From:Teece Museum of Classical Antiquities
About this objectThis pelike, used for storing wine or water, is similar to an amphora in purpose and style; however, unlike an amphora, this vase flanged so it can stand on its own.
Side A of the vase depicts the death of Aegisthus. While Agamemnon was at the Trojan War, his wife Clytemnestra took Aegisthus as a lover. When Agamemnon returned to Mycenae, the pair murdered him in his bath and went on to reign over the city. Their reign, however, only lasted eight years because Agamemnon's son Orestes murdered them in retaliation for his father's death. The painter has captured the moment just before Aegisthus' death, revealing the rage of Orestes and the fear of his victims. Aegisthus sits on an altar in the centre, looking as though he was seeking refuge, with a hand reached out towards his stepson. On the left is Orestes, naked but for the pilos (a conical felt cap, often worn by travellers) on his head. He holds a machaira (dagger) in his right hand and seizes Aegisthus by the hair. The figure of Aegisthus wears a himation (cloak) that has slipped down to his waist and sandals on his feet.
Meanwhile, a female figure flees to the right with a gesture of despair and an expression of fear on her face. She is most likely meant to be Clytemnestra, running from her son, but Orestes' sister Electra is another possibility. She wears a decorated peplos. Behind the altar is a column with a boukranion (sculptured ornament of an ox skull) hanging from it.
Meanwhile, Side B shows a scene with three cloaked youths. There is no myth associated with the trio and it may merely be a calm scene, meant to provide contrast to the intensity of the other side.
The vase is attributed to the Vaste Painter, who was a follower of the Amykos Painter, but his style is cruder than that of his teacher. The vase painter may have been inspired by the play 'Electra' written by Euripides in ca. 410 BCE, in which the hero Orestes kills Aegisthus at an altar.
MakerAttributed to the Vaste Painter
Date Madeca. 399-375 BC
Medium and MaterialsCeramic: Pottery
Style and IconographyLucanian
Style and IconographyRed-figure
TechniqueSlip trailing (relief line)
TechniqueThrowing (pottery technique)
MeasurementsHeight 247mm; Diameter 197mm
Subject and Association KeywordsTheatre in art
Subject and Association KeywordsClothing and dress
Subject and Association KeywordsWomen in art
Subject and Association KeywordsMurder
Subject and Association KeywordsViolence in art
Named CollectionThe James Logie Memorial Collection, University of Canterbury, New Zealand
Credit LinePurchased, 1973.
Copyright LicenceAll rights reserved