ElAnt v2n5 - Did Not Potters Portray Peisistratos Posthumously as Herakles?

Volume 2, Number 5
March 1995


K. Cavalier,
Department of History,
Simon Fraser University,
e-mail: cavalier@sfu.ca

One of the most interesting approaches by scholars to the study of Attic pottery has been the linking of pottery motifs to contemporary people and political events. They propose that the art reflects how powerful Eupatratid families, individuals and factions manipulated cults and stories for personal political aims. A difficulty with this approach has been determining what interaction there might have been between the aristocratic patrons and the pot makers and painters of the ancient Kerameikos. In this paper I hope to reassess some of the scholarship that has arisen from this approach, most particularly that of John Boardman, concerning the linkage of Peisistratos with depictions of Herakles, and then reassess our notions of the status of the ancient artist in order to remove some of the difficulties associated with Boardman's correlation.

John Boardman may be considered the father of this branch of scholarly inquiry which links politics to motifs in the recent study of ancient art history, even though there were predecessors who made this connection.(1). In an influential series of articles, beginning in the early 1970s, Boardman argued persuasively for such manipulation of the cults by Peisistratos and his sons in the sixth century. Boardman reasoned that Peisistratid patronage was responsible for the large number of pots portraying Herakles, most particularly the Introduction of Herakles to Olympos. Reminding us of the story in Herodotos (1.60) of Peisistratos and Phye (the woman he dressed as Athena during his coup), Boardman argued that Herakles became a favourite hero for the Peisistratids and their allies.(2)

In 1975 Boardman expanded his arguments to suggest that the motif of Herakles' initiation into the Eleusinian Mysteries was patronized by Peisistratos to coincide with his greater support for the newer, more "national" cult, based in Eleusis. Boardman argued persuasively that Peisistratos consciously encouraged the growth of this cult to diminish the importance of older cults within the city, controlled by other Eupatrid families. He suspected that a new emphasis on the Lesser Mysteries and the greater role of the Kerykes as dadouchoi likely brought the Peisistratids support from that genos.(3) The building of the Peisistratid Telesterion would also seem to indicate an attempt to enlist Eumolpid support since that genos controlled the heirophancy at Eleusis.

Boardman's articles concerning the appropriation of Herakles by the Peisistratids are very important pioneering studies in the relationship between art and politics in ancient Greece(4) and have prompted numerous scholars to link Eupatrid families and patrons with the painters and pottery workshops of Attica.(5) However, critics remain sceptical of the validity of the approach. Let us briefly consider the criticism of the opposition.

Boardman's arguments were critiqued by Warren Moon in his book, Ancient Greek Art and Iconography, published in 1983.(6) Here Moon points out that other than in two examples of the Apotheosis of Herakles around mid-century (when the alleged ruse was to have taken place), "the story has only light development until ca. 525 B.C."(7) He further describes a "burst of interest in the tale, with half the remaining examples occurring between 525 and 515 B.C., the rest 515 to 500." Moon argues that there seem to be as many examples of the scene during the waxing of the Peisistratids as in their wane. He judges that, "It is unlikely that the tyrant's sons, wanting to legitimize their own right to rule, would have fostered (or allowed) references to their father's seizure of power by skulduggery."(8)

Moon also reports, from his 20th century religious vantage point, "that Peisistratos was seriously guilty of sacrilege".(9) He then cites Aristotle (Ath. Pol. 14-16) who "tells us that Peisistratos governed by ancient laws and wanted his rule to be viewed as legitimate"(10) and, remarkably, Moon concludes that "reference to Phye's masquerade would seem to slander the Peisistratids, seriously". (One should remember that it was slander only if the story was untrue. If the Phye incident occurred, it might, conceivably, have been embarrassing but it would not have been slanderous.) It seems clear that Moon was unconvinced by Boardman.

A more recent attack on Boardman's approach was undertaken by R. M. Cook in JHS in 1987.(11) Cook states that Moon's critique is "The only detailed opposition I have come across."(12) Cook cites other attacks that are more theoretical and which even he does not find convincing,(13) and acknowledges that Moon's criticism concentrates on one particular subject. Still, Cook relies on Moon's criticisms to attack Boardman, adding that, "the choice of Heracles to represent Pisistratus is not an obvious one.... He was a notoriously violent and aggressive hero, while Pisistratus was sedulously mild, preferring peace and prosperity."(14)

Mary B. Moore's 1971 dissertation, Horses on Black- Figured Vases of the Archaic Period: circa 620-480 B.C., is cited as an important source for Moon's article(15). We should note that she was a student of von Bothmer, a scholar at NYU whose reviews of Boardman's books have occasionally been scathing. In 1986 Moore argued that Boardman's association of the Introduction of Herakles to Olympia as a Peisistratid motif is doubtful because the event to which it refers--namely Peisistratos' ruse with the woman dressed as Athena--took place some thirty years or so earlier than the appearance of the motif in significant numbers. She also points out that the majority of the Introduction scenes with a chariot were manufactured in the final quarter of the sixth century. She judges, "Political symbolism in art tends to lose its edge and meaning rather quickly and one should be particularly cautious about seeing political allusions well after the relevant event."(16)

Moore also diminishes Boardman's credibility by quoting Brian F. Cook's review of Moon's book in the Times Literary Supplement.(17) In that review Boardman is reported to have "ended his public lecture on the subject with: 'If you believe that, you'll believe anything'". Interestingly, R.M. Cook also suggests that Boardman agrees with much of B.F. Cook's criticism.(18) It would appear that these scholars find it implausible that a person with Boardman's learning and expertise could seriously entertain such theories.

