Terracotta stamnos (jar)

Attributed to the Menelaos Painter

Period: Classical

Date: ca. 450 B.C.

Culture: Greek, Attic

Medium: Terracotta; red-figure

Dimensions: H. 14 7/8 in. (37.8 cm)
diameter 11 7/8 in. (30.2 cm)

Classification: Vases

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1906

Accession Number: 06.1021.178


On this red-figure stamnos, a vase for keeping and carrying wine, wine, women, and song are integrated into an exceptionally rhythmical composition with maenads, devotees of Dionysos, celebrating a Bacchic festival. Their elongated figures in fluidly pleated garments move slowly forward around one side and stand still on the other. Typically, they are celebrating the power of Dionysos in song, music, and dance. Their instruments, drinking cups, torches, and thyrsoi (fennel stalks) introduce variety into a composition that might otherwise appear stiff. One maenad plays the aulos (a double-reed wind instrument), her cheeks puffed out, a second one plays the lyre, while a third carries a thyrsos and holds a kylix (shallow drinking cup) by the its foot as she opens her mouth to sing. Of the four additional maenads, one holds a thyrsos, the next holds a skyphos (deep drinking cup), the third plays the aulos, and the last holds a lighted torch.