Attic white lekythos, attributed to the Achilles Painter, 450-440 BC.
Back in the day I studied a Greek Art and Architecture unit taught by the awe-inspiring Prof. John Melville-Jones. Is there anything about the Classical world that this man does not know?
I think not.
Anyhow, he introduced me to the wider world of Greek art and I fell in love even more with this period in time. He would bring his own collection of artefacts in for us to touch and explore. I loved his classes (he also taught me Latin and Ancient Greek but we won’t talk about that because I suck at languages) and worked really hard in them.
In one class he talked about the Achilles Painter, named such due to a remarkable depiction of our favourite lion-wearing hero. I was touched by the fine lines, the detail, the emotion of his work. I wanted more. I did my own research and discovered the most remarkable vase.
The vase depicts a warrior taking leave of his wife before going off to war. He is offering his helmet to her as she sits, not moving, not speaking, but still strong and brimming with emotion. I find the expression in their faces overwhelming. It is so simple and strong. Whenever I look at this vase I can feel my heart break. What is he saying to her? Why doesn’t she speak up and tell him that she wants him to stay? Can she say such a thing? Or does it not need to be spoken because of the connection between them?