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Friday, April 10, 2015

Achilles & Ajax Playing a Game

Exekias was a famous potter and vase painter. Not only did he mold several vases, but he also painted them and even included inscriptions. This vase is a black-figure amphora by Exekias. An amphora
was typically used for storing and transporting oils and wine. You can tell that it's black-figure ware
because the background is a red/orange color, and the figures are black. This style was popular on vases during the Archaic period. The figures are the Trojan War heroes Achilles and Ajax.  They are playing a game, probably dice. This vase dates to around 540-530 B.C.

If you look closer at the figures, you'll notice that there are words near each of them. Exekias included these inscriptions almost to function as captions for the scene he depicted on the vase. He clearly labels Achilles on the left and Ajax on the right. Near each of their mouths, Exekias also included words that each character is saying. Achilles calls out tes[s]era which means "four," and Ajax calls out tria which means "three." They are each calling out the numbers on the dice.

Off to the left of the scene, Exekias proudly added  his signature, stating "Exekias made me." This was rarely if ever seen on vases before Exekias. On the right, he includes a kalos inscription, which dedicates his work to someone stating "... is beautiful."

This work is a breakthrough piece because it is one of the first paintings to include text functioning as a signature, captions, quotations, and dedications. 

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