Black-figure neck amphora with satyrs and maenads
Wheelmade, with added white and red pigment; mended from fragments
Attributed to the Painter of Villa Giulia M. 482
Made in Attica, Greece; ca 525 - 500 BC
Height 23.7cm Width 16.7cm Diameter (mouth) 11.6cm Diameter (foot) 10.2cm
Nicholson Museum 98.25; presented by Sir Charles Nicholson
In the centre of the side exhibited is a satyr supporting a kithara with his left hand and using a plectron with long threads attached to it with his right. He is flanked by two satyrs, each carrying a maenad wearing a short-sleeved long decorated chiton. All the figures are surrounded by vines, a motif associated with the god Dionysos, god of wine and intoxication.
The kithara is an elaborate version of the lyre with eight strings, a wooden sound-box (rather than the tortoise-shell of the lyre) and elaborate arms. It is usually shown as an instrument played by virtuosi at concerts, and this tells us something about how the scene was read by the ancient viewer.
Senior satyrs such as that represented here are shown playing the kithara on other occasions and we have evidence of at least one such performance created in the theatre, a vase in New York on which three men dressed as old satyrs are making themselves ready in front of a piper.
On the other side of the vase is an excerpt from the battle of Greeks and Amazons. A helmeted warrior carrying shield and spear forces an Amazon to the ground between two draped male figures holding spears.
On the neck of the vase is a zone of palmette and lotus, on the shoulder, tongues, and below the scene a band of linked dots, a lotus chain and rays. The foot is painted black. The painter has used red pigment for details of the dresses and for the beard and front hair of the satyrs; white is added for the flesh of the maenads. There is also red on the fillet at the junction of neck and shoulder and on that between body and stem.