Let us more closely examine the above criticisms. The major problems that scholars seem to have with Boardman's theory on the Introduction motif are that: 1) this motif surfaces with regularity only in the last quarter of the sixth century, 2) Peisistratos wanted to have his rule viewed as legitimate and people to recognize that he governed by ancient laws, 3) the depiction of Peisistratos as Herakles and Phye as Athena was impious and something that the Peisistratids would have wanted "hushed up", and, 4) that Herakles "was a notoriously violent and aggressive hero". Are Moon's, Moore's and Cook's assessments of Boardman's theory fair?

The first problem, concerning the appearance of the motif in the last quarter of the sixth century, makes it clear that we are dealing here not with Peisistratos, but with the Peisistratids. I think that distinction is crucial. The second and third problems concerning how Peisistratos and his sons wished their actions and rule to be viewed is belied by the fact that Peisistratos seized power unconstitutionally and ruled as a tyrant. Aristotle was discussing Peisistratos' wishes not Athenian thought in the tyrant's assertion to have governed by ancient laws and the necessities of mounting a successful coup may well have outweighed the possible appearance of impiety. We must remember that Peisistratos was, after all, successful in seizing power. Finally the popularity of Herakles may also indicate that being "violent and aggressive" was not considered as politically incorrect in sixth century Athens as it might be today.

Boardman himself answered some of these criticisms in his response to Cook in JHS in 1989.(19) The fact that he chose to respond seriously belies Moore's implication that he has reservations about the approach. It is true that Boardman acknowledged agreement with much of Cook's argument, but within its context, this must be seen as a polite prelude to his counter attack.(20) Boardman confronts Cook's objection that the choice of Herakles was not an obvious one by stating that surely he was "given his special relationship to the goddess..." and that, "the use of the Athena/Herakles partnership to represent Athens was probably not even an Athenian invention, and certainly not an invention of Peisistratos, but associated with the Alcmaeonid family..."(21) In fact, Boardman points out that, "it was the Alcmaeonid Megakles who with Peisistratos devised the tyrant's re-entry to Athens in a chariot at 'Athena's' side."(22)

He also rightly asserts that Herakles' violent and aggressive nature "did not hamper over centuries, indeed millennia, the readiness of mortal rulers to identify with him."(23) Boardman addresses the fact that the popularity of Herakles should have been extinguished after the expulsion of Hippias; Boardman recognizes that it did diminish, but that it did not, and could not, completely die off because Herakles "is bound to Athena more than to any family and too deeply embedded in Greek consciousness as the mortal hero who bears all and wins immortality."(24) Finally, Boardman confronts Moon's assertion of impiety. "Moon worried about the impiety of impersonation, but if the episode happened at all (as I believe it did) it was in a society where the impersonation of deities by mortals in acts of cult and cult-related drama or choral presentation, sometimes of a less than dignified character, was acceptable, and we do not know how far the impersonation by Peisistratos might have gone -- probably there was none physically."(25)

W.R. Connor, who also criticizes Boardman's linkage of the Introduction scene on the basis that Herodotos does not mention any lion-skin or other attributes worn by Peisistratos to make his impersonation of Herakles a certainty, does not "see any hint of impiety as has sometimes been suspected, e.g. by Moon."(26) He acknowledges "a cultural pattern among the Greeks of dressing as a divinity on certain ceremonial occasions...[but] Peisistratos did not use it."(27) Even Boardman says that he doubts that Peisistratos actually dressed as Herakles, but not for the reasons given by Connor (i.e. that Phye was enacting an Athena apobates ).(28) Connor actually states that "Pisistratus avoided representing himself as Heracles" and cites Mary B. Moore's article as authority.(29)

What becomes clear from this discussion is that we are not certain whether Peisistratos ever physically depicted himself as Herakles, or, if he did, whether this would have been seen as impious or merely as laughable. But does that mean that the linkage could not have been made by the appropriation of a mythological analogy? Could such a myth be appropriated without fear of the charge of impiety or ridicule? Even if such a fear did exist for Peisistratos, does it follow that it would have been as important to his sons? Perhaps the impersonation of Herakles never actually took place (the Phye incident is not synonymous with such an impersonation, although the outfitting of the bodyguards with clubs strengthens the association). That does not rule out the possibility that only after the intervening decades was it necessary to evoke an analogy with Herakles. A full-fledged impersonation need not have been required to appropriate the existing mythological precedent.

In reviewing the circumstances surrounding the motif of the Introduction, it can be seen that most examples occur in the last quarter of the sixth Century.(30) If we question what is happening in the depicted story, we must answer that it is an apotheosis. If we also ask whom is apotheosized, we must conclude that it is the dead. If we then contemplate as to who of importance in Athenian politics died in the last third or so of the sixth century, Peisistratos comes to mind. Clearly the Introduction motif, if it does concern to do with Peisistratos is posthumous and may be seen as a Peisistratid ploy.

