Attic Black-Figure Panel Amphora (side A: Dionysos with Maenads and Satyrs) (side B: The return of Hephaistos)
ca. 550 BC
6th century BC
12 1/2 in. x 8 1/4 in. (31.8 cm. x 21 cm.)
Ancient Mediterranean, Greek
Medium and Support
Gift of Edward Perry Warren, Esq., Honorary Degree, 1926
This amphora, a type of ceramic vessel used for storing liquids, especially wine, was painted in the latter half of the 6th c. BCE by a vase painter working in Athens. Known as the Painter of Berlin 1686 after his name-sake vessel in the Staatliche Museum in Berlin, the artist worked in the black-figure technique and favored humorous and bawdy scenes. On the amphora in the Bowdoin museum features the Dionysus, the god of wine and revelry, crowned with ivy and holding a rhyton (drinking horn) and a vine of ripe grapes. He is attended on either side by a duo of satyrs and maenads, the woodland creatures and female followers that form his traditional retinue. The opposite panel features a young man riding a mule, accompanied by a group of satyrs and maenads. This narrative scene like depicts to the return of Hephaistos to Olympus. In Greek myth, the Olympian Hephaistos was brought back to Mount Olympus by Dionysus on the back of a mule on account of his lame foot. A particularly ribald note is struck by the mule’s erect phallus, which supports a oenochoe, a vessel used to serve wine.
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