Birth of Athena from the head of Zeus
Red-figure pelike. Attic.
Attributed to the Painter of the Birth of Athena.
Ca. 460—450 BCE.
H. 41.5, diam. 31 cm.
Inv. No. 1849,0620.14.London, British Museum

Birth of Athena from the head of Zeus.

Red-figure pelike. Attic.
Attributed to the Painter of the Birth of Athena.
Ca. 460—450 BCE.
H. 41.5, diam. 31 cm.
Inv. No. 1849,0620.14.

London, British Museum.

From Vulci.
Purchased through Harry Osborn Cureton.
Purchased from W. Hope (sale).
Previous owner/ex-collection: Edmé Antoine Durand.
Previous owner/ex-collection: Beugnot.
Pottery: red-figured pelike.

(a) Birth of Athene. In the centre Zeus seated en face on a throne, the legs of which have Ionic capitals; below the volutes is a band of dotted chequer pattern; below this a star, and an ornament consisting of a double palmette. It has a high cross-rail on which the feet of Zeus rest. He is bearded and has long hair looped up and wreathed with laurel; he extends his right arm to the left (only the thumb and two first fingers are shown) and looks to the right, holding upright in his left hand his sceptre. Over him is inscribed ΙΕΥΣ, Zeus. From his head springs a diminutive figure of Athene running to right, with right foot thrown back, long hair, high crested helmet with cheek-pieces, long tied chiton, and aegis with fringe of snakes, which she extends on her left arm as a shield; in her right hand she carries her spear couched. Over her is inscribed ΑΘΕΝΑ, Αθήνα. On the left of Zeus, Hephaestos, a bearded wreathed figure in a short tied chiton, carrying his double-headed axe over his left shoulder, moves away, looking up at Athene, and raising his right hand with a gesture of surprise; he has short rough hair and beard. Over him, ΕΦΑΙΣΤΟΣ, Ἡφαιστοσ. On the left Poseidon stands, looking on, a bearded figure in a long sleeved chiton and himation, with his trident along his right arm, and hair falling to his neck, confined with a fillet (left red); above him ΠΟΣΕΙΔΟΝ, Ποσειδών. On the right of Zeus Eileithyia moves away, looking back, in an attitude parallel to that of Hephaestos; she has a Doric chiton with apoptygma and a border down the side, a girdle with trefoil ends, and her hair is looped up with a fillet (left red); above her is inscribed (retr.) Ἐίλείθυια. On the right Artemis, with long hair passed through a roll, long sleeved chiton with apoptygma, bracelets, and a fillet, approaches, looking up at Athene, and raises her right hand with a gesture of surprise. In her left, hanging, at her side, is a bow. Above her (retr.) Ἀρτεμις.

Beneath the left handle Nike, a small winged figure in long sleeved chiton and himation with embattled border, approaches rapidly, holding out her right hand.

(b) Continuation of a. On the right two figures move to the right. The first is a draped youthful figure with hair looped up over his ears and wearing a wreath. The second is Dionysos, bearded, with long wavy hair wreathed with ivy, a long sleeved chiton and himation, and holding a thyrsos upright in his left hand; over him is inscribed ΔΙΟΝΥΣΟΣ, Δίονυσος. He looks back at a bearded, draped man, bald on the crown, and wearing a wreath, who stands en face, resting his right on a staff, but who looks at Dionysos. On the left an old man stands to left, draped in a bordered mantle, and resting his right on a staff; his hair and beard have been indicated in white, which is now nearly faded. The surface around the heads of these two figures has been injured and revarnished. On the bottom of the foot a monogram is painted in black glazed colour.

Large style. Purple wreath of Hephaestos and youth in b and berries and stalk of wreaths of Zeus and Dionysos; also berries of thyrsos, fillets, bracelets, and inscriptions. White hair of old man in b. Brown inner markings, ends of hair and beard, pupil of eye, and folds of Athene’s chiton. Eye in developed profile type, with eyelashes above and along lower lid. Below, a continuous band, pairs of maeanders set alternate ways, separated by red cross squares. Above each side, a band of palmettes; the design in a overlaps the upper border.

Cat. Beugnot, no. I;
cf. Bull. dell’ Inst. 1834, p. 12, and 1838, p. 53.
Gerhard, A. V. i, pl. 3-4, p. 6;
Él. Cér. i, pll. 64—65, p. 211;
Birch, Anc. Pottery2, plate facing p. 203;
Harrison and Verrall, p. 433, fig. 39;
Roscher, s. v. Hephaistos, p. 2062 (left hand group in a);
Forchhammer, Die Geburt der Ath. plate;
Schneider, Geburt der Athena, p. 11;
Overbeck, Kunstmyth. (Zeus, p. 181, A; Poseidon, p. 309, o);
Loeschcke in Arch. Zeit. 1876, p. 118;
Heydemann in Rhein. Mus. N.F. 36, p. 466, n. 4;
Kretschmer, Vaseninschr. p. 157;
C. I. Gr. 7403.
For the monogram on the foot, see Old Catalogue, pl. B741*.
(cc) 2019. Photo, text: The British Museum (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).
© The Trustees of the British Museum.
Keywords: κεραμικά ceramics clay terracotta ceramica keramik céramique ελληνική μυθολογία mythologia graeca greek mythology mitologia greca griechische mythologie grecque ἄρτεμις dea artemis goddess artemide göttin déesse artémis θεά αθηνά παλλὰς ἀθηνᾶ ἀθήνη athene athena pallas atena athéna athéné ζεύς δίας zeus θεός ποσειδῶν posidon poseidon god dio poseidone posidone gott dieu poséidon ελλάδα grecia graecia hellas greece griechenland grèce ήφαιστος ἥφαιστος hephaistos hephaestus efesto héphaïstos technique tecnica vasenmalerei αττική attika attica attic attique ερυθρόμορφος red figure red-figure red-figured a rosse rotfigurige rotfiguriger à figures rouges πελίκη pelike péliké pélikè εἰλείθυια ἐλεύθυια ειλείθυια ειλειθυία ilithyia eileithyia eleuthyia eleuthia ilizia eilithia eilythia ilithia eileithyiai ilithyie armilla bracelet braccialetto bracciale armband armreif armspange spange βραχιόλι corona laurea laurel wreath di alloro laureata lorbeerkranz couronne de lauriers δάφνινο στεφάνι armour armor armatura rüstung armure πανοπλία crista crest crested helmet elmo crestato kammhelm casque crête κράνος λοφίο κρωβύλος κρώβυλος chiton khiton chitone χιτών barba barbatum beard bearded man uomo barbuto bart bärtiger mann barbe homme barbu γενειάδα γενειοφόρος άνθρωπος hasta spear lancia speer lance δόρυ taenia tainia band ribbon fillet tenia tänie binden tænia ténia ταινία aegis aigis ègida egida ägis égide αἰγίς αιγίδα αιγίς sceptrum sceptre scettro zepter σκήπτρο palmette palmetta thronus seated on the throne enthroned sits siede in assiso su un trono sitzt auf einem thron assis sur trône καθισμένοι σε θρόνο θρόνος meander meandros meandro mäander méandre μαίανδρος bow arco bogen arc τόξο fuscina tridens trident tridente dreizack apoptygma labrys bipennis double-headed axe ascia doppio taglio bipenne doppelaxt amazonenaxt hache double tranchant λάβρυς star stella stern l’étoile vulci from viterbo doric dorico dorische cross croce kreuz croix with long sleeves sleeved maniche lunghe mit langen ärmeln manches longues painter of birth pittore della nascita maler der geburt peintre la naissance d’athéna head inv no 1849,0620.14 e 410~