What were Peisistratid practices following the death of the father? We do have the appearance of a reconciliation within Attica on one of the fragments of an archon list carved ca 424 which includes names from the 520s (first published by Merritt in 1939).(31) In their Phoenix article of 1960,(32) Eliot and McGregor ably defended Merritt's dating of the fragment and its identity as part of an archon list from the Sixth Century. Their judgement was:

"We conjecture that the reconciliation took place soon after the death of Peisistratos; and historical probability urges that Hippias rather than his father recalled the Alkmaionidai. We conjecture that the second exile was a direct result of the murder of Hipparchos, which had embittered Hippias and provoked, even reawakened, a tyrant's traditional suspicions of the aristocratic families."(33)

We are also told in Herodotos 1.60.2 of the collusion between Megakles and Peisistratos based on Peisistratos' promise to marry Megakles' daughter, that had set in motion the whole Phye incident approximately thirty-five years earlier. Obviously the strange bedfellows of one time could become the bitter enemies of another.

The fragmentary archon list (34) would seem to indicate not only an attempted rapprochement with the other rival eupatrid families but also an attempt on the part of the Peisistratids to take on the appearance of equality with their "peers". Hippias' name is inscribed as one of the Eponymous archons, along with that of Miltiades, Kleisthenes, Onetorides and Kalliades who were all members of major Eupatrid families in Attica. However, we must be careful to remember Eliot and McGregor's caution that "Favour and reconciliation are not synonymous; nor are power and the eponymous archonship during tyranny."(35)

Is it coincidence that this rapprochement appears to have taken place immediately after the death of Peisistratos? This could have been a short-lived attempt by the Peisistratids to bring their rivals "back into the fold"; it could also have been a reflection of (as it turned out) their misplaced confidence that they were beyond the reach of such families. In such an atmosphere the posthumous justification of the notoriously violent and aggressive actions of their father in unconstitutionally securing power in Athens would be understandable. Linking him to the only hero to attain immortality despite similar obvious flaws would be equally understandable because Herakles, as almost no other hero, embodies the idea that the end justifies the means. The fact that in Athens there was already a perception of Peisistratos as Herakles because of the Phye incident and also because his body-guards were armed with clubs, could only make this process easier. As for impiety or ridicule, well, it is still considered rude to bad-mouth the dead.

We might see this brief period of tolerance on the part of the Peisistratids as the time when opposing Eupatrid forces gathered in their symposia and attempted to build their strength in new ways. We could possibly see the use of red figure pottery as a reflection of this new political outgrowth and could date its advent to the period immediately following Peisistratos' death c. 528/7, but that is another paper for another day.

It was only after the assassination of Hipparchos in 514 that Hippias was forced to drop the pretence of equality amongst the nobility. It was only after some thirteen or fourteen years that the opposing factions to the Peisistratids became so obviously powerful as to necessitate the repressive actions of Hippias. It would be the action of the tyrannicides that would strip the mask of benevolence from the Peisistratids and spur such families as the Alkmaeonidai to action.

Until that time, we could postulate an attempt was made by the Peisistratids to use subtler methods of coercion to ensure the protection of their interests in Attica. These subtler methods surely must have included, and perhaps even depended upon, use of public largesse propaganda and manipulation of cult worship to secure popularity.

The Peisistratid toleration of their rivals, and their attempted reconciliation, were possibly miscalculations of the potential strength that their rivals could muster. Partly this may have been caused in part by the security enjoyed by the Peisistratids in the era of prosperity brought on by the development of the Laureion silver mines. Certainly, by 525 the resources of these rich veins were at the disposal of the regime. Or perhaps the confidence that came from establishing a new religious hierarchy of cults also led to Peisistratid complacency.

In any case, linking the motif of the Introduction to the period of attempted rapprochement with the other aristocratic families, and the celebration of the apotheosis of Herakles, can be seen as an attempt (ca. 527 B.C.) by the sons to posthumously legitimize their father's rule.

Of course, the critical question of how much intercourse existed between the potters and their patrons remains. This is a thorny problem because if there was little such interaction, how could the potters develop such intricate political iconography? We seem to need to know whether potters and patrons "inhabited the same political landscape". The literary sources report that sculptors and other skilled workers were banausoi , "men to whom the nature of their employment denied all possibility of moral or political virtue".(36) After all as Xenophon says, "... banausic activities are held in complete disdain in the Greek cities... they spoil the bodies of the workmen and the overseers, because the nature of the work compels them to sit indoors, and in some cases to spend the day by the fire. Softening of the body leads to softening of the mind."(37)

This point of view was also expressed by Plato and, especially, Aristotle.(38) Two other famous Greek sources written in Roman times include Lucian of Samosata who stated: "If you become a stone-cutter you will be nothing more than a workman, doing hard physical labour... You will be obscure, earning a small wage, a man of low esteem, classed as worthless by public opinion, neither courted by friends, feared by enemies, nor envied by your fellow-citizens, but just a common workman, a craftsman, a face in a crowd, one who makes his living with his hands."(39) And Plutarch's passage in his life of Perikles states: "It does not necessarily follow that if a work is delightful because of its gracefulness, the man who made it is worthy of our serious regard... No one, no gifted young man, upon seeing the Zeus of Pheidias at Olympia or the Hera of Polykleitos at Argos ever actually wanted to be Pheidias or Polykleitos."(40)

Burford acknowledges that the accuracy of these assessments requires considerable qualification but she is convinced that they "... indicate the paradox in certain aspects of ancient thinking about the respective merits of the banausoi and the things they made...."(41) While she says that these attitudes are "only part of the story", and names some apparently respected exceptions amongst ancient craftsmen, it is clear that she holds that the following attitude obtained in Antiquity: "No matter how useful or how beautiful the object, how essential to the physical or spiritual needs of the individual or community for whom it was made -- be it hunting-knife, defence tower, or gold and ivory cult statue -- the maker was in no way admirable."(42) This seems to cast Boardman's basic assumption of close contact between potters and patrons into doubt.

