BMCR 2009.01.34

Perikleische Panathenäen: Ein Krater des Malers von München 2335

, Perikleische Panathenäen: Ein Krater des Malers von München 2335. Gutenberg: Verlag, 2008. 154. ISBN 9783940598004 €24.90 (pb).

This book is a translation of the edition in modern Greek which was published in Thessaloniki in 1989 with an English summary which has been retained in the German translation. At some time in the 1970s, fragments of an Attic red-figured calyx-krater were discovered in the ancient part of the modern Greek city of Larissa in Thessaly. For many years it was in a private collection but now it is in the Archaeological Museum at Larissa, inv. no. 86/101. The vase has no archaeological record so what we can learn about it must be gleaned from internal evidence, which turns out to be quite informative. The vase was broken and mended in antiquity indicating it was a valued possession. Its restored height is 37.0 cm; the restored diameter 46.5. Large sections of the rim, body and foot are missing and filled in with plaster. Preliminary sketch is visible here and there and added white was used for the inscriptions as well as for details such as wreaths and fillets.

Tiverios attributed the krater to the Painter of Munich 2335, an uneven artist working during the time of Perikles, and the vase may be dated in the decade 440-430 B. C. The figural decoration is in two friezes on each side of the body, a system called “double-decker.” There are four scenes each of them contests well known from the Panathenaic Festival: aulete, aulode, and two foot-races, one of them for men in armor, the other for boys. Tiverios describes these scenes in careful detail so the reader may easily visualize them.

The upper zone on the obverse depicts a flute-playing contest. Only part of the musician dressed in a decorative garment is preserved, but the trace of his bent right elbow makes clear he played the aulos and his position in the scene indicates he stood on a low platform which is typical for these scenes. Behind him a youth inscribed Neokles sits on a klismos, next there is a Doric column, then a flying Nike holding out a hydria that is probably a prize and behind her a bearded man inscribed Ariston sits on a klismos. In front of the musician at the break is another Nike (just her outstretched left hand holding a wreath remains). The lower zone on the obverse shows a foot-race in armor, accompanied by a trumpeter named Sigalos. Of the three runners, only their lower legs and feet are preserved, positioned so it is clear they are running very fast. One of their shields shows part of its device: the leg of a runner similar to its bearer.

The upper frieze on the reverse shows a contest of a singer accompanied by an aulos player, one standing behind the other on a low podium. Behind them is a thin column and a Nike holding a wreath. In front of them a man named Amphikles sits on a klismos holding a stick (it has no finial) and behind him is a standing figure. The scene concludes with a Nike alighting (just a toe touches ground). The lower frieze depicts the end of a race for boys. At the far left is the head of Nike, then a little of a nude youth named Lysikles, to right, who is the winner. Next comes a man in a himation facing him holding a staff. He is inscribed Antiphanes. Behind him is the touching figure of Thrasykles moving away from the scene and whose dejected demeanor indicates he lost the race.

The next chapter focuses on the development of the calyx-krater from its invention around 520 B.C.until the fourth century when it ceased to exist in clay. The earliest preserved example of this shape is still the one found in the 1936 excavations on the North Slope of the Akropolis and attributed to Exekias (the reviewer has often wondered if Exekias signed this vase as potter as he did others that were new shapes or known shapes that he reworked). A very fragmentary calyx-krater also from the North Slope belongs with this one (see Hesperia 9 [1940], pp. 153-158). Tiverios makes the important point that the calyx-krater was created for the symposium because its flaring wall and wide rim allowed the wine to be ladled from it more easily than from the volute-krater or the column-krater. He is right to point out that the psykter and the calyx-krater enter the repertoire of vase shapes at the same time, ca. 530-520 B.C. The psykter held the wine and stood in the calyx-krater which contained the coolant (see p. 153, fig. 32 which depicts a representation of a pyskter in a calyx-krater on a cup in Essen, Folkwang Museum A 169); the two go together. See Klaus Vierneisel “Psykter für kühlen Wein,” in Kunst der Schale. Kultur des Trinkens (Munich, 1990), pp. 259-264. Tiverios makes the interesting point that if one has to carry a heavy krater full of wine, the calyx-krater would be awkward, because its handles are placed low on the vase (they attach to the cul). The bell-krater, invented around the same time as the calyx-krater (see Agora 30 [1997], p. 35), with its handles set fairly high on the wall would be an easier transport vase. Then comes a good discussion of the systems of decoration of the calyx-krater. Tiverios notes that its relatively flat wall provided a ready format for trying out different schemes of figural decoration, not just a single frieze of figures, but the double-decker one as well, which he remarks begins in the workshop of the Niobid Painter. This is also the workshop that produced the first example of figures set on multiple ground lines, which occurs on the name vase of the Niobid Painter, Louvre G 341, and afterward becomes quite popular on many different shapes. After charting the general development of the calyx-krater, Tiverios makes some comparisons between Larissa inv. no. 86/101 and contemporary examples that place it in its context, noting that its shape is closest to some by the Phiale Painter and the one in New York by the Persephone Painter, thus dating the Larissa krater ca. 440-430 B.C.

