Fragment, probably from an amphora

Greek, South Italian
Late Classical to Early Hellenistic Period
330–320 B.C.
Painter the Ascoli Satriano Painter

Place of Manufacture: Italy, Apulia

Catalogue Raisonné

Vase-Painting in Italy (MFA), no. 054.


Height x width: 10.8 x 14.5 cm (4 1/4 x 5 11/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Ceramic, Red Figure

Not On View


Europe, The Ancient World



Pentheus, with a sword in his right hand and a scabbard in his left (both yellow), is attacked by at least four maeanads. He is nude save for a yellow pilos and the cloak over his left arm. One maenad, perhaps Agave, reaches for the king’s head with her right hand and holds a thysos in her left; the strands of her black hair are rendered by incision. She wears a necklace, earrings, and a beaded fillet, all in white. Her bracelets are yellow. Two white pins secure her peplos at the shoulders. Her peplos, like those of her border, edged with dots. The maenad at the upper left also carries a thyrsos. At the right are the knee of a third maenad and the braceleted right hand of a fourth. In the field at the center is a pendant flower, perhaps at one end of a beaded chain.

Although Trendall, in RVP, listed this as a work of the Boston Orestes Painter, a Paestan artist, a wealth of new vases by the Ascoli Satriano Painter has caused Trendall to reconsider his earlier attribution and assign this fragment to that northern Apulian painter, who was deeply influenced by the Paestan style. This change came too late for the attribution to be noted in the second supplement to RVAp, but in a recent letter Trendall compares the style, including dotted borders and pendant flowers, of two oinochoai: Foggia 129328 (RVAp, II, p. 720, no. 880), and a vase in the Swiss art market (RVAp, Suppl. I, p. 127, no. 880a).

The scene on the Boston fragment may have been inspired by a tragedy of Aeschylus, Pentheus, although the Bacchae of Euripides is perhaps a more likely candidate. The subject had a long history in vase-painting, and no direct theatrical inspiration need have been involved. For the subject, see Caskey and Beazley, vol. II, pp. 1-3; Brommer, Vasenlisten, 3rd ed., pp. 485-486; A. Greifenhagen, Berliner Museen, N. F. 16 (1966), pp. 2-6; and M. Padgett, in Antikenmuseum Berlin, Euphronios der Maler, exhib. cat. (Milan, 1991), pp. 174-177.

Interior unglazed; glaze has slightly metallic luster; surface freckled; added white on chiton belts, necklace, bracelets, shoulder-pins, berries earring, fillet, sword, pilos, and scabbard; Agave’s hair incised.

entry from Vase-Painting in Italy, no. 54


By date unknown: with Robert E. Hecht, Jr.; purchased by MFA from Robert E. Hecht, Jr., June 25, 1986

Credit Line

Dora S. Pintner Fund