The assessment by Burford is to be contrasted with T.B.L. Webster's notion of a wonderful hundred years when painter and patron knew each other, shared ideas and frequented symposia together.(43) Webster links the Pioneer Group of painters to the aristocratic world of Leagros. He sees the Pioneer Group as "... friends with the Leagros circle."(44) He cites the familiar Brussels A717 stamnos signed by Smikros that depicts Smikros himself at a symposion with Pheidiades, Helike, Choro and Rhode, and that names Antias and Eualkides as kaloi ,(45) and suggests that this is proof that Smikros moved in aristocratic circles. He then cites five further examples indicating a high status for ceramic artists.(46)

Of these five examples, the last, Munich 2307 is probably the most important. For as Webster himself notes, "This good-humoured boast would not have been written unless Euthymides knew the purchaser".(47) Certainly we must assume that at the very least Euthymides knew that his purchaser would take the pot even if it bore a little private joke.

Thus, although we may be hesitant to see, as Webster does, potters and painters as good friends of their aristocratic patrons, we must allow that artists could, in certain instances, be sure enough of their patron's reactions to allow themselves to risk a little personalized humour. Of course there is one other possible explanation, much less likely, that the patron demanded the remark to denigrate the pottery done by Euphronios for another rival aristocratic patron. In either instance, though, we must presuppose that the patron would not object to the remark or it could not have been made.

Webster goes on to list pots "... where potters greet their friends as kalos and their girlfriends as kale ."(48) Webster cites two cups(49) on which Tlempolemos is named as kalos , though Webster admits it is only "... tempting to suppose that this boy is a young relation"(50) to Tlempolemos, the maker of lip-cups ca. 550 B.C. Citing the Brussels R 349 cup by the Ambrosios painter, Webster suggests that "... the naked boy at a laver... may well be the Tleson who made a cup for Oltos,"(51) but in all these instances we cannot be sure that the names refer to the potters or painters we know, or if they refer to other people with the same name. Webster seems on no firmer ground when he moves on to a discussion of kalos inscriptions where the named kalos is said to seem so to another individual. For example, Webster cites the London E 718 alabastron attributed to Eucheiros, son of Ergotimos, that bears the inscription "Aphrodisia kale . So she seems to Eucheiros" on the body,(52) but even here he is forced to postulate that this Eucheiros is probably a younger relative.

Again the example of the Louvre F 38 black figure hydria that bears the inscription "Andokides seems kalos to Timagoras"(53) is predicated upon the assumption that the Andokides named is one and the same with Andokides the famous potter. It is possible, but once again we are left to deplore the Greek custom of re-using names from grandfather to grandson and uncle to nephew, that continually makes identification of individuals difficult.

Webster goes on to cite the two examples of skyphoi studied by Immerwahr by the Pantoxena Painter bearing the inscription "Pantoxena is kala to Korinthos",(54) but again this is based upon the assumption that Korinthos was the vase-painter, as he may have been, and not simply the commissioner of the vase. A similar reservation must be held for the bell krater by the Nikias Painter that bears the potter's signature with his father's name and deme, also described by Webster,(55) when we ask who painted the scene. Nevertheless, we can assume that, whether the names were affixed to the pots because the artist wished to express the sentiments or not, the eventual purchaser of the pot had to have let the painter know that such messages were acceptable. This presupposes a clear enough picture of the desires, or at least the tolerance of buyers, so that some intercourse between patrons and potters seems likely.

Webster's view of a "golden era" for potters has been challenged, especially by Vickers, but the dedications of Aeschines,(56) Andokides,(57) Euthymides,(58) Euphronios(59) and other potters(60) on the Akropolis do seem to argue that some craftsmen, be they potters or metalworkers, rose to sufficient wealth and prominence to avoid the apparent taint of their professions and make their dedications alongside those of the aristocrats. However, we must again be careful about homonyms. Of the fourteen dedications listed in A. Raubitschek,(61) Webster himself identifies only five as certain and six as probable.(62) Even Webster's distinction of the description kerameus need not clinch the identification with a potter, though it does make it more likely. But, if even one of the dedications is by a potter or painter, then Webster's assertion of acceptance amongst the aristoi must be entertained. How can we reconcile this with the literary evidence?

