Mixing bowl (calyx krater) with the killing of Agamemnon
Early Classical Period
about 460 B.C.
the Dokimasia Painter
Place of Manufacture: Greece, Attica, Athens
Highlights: Classical Art (MFA), p. 066.
Height: 51 cm (20 1/16 in.); diameter: 51 cm (20 1/16 in.)
Medium or Technique
Ceramic, Red Figure
Greek Classical Gallery (Gallery 215C)
Both sides of this vase illustrate tragic scenes from the story of King Agamemnon’s return to Mycenae after the fall of Troy.
While Agamemnon was away at war, his wife Klytemnestra took as her lover Agamemnon’s cousin Aegisthos. On the king’s return home, Aegisthos and Klytemnestra plotted to kill Agamemnon. In one scene, Aegisthos gets ready to plunge a sword into Agamemnon, wet from the bath and trapped in a net. Klytemnestra carries an ax to assist her lover. Three other women witness the horrific crime. These women are perhaps Chrysothemis and Elektra, Agamemnon’s younger and older daughters, and Kassandra, his slave.
Following the first brutal murder, the honorable children of Klytemnestra and Agamemnon avenged the death of their father. Orestes, whipped to action by his sister Elektra, enters the palace to kill Aegisthos who was seated playing the lyre (barbitos). Elektra stands to the right encouraging her brother’s actions, while her mother Klytemnestra rushes in with a double axe aimed at her son’s head.
The Aeolic columns under the handles suggest the palace of Agamemnon and Klytemnestra at Mycenae.
By 1958: with Robert E. Hecht, Jr.; purchased by MFA from Robert E. Hecht, Jr., September 18, 1963
William Francis Warden Fund