Pelike with warriors arming for departure

Classical Period
about 430 B.C.
The Kleophon Painter

Catalogue Raisonné

Caskey-Beazley, Attic Vase Paintings (MFA), no. 166.


Overall: 36.1 cm (14 3/16 in.) Diameter: 29 cm (11 7/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Ceramic, Red Figure technique

On View

Gallery 212A-B


The Ancient World



A: On this red-figured pelike, an ephebe is presented with arms by a woman, perhaps his mother, while another ephebe in traveling attire looks on. The rightmost figure holds a spear in his left hand and wears a petasos, and a chlamys, the short cloak of soldiers, is draped over his body. The younth in the center holds his spear in a similar fashion, and has a sheathed sword hanging from a shoulder strap. He wears a belted tunic made of thick fabric and decorated with registers of geometric patterning. This peculiar garment is very close to the ceremonial tunic called the ependytes, which suggests the ritual nature of this scene. His headband may have cushioned his head while wearing the helmet. He rests a shield on the ground which bears the image of a passant lion. While shield bosses take nearly endless forms, lions are probably the most common subject. At the left the woman facing the two figures wears a chiton with kolpos and holds a Corinthian helmet with a prominent horsehair crest in front of the central figure. Her downward gaze, which meets the eye openings of the helmet suggests both contemplation and mourning. The attitude of this figure, almost certainly a family member, indicates the uncertainty of survival once he is sent on campaign. At the end of the first year of the ephebia (the two-year period of mandatory military training), trainees were invested with a shield and spear. Perhaps this event is represented here. The ultimate departure for war or training is emphasized by the traveling attire of the other male.

B: Three youths stand on the reverse of this pelike. They all wear himatia, and one faces the others with an outstretched arm.


By date unknown: with Edward Perry Warren (according to Warren's records: Bought in Athens: found near present cemetery); March 24, 1903: purchased by MFA from Edward Perry Warren

Credit Line

Francis Bartlett Donation of 1900