Giraud wisely cautions us that although ancient writers do give us the impression that banausoi were not highly regarded, we should be careful not to take the sentiments of an elite for the expression of the whole society.(63) Burford also acknowledges the potential distortion that modern historians may be developing by reliance on the literary sources. "Remarks made by Plato or Aristotle, Cicero or Seneca, revealing as they may be of the moralists' and philosophers' attitudes towards the crafts and the manual workers, do not necessarily tell the whole story. Their bias is clear; the question is, to what extent other sections of society subscribed to it."(64) She adds, "That by no means all Greeks considered work degrading in itself becomes clear as one examines the craftsmen's own statements."(65) What, then, are we to make of Lucian's statement and how are we to reconcile it with respected artists? Burford does admit that Lucian derides virtually every occupation and station in life and that this statement may therefore be out of context.(66) It could be that the very selection of such a profession by someone with alternatives is satirical and potentially funny because it was of sufficient status as to make such a choice plausible.

We must remember Cicero who said: "... it was more important for Athenians to have weather-proof roofs over their heads than to possess a gold and ivory statue of Athena; yet I would have preferred to be a Pheidias rather than a master-roofer ... There are few competent painters or sculptors, but no danger of a shortage of porters and labourers."(67) Surely this indicates that even for a novus homo, such as Cicero, who moved in the highest circles of Roman society, the choice was not unthinkable.(68) As parents warn hero-worshipping youth that the glory and wealth of professional athletics is too ephemeral and too unlikely to count on in lieu of more traditional careers, so we can see the writings of Horace as similarly level-headed advice.

Advice not to take a certain station in life makes sense only if the person being advised has any alternatives, and if the choice of an undesirable station is one that has some likelihood of being chosen. Otherwise such advice is redundant.(69) Thus it seems likely that for some aristocrats, or at least fairly well educated young men in antiquity, the choice of "artist" as an occupation could not have been unthinkable. It also indicates that, contrary to our notion about the lack of distinction made in antiquity between craft and fine art, to Cicero, at least, there was some distinction between the status of those identified as artists and those we identify as craftsmen.

This seems to fly in the face of Burford's assessment that, "... it was in no sense inevitable that the silversmith should enjoy a higher standard of life than the cobbler."(70) Does this incongruity support Vicker's hypothesis that the successful potters, who were to make dedications, were in reality silversmiths and metalworkers with considerably more status and respect than the craftsmen who manufactured ceramic ware?(71) Burford says, "Not a single metalworker's dedication is known at Athens. Smiths, like monumental stone-workers, were not as well-to-do as potters, or clothes cleaners, for some reason. And whatever their views of Hephaistos, they have left no word."(72)

As useful a compendium of ancient sources and ancient depictions of ancient craftsmen as Craftsmen in Greek and Roman Society is, there are problems. As Crook said, Burford's appraisal never really addressed "Why did the spoken word, the gift of the gab so enormously dominate classical antiquity?" and why was there "... so different a pecking order in the arts and crafts from that of ourselves?"(73) In Burford's study we are left to wonder why the ancient attitude towards artists was apparently so different. The nagging suspicion that we are not encountering the entire story remains. Whether this is owing to the vagaries of history or to a literary bias on the part of our sources, we must allow that there is a modern reluctance to see ancient artists and craftsmen in such humble roles.

In Antiquity even Plutarch acknowledges that the case of Pheidias must have been somewhat different, for he discusses the prosecution of Pheidias by the enemies of Perikles because he was Perikles' friend.(74) Obviously, whatever banausic taint the sculptor Pheidias might have borne, it did not exclude him from the ranks of not only Perikles' friends, but those friends who were publicly visible enough and treasured enough to make the prosecution of them a ready weapon with which to strike at the unassailable Perikles. Here we have at least one artist with the prerequisite intimacy with those in power to accomplish what Boardman's approach implies. Although this is a fifth century example, it seems likely that sixth century examples would have existed as well.

It seems clear, then, that there must have been two tiers of artists. One was a small elite group who freely associated with their aristocratic patrons in a manner much as described in Webster's Potter and Patron. These artists must have been sufficiently well educated and socially cultured to be accepted into aristocratic circles. They must have been competitors with the poets and philosophers for the favours of the wealthy. This competition might well have resulted in some of the negative comments we have encountered in the writings of the literati.These artists might have included men like Exekias, Smikros, Pheidias, Polykleitos, Iktinos and others learned enough to write treatises about their work or befriend the aristoi . Certainly these men had more opportunity to experiment and develop aesthetics in new directions. Yet even they were dependent upon the goodwill and support, the tolerance and encouragement, of their powerful patrons.

The second group of artists, by far the most numerous, must have been much less socially acceptable among the aristocrats. Denied the dinner time association with the intellectuals and wealthy of the period, they would have been even more dependent upon the demands of patrons. Poorer, with less capability to carry inventory of unsold work, they would naturally have been less adventurous and even more conservative, unless acting under the direct influence of their patrons. Many would be forced to respond to aesthetics already established in the market-place rather than to innovate.

Again we encounter the crucial position of the patron, wherever he might be in our patronage continuum. Athens was a relatively small city that would soon have a democratic form of government. This democracy would be a participatory democracy demanding the approval of the ekklesia before action could be taken. Wealthy and poor would mingle in the market-place and ekklesia . Great wealth, of such as we are told, was relatively recent to Attika. The opening of the silver mines of Laureion in the later sixth and early fifth centuries did create a great influx of metal wealth into Attika and helped build the personal fortunes of both the Peisistratids and Kallias. But it seems unlikely that, for the most part, aristocrats ate only from gold or silver plate. They must have been patronizing the pottery workshops. If the pottery was only reminiscent of metal ware we must wonder why the state in its halcyon days of great wealth still commissioned ceramic Panathenaic ware for prizes in the Panathenaic games.

