impressive tasks.
Theseus arrived in Athens wearing the
sword and sandals. Medea, Aegeus's wife,
attempted to poison Theseus, but as soon
as Aegeus recognized the heirlooms, he
proclaimed Theseus his son and heir and
banished Medea.
Theseus killed a few relatives who wearing
making life hard for his father, and killed a
wild bull on the plain of Marathon.
He then began his most famous deed.
Athens had to pay a tribute each year of
seven young women and seven young
men to King Minos of Crete, as payment
for the death of Minos’ son Androgeos.
These sacrifices were fed to a monster
called the Minotaur. Theseus volunteered
to be one of the fourteen, and, having
arranged a signal to show his success with
his father, set off for Crete.
He was helped by Ariadne, daughter of King
Minos, who gave him a dagger and a ball
of wool.
Theseus killed the Minotaur and found his way out
of the maze, whereupon he met Ariadne and the
other 13 Athenians, and together they fled back
to Athens.
Theseus forgot the signal he had arranged with his
father, however, and sailed back to Athens under
black sails.
Aegeus was watching for the ship by the coast,
and when he saw the ship approaching, in his
grief he threw himself into the sea. The sea has
been called Aegean Sea ever since, and
Theseus became King of Athens.
The Myth
The Geranos, or victory dance occurred after Theseus had rescued the fourteen
Athenian youths and maidens from the minotaur.
The Vase
In the victory dance on the vase, the youths and maidens can be seen holding
hands and miming their hurried exit from the labyrinth, to the sound of Theseus’
lyre. Theseus leads the Geranos.
The women wear the peplos, the men the himation (cloak)
The Second Frieze – The
The Myth
The Centaurs were half-human, half-horse creatures, who ate
raw meat and lived a wild, unbridled life in the caves of Mount
A dispute arose between them and King Peirithous who ruled the
Kingdom of the Lapiths. The Centaurs were invited to the
wedding of King Peirithous, but the Centaurs disgraced
themselves by getting drunk and trying to make off the with
bride and the women at the wedding.
The King Peirithous, Theseus and the Lapiths pursued them,
and in the ensuing battle, many Centaurs were killed. The
Centaurs were then banished to live in the forests of
Kaineus a leader of the Lapiths, has
Next to them another centaur
fallen to the ground under a hail of
and a Lapith duel, branch
blows from the centaur Hylaios, who
against javelin
belabours him with a branch while two
other centaurs bring large rocks to deal
A centaur rears above a
the fatal blow.
fallen comrade to hurl a
rock at (possibly)
Kaineus died but the Lapiths won the battle
The third
frieze runs
around the
The Fourth Frieze – The Return of
The Myth
Hephaistos was the son of Zeus and Hera, and was born
lame. Some stories say that Hera was angry when her
son was born disabled, and threw him down from Mount
Olympus into the sea. Others say that he was hurled out
of heaven by his mother Hera for intefering in an argument
between her and Zeus.
Hephaistos then designed a beautiful, golden throne that
which Hera could not resist. However, when she sat on it,
invisible chains clasped her and kept her bound.
Zeus offered the hand of Aphrodite in order to get Hephaistos
to release her. Initially he refused to free his mother, but
eventually Dionysus got him drunk and then led the lame
God back to Olympus.
Dionysos is
leading the mule
Hephaistos is drunk
The mule and the
satyrs are shown
sexually aroused
They are
accompanied by
satyrs and
The Foot Frieze – The Battle
between Pygmies and Cranes
See p. 23 in White text
p. 8 in Black text
• Achilles
Peleus on Lip Side A
Patroclus on Neck Side A
Marriage of Thetis and Peleus on Shoulder
Troilus on Belly Side A
Ajax on handles
• Artemis
» Kalydonian Boar on Lip Side A
» Thetis and Peleus’ Marriage on Shoulder
» Surrounded by animals on handles
• Theseus
» Kalydonian Boar on Lip Side A
» Leader of the dance on Lip Side B
» Friend of Peirithous on Neck Side B
Overall Themes:
• Greek victory over Trojans (in particular),
barbarians and animals
• Gods’ preference for the Greeks