After this section comes the discussion of the Painter of Munich 2335, a fairly well-known artist whose name vase is a neck-amphora and whose style varies considerably ranging from quite good (especially his white ground lekythoi) to hasty and careless. Tiverios cites a great deal of comparanda to justify his attribution of the Larissa krater to this painter and it would take a great deal of time to check all the citations unless one had the advantage of sitting in the Beazley Archive looking through the photographs in the painter’s box. But there is no reason to question the attribution, because Tiverios illustrates a few cogent examples that erase any doubt. He then divides the painter’s oeuvre into three phases, noting that for each one the artist prefers certain shapes. He places the Larissa krater close to the early work, draws many comparisons with contemporary painters and points out that the Larissa krater is rather eclectic for it does not fit into a nice neat slot. Its particular importance is that it is the only known calyx-krater by the Painter of Munich 2335 decorated in the double-decker system and even more important it is the only one of his vases that bears inscriptions, to which I shall now turn.

This is the most important part of the publication of this vase, because the names of the figures are not names from myth as one would expect but, with two exceptions, they are names in Athens during the time of Perikles. One exception is Sigalos, the trumpeter in the lower zone of the obverse (Tiverios suggests this may be a kind of nickname). The other is Amphikles who is difficult to connect with a known person. Tiverios remarks that Ariston may be the person who was archon in 454/3 and Neokles possibly from the family of Themistokles. Antiphanes may have been the father of a well-known politician who was murdered in 411 B.C. The athletes, Lysikles and Thrasykles, are names found in Attic prosopography, Lysikles perhaps the politician of this name known after the death of Perikles in 429 B.C., and Thrasykles is a name that appears during the Peace of Nikias in 421-15 B.C. Tiverios discusses these names in considerable detail, but is quick to state that there is not enough evidence to conclude they were the persons the Painter of Munich 2335 had in mind when he decorated the Larissa krater. What can be said is that it is unusual to have names of known persons that are not kalos names, so they must have meaning, especially since this is the only known vase by the painter that has the figures inscribed. Furthermore, all the scenes are connected with the Panathenaia, suggesting the painter had in mind an iconographical program. I think Tiverios is correct that this vase was made as a special order for a particular person, but more than that would be speculation. Since there are not many Attic vases found at Larissa, it is tempting to think that the person who commissioned the vase had a personal connection with this city or may even have resided there. Such questions need to be asked, even if there are no certain answers. It is a great pity that the excavation record for this important vase is completely lacking. Details of provenance and ownership might have come to light.

The reviewer has a couple of criticisms. The first is that the bibliography was not brought up to date, except in note 169 where the author cites an article by Alain Pasquier published in 2000 and one by himself that appeared in 2001. This is unfortunate. One book that should have been referred to is Haritini Kotsidu, Die musische Agone der Panathenäen in archaischer und klassischer Zeit. Eine historisch-archäologische Untersuchung, Munich 1991. For Agora P 27349, a one-piece amphora in the manner of the Peleus Painter mentioned in note 9 on p. 21, see Agora 30 (1997), p. 135, no. 8, pl. 5 with comparanda. The pseudo-Panathenaic amphora cited in note 97 (published by Dietrich von Bothmer in Antike Kunst 30 [1987], pp. 64-65, pl. 9, 1-2) and again in note 131 as on loan to the Metropolitan Museum is now in its permanent collection, 1989.28.89 (see MMA Journal 42 [2007], pp. 34-36, figs. 23-24).

A more serious criticism is the poor quality of the illustrations — they are the same ones that appeared in the Greek edition of this book. All are in black and white (except for the front and back covers), rather washed out (a better adjective would be tired-looking), fragments and whole vases are contoured instead of depicted against a slightly contrasting background, and the four illustrations of the whole vase do not fill the space available. This vase deserves a better pictorial presentation especially given all the excellent scholarly work that went into the text. In this day and age of superb digital color photography, there is no excuse for such a poor presentation of this important vase.