It seems much more likely that, even if Webster is over-estimating the status of the ancient potter and painter in Athens, and even if many of Burford's observations concerning attitudes towards banausics are accurate, there still was considerable intercourse among all levels of Attic society. Consequently, aristocrats were patrons of potteries and potters and patrons did have to consider what aesthetic and stylistic innovations would be acceptable to the buyers of their wares. When these innovations come to have iconographical or connotative significance as in the case of most pictorial representation, we must look for a source of the knowledge of this significance. This indicates intercourse between potter, painter and patron.

Does this mean there is a one to one equation of political allusion to specific myths? Not necessarily--the complications afforded by appropriation, parody, and changing connotation over time dictate we must examine every instance within its own context if we are to avoid jumping to too hasty conclusions. The difficulty in establishing just what the status of an individual artist may have been has been demonstrated. This is a new avenue of scholarly approach fraught with pot-holes of inaccuracy and beset by a plethora of blind alleys. But let us not immobilize ourselves in our frustration with our own inability to prove anything conclusively.

Despite the fact that we can only deal in probabilities and likelihoods, we should not discard this valuable approach because of its inherent difficulties. Boardman has shown us a new way in which to regard ancient Greek art. We owe him a debt of gratitude for his insight.


1. One of the earliest attempts to link this motif with politica was done by H.R.W. Smith, New Aspects of the Menon Painter, University of California Publications in Classical Archaeology (Berkeley, 1929). In this work Smith attempted to link Epiktetos and his circle with the Peisistratids and the Andokides Painter and his circle with the Alcmaeonids. This early attempt is criticized by Beazley in his review of the book, J.D. Beazley, "Review of New Aspects of the Menon Painter by H.R.W. Smith", JHS 51 (1931), pp. 119-120.

2. J. Boardman, "Herakles, Peisistratos and Sons", RA (1972), pp. 57-72.

3. J. Boardman, "Herakles, Peisistratos and Eleusis", JHS 95 (1975), pp. 4 and 5.

4. J. Boardman, "Herakles, Peisistratos and Sons", RA (1972), pp. 57-72; "Herakles, Peisistratos and Eleusis", JHS 95 (1975), pp. 1-12.

5. Mostly since Boardman's seminal essays on the Peisistratids and Herakles and on Exekias beginning in the early '70s, but even as early as 1929, H.R.W. Smith asserted that the Andokides/Lysippides Painter, Oltos, Euthymides, Phintias and Psiax (the Menon Painter) all held Alkmeonid sympathies. This he based on shield devices linked by Seltman to the Alkmeonidai (See Athens: Its History and its Coinage), the kalos name Megakles and Delphi and Apollo subject matter, see "New Aspects of the Menon Painter" CPCAI i (Berkeley, 1929), pp. 54-57. Smith also asserted that Epiktetos and the artists of his circle held Peisistratid sympathies. These linkages were criticized by J. Beazley in his review of Smith in JHS 51 (1931), p. 120.

6. Warren Moon, "The Priam Painter: Some Iconographic and Stylistic Considerations", in Ancient Greek Art and Iconography, Warren Moon, ed.(Madison, 1983), pp. 97-118, and especially pp. 101-106.

7. Moon, "The Priam Painter", p. 102. Moon mentions one example for Exekias, at least one "near" the E Group and two or so for the Swing Painter.

8. Moon, "The Priam Painter", p. 102

9. Moon, "The Priam Painter", p. 101. One of the anonymous readers of this paper reminds me of the story of the impiety of Perikles and Pheidias for having their likenesses placed on the inside of the shield of the Parthenos (Life of Pericles 31), but it is much later and apocryphal. I am not sure it really applies here, but we should remember that Perikles and his followers were also referred to as "the New Peisistratids" in a similar later apocryphal account. I suspect that assessments of what was considered impious on the basis of these later alleged stories and sources must remain inconclusive. We have no corroboration of either of the incidents, nor a clear indication that what may have been impious to our later source would necessarily have been impious to the fifth or sixth century observer.

10. Moon, "The Priam Painter", p. 101.

11. R.M. Cook, "Pots and Pisistratan Propaganda", JHS 107 (1987), pp. 167-169. (Boardman's reply was published two years later in J. Boardman, "Herakles, Peisistratos, and the Unconvinced", JHS 109 [1989], pp. 158-159.)

12. Cook, "Pots and Pisistratan Propaganda", n. 3, p. 167.

13. "Pots and Pisistratan Propaganda", n. 3, p. 167; he cites J. Bazant, Eirene xviii [1982] pp. 21- 33 and R. Osborne, Hephaistos v/vi [1983/4] pp. 61-70. Bazant argues that current political interpretations are contrary to Greek conceptions of symbolism in art, and Osborne considers the representation of the scenes on Boardman's pots too complex ("'sufficiently excessive') to be political propaganda."

14. Cook, "Pots and Pisistratan Propaganda", p. 167.

15. "Pots and Pisistratan Propaganda", n. 1, p. 114.

