High-handled cup (kantharos) depicting Zeus in pursuit

Greek
Late Archaic Period
about 490–480 B.C.
the Brygos Painter


Place of Manufacture: Greece, Attica, Athens

Catalogue Raisonné

Caskey-Beazley, Attic Vase Paintings (MFA), no. 017.

Dimensions

Height: 24.7 cm (9 3/4 in.); diameter: 11.5 cm (4 1/2 in.)

Accession Number

95.36

Medium or Technique

Ceramic, Red Figure

On View

Greek Archaic Gallery (Gallery 113)

Collections

The Ancient World

Classifications

Vessels

Kantharos ( high handled wine cup):

Side A: Zeus pursues a young boy, probably Ganymede. Zeus is identified by his scepter, and he wears high traveling boots and a cloak (himation). The boy carries a hoop and stick, and runs to the right. In his haste to get away, his cloak is beginning to fall off.

Side B: Zeus pursues a woman, whose identification is disputed. They seem to be running away from a sanctuary, complete with an altar and palm tree. The woman pulls up her skirt to facilitate her get-away, and reaches back in a gesture of supplication. There are two examples in which a woman Zeus pursues is labeled “Aigina”, so that may also be the case here. However, Zeus’ mythological affairs were numerous, so there are many women to choose from. Martin Robertson suggests that perhaps the woman in this scene is Semele, who became the mother of the god Dionysus as a result of the union. The place where Semele died was immediately made into a sanctuary. There is a connection to Dionysus: his favored cup shape is the kantharos, like this very cup.

Condition: Part of the head of the woman, and a part of her drapery missing.

Provenance

By date unknown: with Edward Perry Warren (according to Warren's records: May 1893. Said to have been found at Thebes in Boeotia); 1895: purchased by MFA from Edward Perry Warren for $ 29,857.37 (this figure is the total price for MFA 95.9-95.174)

Credit Line

Catharine Page Perkins Fund