The Canadian Institute in Greece
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Lecture by Jeffrey Banks

March 15, 2023 @ 19:00 21:00

Jeffrey Banks (Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Classics, University of Cincinnati)

“The Return of Achilles and the Cassandra Complex: An ‘Iliadic’ Reading of the Foundry Painter Name-Vase”

In 1835, excavators recovered a Late Archaic (490–480 BCE) Attic Red-Figure type-B kylix from a tomb in Vulci, currently in the Berlin Antikensammlung collection.  Studies of the vessel have focused on the scenes of a bronze foundry workshop decorating the exterior of the cup, which are used to reconstruct the style(s) of Late Archaic bronze statues and bronze casting technologies and techniques. The foundry scenes are so well-known in scholarship that Sir John Beazley used the “Berlin Foundry Cup” as the name-vase for his “Foundry Painter”.

Far less attention has been paid to the interior tondo scene beyond the identification of the mythological narrative represented thereupon. The tondo scene is almost universally accepted as a representation of Hephaestus giving the newly smithed arms for Achilles to Thetis.

In this presentation, J. Banks reexamines the tondo scene on the Berlin Foundry Cup and the use of shield motifs by Archaic–Early Classical Greek vase painters. Banks argues that the depiction of the famous mythological scene represents one of the more plausible instances on Greek pottery where a potter’s familiarity with a “literary” version of a mythic narrative can be demonstrated. It is posited that the Foundry Painter’s original intention was to provide a key to interpreting the scene as an “Iliadic” narrative, suggesting, in a single image, an incredible amount of narrative depth in an almost synoptic narrative manner, and referencing the Return of Achilles. A new reading of the tondo scene on the Berlin Foundry Cup impacts our understanding of shields and shield motifs painted on Greek pottery, their narrative potential in Greek figural art, and craftsperson–viewer audience discourse.

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