16. Mary B. Moore, "Athena and Herakles on Exekias' Calyx- krater", AJA 90 (1986), p. 38, n. 25.

17. Brian F. Cook, "Review of W.G. Moon ed., Ancient Greek Art and Iconography, in the Times Literary Supplement, August 24, 1984, 949 as cited in Moore, "Athena and Herakles", n. 25, p. 38.

18. R.M. Cook, Pots and Pisistratan Propaganda", n. 2, p. 167.

19. J. Boardman, "Unconvinced", JHS 109 (1989), pp. 158 ff.

20. "Unconvinced", p. 158.

21. "Unconvinced", p. 158.

22. "Unconvinced", p. 158.

23. "Unconvinced", p. 158.

24. "Unconvinced", p. 158.

25."Unconvinced", p. 159.

26. W.R. Connor, "Tribes, Festivals and Processions: Civic Ceremonial and Political Manipulation in Archaic Greece", JHS 107, 1987, n. 37, p. 46.

27. "Tribes, Festivals and Processions", p. 45.

28. Boardman, "Unconvinced", n. 4, p. 159.

29. Connor, "Tribes, Festivals and Processions",, p. 45 and n. 30.

30. Moore, "Athena and Herakles", cites two examples by Exekias, Agora A- P 1044. ABV 145m 19; Paralipomena 60, 19 (n. 1, p. 35) and Orvieto, Faina 187, ABV 145; Paralipomena 60, 11 (n. 4, p. 35); three examples contemporary with Exekias: Naples 2460 by the Swing Painter ABV 307, 56; London B211 the namepiece of the Lysippides Painter ABV 256, 14, Paralipomena 113, 14; and New York 12.198.4 in his manner ABV 258, 5, Paralipomena 114, 5. In all of these Athena holds the reins (n. 15, p. 37). She also cites Vatican 319 by the Antimenes Painter ABV 267, 15 and London B321 that is related to him Paralipomena 124, where Herakles holds the reins (n. 16, p. 37). In n. 21, p. 38 she also cites Rhodes 14093 by the Swing Painter ABV 307, 57; Altenburg 216, Paralipomena 116, 31 ter and Princeton 171, ABV 260, 34 in the manner of the Lysippides Painter; Louvre F50 in the manner of the Antimenes Painter, ABV 277, 8 and one related to him, London B 319 Paralipomena 124. She also cites Vatican 357, near the Painter of Vatican G. 43, ABV 264 in n. 24 and finally two early works by the Archippe Painter on round bodied hydria dating from ca. 560 where the procession moves left, Cab. Med. 253, ABV 104, 127, and Boston 67.1006 Paralipomena 43 in n. 26, p. 39.

31. B. Merritt, Hesperia 8 (1939), pp. 59-65.

32. C.W.J. Eliot and Malcolm F. McGregor, "Kleisthenes: Eponymous Archon 525/4 B.C.", Phoenix 14 (1960), pp. 27- 35.

33. Eliot and McGregor, "Kleisthenes: Eponymous Archon 525/4 B.C.", p. 35.

34. Eliot and McGregor, "Kleisthenes: Eponymous Archon 525/4 B.C.", pp. 27-35; and D. Bradeen, "New Fragment?", Hesperia 32 (1963), pp. 187-208, concerning this list. The names included are Oneterides, Hippias, Kleisthenes, Miltiades, Kalliades and perhaps Peisistratos; the dates are 527/6 through 522/1 inclusive.

35. Eliot and McGregor, "Kleisthenes: Eponymous Archon 525/4 B.C.", p. 32.

36. Alison Burford, Craftsmen in Greek and Roman Society, (London, 1972), p. 12.

37. Xenophon, Oeconomicus IV, 2-3. 38. Burford, Craftsmen in Greek and Roman Society, n. 2, p. 220.

39. Lucian of Samosata, Dream I, 8, as cited in Burford, Craftsmen in Greek and Roman Society, p. 12.

40. Plutarch, Life of Pericles 2, i.

41. Burford, Craftsmen in Greek and Roman Society, p. 12.

42. Burford, Craftsmen in Greek and Roman Society, p. 13. Of course these exceptions include the stonemason Socrates as pointed out once again by one of the anonymous readers.

43. T.B.L. Webster, Potter and Patron in Classical Athens, (London, 1972), p. 300.

44. Webster, Potter and Patron in Classical Athens, p. 300.

45. Webster, Potter and Patron in Classical Athens, p. 42.

46. Webster, Potter and Patron in Classical Athens, pp. 42-43. The Munich 89355 kalyx krater by Euphronios that depicts yet another symposion with Smikros in the company of Theodemos, Melas, Suko and Ekphantides. This pot lists Leagros as kalos (this pot is described in Beazley's ARV(2) 1619/3bis 1705). Webster quotes three other instances of "... vases made for other special purposes of the painter or potter"; the Munich 2421 hydria painted by Phintias depicting drinking women, one of whom is toasting Euthymides who sits with his lyre on the main body of the pot along with Tlempolemos, Smikythos and Demetrios (p. 42); the Louvre G41 hydria bearing a greeting to Euthymides and Sostratos on the shoulder with warriors and a chariot, the body bearing a scene of Dionysos and Ariadne, Poseidon and Amphitrite and Hermes (p. 43), On the same page Webster asks "Was one of them going on a sea voyage? and the party a propemptikon ?"; the Munich 2307 amphora (Fig. 5.1) by Euthymides upon which is written "As never Euphronios" over a scene of the Departure of Hektor. The three revellers portrayed on the back are Komarchos, Teles and Heledemos (p. 43).

