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Theseus and Ariadne | by Egisto Sani
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Theseus and Ariadne

A woman with long hair and latticed skirt is holding a circular object surrounded by dots; a man is looking towards her and grasps her forearm. He is advancing towards the ship, and his forward leg is overlapping with the two steering oars.

The painter, working in the tradition of the Dipylon Master, seems to have broken new ground in his iconography. On this side of the krater we see the first woman to be portrayed convincingly as such, with long locks of hair and a latticed skirt; also the first ship showing two ranks of rowers, presumably the port and starboard rowers on the same level.

Much discussion has centred round the possible significance of the circular object that the woman so ostentatiously flourishes in her right hand. This, together with the ‘heroic’ Dipylon shield inserted near the stern, has been thought to militate against any interpretation as a genre scene drawn from everyday life. The energetic forward gesture of the man, gripping the woman’s wrist while preparing to embark, suggests that she is to accompany the ship’s departure; and the circlet held by her has been viewed as an early experiment in displaying a personal attribute, identifying a personage in a mythical narrative.

According to C. Robert’s view (Archäologische Hermeneutik, [Berlin, 1918], 38-9, fig. 24), the krater shows Ariadne here displays the Crown of Light with which she had illumined the Knossian labyrinth to help Theseus in his combat with the Minotaur; this attribute is mentioned by Pausanias (v.19.1) as being held by Ariadne in her portrayal with Theseus on the seventh-century BC Chest of Kypselos at Olympia. In this ship scene, then, where she departs by sea from Crete with Theseus, the circlet is thought to identify Ariadne, and to explain how their escape became possible.

(Source Museum WEB Site)


Wheel-made painted louterion;

Attributed to “the Subdipylon Group;

Made in Attic

From Thebes, Boeotia

Around 730 BC.

London, The British Museum


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Taken on July 4, 2012