Water jar (hydria) with Orpheus attacked by Thracian women
Early Classical Period
about 460 B.C.
the Niobid Painter
Place of Manufacture: Greece, Attica, Athens
Caskey-Beazley, Attic Vase Paintings (MFA), no. 107.
Height: 39 cm (15 3/8 in.); diameter: 32 cm (12 5/8 in.)
Medium or Technique
Ceramic, Red Figure
Greek Classical Gallery (Gallery 215C)
Orpheus put to death by women of Thrace. Orpheus falling, and raising his lyre against a woman who attacks him; she is followed by two other women; and two women are rushing upon him from the right. Near the vertical handle stand Thracian youths, at either end of the composition.
One version of the myth of Orpheus is illustrated on this vase. Orpheus, king of Thrace, was a famous poet, musician, and vocalist. He is well-known for his marriage to Euridice and his attempt to rescue her from the depths of the Underworld. Plato tells us that Orpheus was sentenced by the gods to be killed at the hands of the Thracian women because he lacked the courage to offer his life in place of his beloved Euridice. This is a variation on the better-known story in which Orpheus dies while bringing Euridice back from Hades. In this scene, the young musician, still clutching his lyre in his right hand, is attacked by several Thracian women bearing various kinds of weapons. Two Thracian men, one wearing a hooded cloak, observe the dramatic scene from their position on the back of this water jar.
Side A: ΟΡΦΕΥΣ
According to L, D. Caskey and J. D. Beazley, Attic Vase Paintings in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, entry 107; Shortly before 1879: found in an Etruscan cemetery near Foiano della Chiana on the property of Alfonso del Soldato on the hill rising in front of the Church of S. Francesco, about a hundred paces from the façade; by 1890: with Edward Perry Warren (purchased in Rome); November 4, 1890: gift of Edward Perry Warren to MFA
Gift of Edward Perry Warren