47. Webster, Potter and Patron in Classical Athens, pp. 42-43.

48. Webster, Potter and Patron in Classical Athens, pp. 43-44.

49. Webster, Potter and Patron in Classical Athens, pp. 43-44, ARV(2) 1625/52 where "... he may himself be represented as a dancer, with Hipparchos as a dancer on the other side of the cup" and ARV(2) 1699, Orvieto, where "... 'Tlempolemos kalos ' is written over a panther."

50. Webster, Potter and Patron in Classical Athens, pp. 43-44.

51. Webster, Potter and Patron in Classical Athens, pp. 43-44.

52. Webster, Potter and Patron in Classical Athens, pp. 43-44, ARV(2) 306, as cited in n. 5.

53. Webster, Potter and Patron in Classical Athens, p. 44.

54. Webster, Potter and Patron in Classical Athens, p. 44, ARV(2) 1050/1-2.

55. Webster, Potter and Patron in Classical Athens, p. 44.

56. Antony E. Raubitschek, Dedications from the Athenian Akropolis (Cambridge, 1949), no. 48, p. 50.

57. Raubitschek, Dedications, no. 178, pp. 213-216.

58. Raubitschek, Dedications, no. 150, pp. 168-169; see also pp. 522-523.

59. Raubitschek, Dedications, no 225, pp. 255-258.

60. For example, the potter Nearchos' dedication of kore by Antenor: Raubitschek, Dedications, no, 197, pp. 232-233.

61. Raubitschek, Dedications, nos. 30, 42, 44, 48, 53, 70, 92, 178, 184, 197, 209, 220, 225, 291 are discussed in Webster. In all, Raubitschek lists some 29 dedications by manufacturers of pottery, p. 465, add 64, 150, 355, 179, 224, 244, 217, 349, 350, 351, 352, 353, 357, 358 but Webster disallows #217 Onesimos and those which go with it because "it is difficult to be certain whether the dedicator is a potter or not," Webster, Potter and Patron in Classical Athens*, p. 5, n. 1.

62. Webster, Potter and Patron in Classical Athens*, p. 5, certain (44, 70, 178, 197, 225), probable (30, 42, 48, 92, 209, 220).

63. "On croit volontiers que le travail, surtout le travail industriel, etait fort pue estime chez les Grecs, et qu'ils affectaient de l'envisager comme une besogne d'esclave. Les auteurs anciens, en effet, nous offrent un grande nombre de textes dans ce sens-la. Mais il faut bien se garder de prendre toujours pour l'expression d'un sentiment general les affirmations des quelques esprits d'elite. S'il est interessant de noter ce que disent des gens de metier Platon et Aristotle, il est encore preferable, du moins pour l'historien, de se demander quelles etaient a ce sujet les idees courantes... Au contraire, la voix des philosophes et des moralistes de l'antiquite arrive directement jusqu'a nous, et comme elle parle avec clarite et avec autorite, elle a peu de peine a couvrir les bruits vagues et confus ou se trahit obscurement l'opinion de la multitude" -- Paul Guiraud, La Main-d'oeuvre Industrielle Dans L'ancienne Grece, (Paris, 1900), p. 37.

64. Burford, Craftsmen in Greek and Roman Society, p. 25.

65. Burford, Craftsmen in Greek and Roman Society, p. 25.

66. Burford, Craftsmen in Greek and Roman Society, n. 3, p. 220.

67. Cicero, Life of Brutus, p. 257.

68. One is reminded of the modern situation for professional athletes. Some attain fame, fortune and association with the elites of the world. But for every Wayne Gretsky who gets his portrait done by Andy Warhol, there are scores of young men who make a living in a difficult trade for a short time, then slip into anonymity.

69. Still, there are the few "superstars" and there will be potential doctors who would rather shoot baskets than study. Perhaps it was the same in antiquity regarding the arts.

70. Burford, Craftsmen in Greek and Roman Society, p. 23.

71. See Michael Vickers, "Artful Crafts: The Influence of Metalwork on Athenian Painted Pottery", JHS 55 (1985), pp. 108-128.

72. Burford, Craftsmen in Greek and Roman Society, p. 171.

73. J.A. Crook, "Review of Alison Burford, Craftsmen in Greek and Roman Society,, Antiquity 47 (1973), p. 68. See also Wittkower, Born Under Saturn, p. 2 tells us of "a volte-face among artists similar to that in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries... originating in the second half of the fifth century and gaining momentum in the fourth..." and p. 3 tells of the development of the ideal of the learned painter in antiquity and of Duris of Samos' book on the Lives of the Painters and Sculptors, of ca. 300 B.C.

74. Plutarch, Life of Perikles 32.

K. Cavalier,

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Electronic Antiquity Vol. 2 Issue 5 - March 1995
edited by Peter Toohey and Ian Worthington
ISSN 1320-3606
by Kaavya Giridhar