AIA lecture by John Oakley (Chancellor Professor and Forrest D. Murden Jr. Professor in the Department of Classical Studies, College of William and Mary in Virginia).
Greek painted vases from Athens are our richest and most complex source of images from ancient Greece. Traditionally, they have been grouped together as either scenes of myth or pictures of daily life, with most of the scholarly attention being paid to myth. This lecture will examine not only the different types of subjects connected with daily life that are illustrated on these vases, but will also note subjects not found, such as scenes of cooking or cleaning, activities probably left to slaves.
Scholars are currently divided as to how great the documentary value of vase-paintings is for determining the reality of ancient life in Athens, and the question of whether the vase-paintings are accurate reflections of different aspects of ancient life or pure fantasy has not been answered definitively. Indeed, often multiple interpretations for the same type of scene have been put forth. This lecture will shed light on this question and attempt to solve the quandary.