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by Archaeology Newsroom

The Representations of the Attic Vases: Some Thoughts

If we want to understand the meaning of the representations decorating the fifth century BC Attic vases, we have to analyze them in their entirety and details. These representations, under a fictitious simplicity, develop an ensemble of indications that cause the intervention of time, which controls the narration. For this reason, there are more than one concepts of time in these depictions, the one of the narration, the other of the myth, which are transferred in the time of use of the vessel.

This absence of temporality must be contrasted with the successive decorative bands of some vases, which are embellished with a series of boats or dolphins in the sea, in the water that is, which not only is represented on, but also contained in the actual vessel. In this multiplication of the subject, the smouldering rotation -that has marked the vase during its manufacturing and can be read through the rhythms of plasticity- transmits a motion to the dolphins and boats, eternally floating on the water, the water that is mixed with and scented by the wine. However, the movement created by the game of kottavos. that is the actual rotation around the handle, this time invalidates the repetition. Thus, the unit becomes a substitute for the successive series.

Finally, we wonder whether the optical illusion of motion is intentional or not. If the answer is positive, then we reach the conclusion that the potters/painters of the Attic vases have invented after all the cinema, even before it was actually invented.