Scenes from the mythological Trojan War decorate this Athenian black-figure neck-amphora. On the front, Achilles and Ajax, two great heroes of the Greeks, sit playing a board game. The goddess Athena stands in front of the board and gestures. The warriors have their armor and weapons ready, as if just pausing during a break in the conflict. This scene of Ajax and Achilles gaming was very popular in Athenian vase-painting of the late 500s B.C. and was a favorite of the painters in the Leagros Group. Many scholars believe that this mythological scene also served as a contemporary political parable on the value of staying alert, since the tyrant Peisistratos had been able to take control of the city of Athens while the army was distracted. The back of the vase depicts three hoplites, or warriors, in a line. Such files of hoplites are rather unusual in vase-painting, and this depiction may have been meant to relate to the scene on the front of the vase. These hoplites may be Greeks on the march to counter a Trojan attack, while Ajax and Achilles are notified by Athena. Such an interpretation would explain Athena's unusually prominent position on this rendition of the scene. --J. Paul Getty Museum; Bareiss Loan: S.80.AE.292, May, Helmut, ed. Weltkunst aus Privatbesitz, exh. cat. (Cologne: Kunsthalle Köln, 1968), cat. no. A 24.; Bothmer, Dietrich von, and J. Bean. Greek Vases and Modern Drawings from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Bareiss. Exh. checklist, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: 1969. p. 2, no. 19.; Brommer, Frank. Vasenlisten zur griechischen Heldensage. 3rd ed. (Marburg: 1973) p. 335, no. 23.; Woodford, Susan.
Pottery: black-figured hydria. Designs in black on red panels, with borders of ivy down the sides and palmettes along the bottom; accessories of white and purple. 1. On the shoulder: Departure of warriors: In the centre, a warrior to right, beardless, with long hair, fillet, short chiton, and sword, fastening a greave on his left leg, which rests on his helmet; the other greave is already on. Facing him, stands a female figure with long tresses, fillet, long chiton and diploidion, holding his spear in right hand. Behind her is a warrior to left with tall visored helmet, chlamys, greaves, spear and shield with device of a bent leg supporting with right hand the shield of the first warrior, which has a tripod as device. Behind him is an archer departing to right, and looking back, bearded, with peaked cap, short embroidered chiton, double-headed axe in right hand, left hand raised, quiver at side. Confronting him is a warrior, as last, with three pellets on shield. On the left of the centre group is a similar warrior to left, with three pellets on shield, confronting an archer, as the former, but beardless; also a beardless figure to right in long chiton and embroidered himation, holding in left hand a wand or spear. 2. On the body: Achilles and Penthesilea: In the centre is Achilles moving to right, bearded, with long tresses, fully armed, two spears in right hand, carrying over left shoulder the body of Penthesilea. Her head hangs down in front with eyes closed, long tresses and a purple wreath, and she wears a short chiton and cuirass, on right arm a bracelet, on right leg an anklet, at side a sword, with sheath terminating in a panther's head. By the side of Achilles is a Boeotian shield with device of an ivy-wreath. In front of him are a warrior and archer departing to right; the warrior, who is looking back, is fully armed, with triquetra as device on shield; the archer is bearded, with Phrygian cap, short embroidered chiton, and greaves, in left hand an axe, at back a quiver. On the left is a fallen Amazon lying back with left leg drawn up, long tresses, fillet, high-crested cap, cuirass, short embroidered chiton, greaves, spear, and shield with two pellets. Over her strides a warrior to left, fully armed, shield with device of a bull's head transfixing her with spear. Above this warrior is inscribed: KAΛOΣ; in front of Achilles is inscribed : KPITI ... Κρίτί[ας]. --The British Museum, A Catalogue of the Greek and Etruscan Vases in the British Museum, London, William Nicol, 1851; Walters, H B; Forsdyke, E J; Smith, C H, Catalogue of Vases in the British Museum, I-IV, London, BMP, 1893; Walters, H B, Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum: Great Britain 8, British Museum 6, London, BMP, 1931