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Lecture 9

CLA204H1F Lecture 9

Course Code
Jarrett Welsh

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CLA204H1F L9; Nov 8, 2012
Theseus & Procrustes
RF Kylix
The Labours of Theseus: detail of Procrustes
The Codrus Painter
Ca. 440430 BC
London, British Museum E84
Vase above:
o Theseus looks young & heroic, swingly ax confidently
against opponent
o Opponent looks less heroic, older, shaggy unkept beard
No markers of civilization, doesn’t show confident
o Contrasts btwn them = intentional to convey
superiority of Athens & Athenians compared to other
Theseus & Athens
Stories of Theseus invented so that Athens (well grown, by
500-600BC) would have a hero
Know the story was fabricated by Athenians
Have so much evidence for the story
Much Greek literature & art from Athens
Local Labours
How they used him to convey ideas about Athenian
superiority & their dominance over neighbouring cities
Have other versions of stories told by non-Athenians
How to invent him
Red-figure kylix tondo
Aegeus and the Pythia
The Kodros Painter
Ca. 440430 BC
Berlin, Antikensammlungen F2538
Messiness of earlier generations of lengendary past , ex. Argos,
Jumping over several generations to Aegeus takes over as
king of Athens
Has married twice ut produced no children consuted oracle
at Delphi tells him not to undue the wine-skin’s mouth til
he returned home took a detour to visit wiseman Pythias
king of Troezen to ask what oracle meant
o If Aegeus got drunk, would produce a child
o The child would eventually be the king of Athens
o Pythias got Aegeus drunk so he’d sleep w his daughter
o Vase painting = ominous moment
Since slept w unmarried daughter,
o If the child was a boy, raise him without telling who
father was, then send to Athens when older
o Left sword & sandals under a rock once could lift it, go
to Athens to show is son of king
Sword & Sandals

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Terracotta ‘Campana’ plaque
Theseus lifting the rock
First century BCFirst century AD
London, British Museum 1893,0628.5
© Trustees of the British Museum
Theseus lifting to rock to find the sword & sandals of Aegeus
His mother behind him
Geography of legend: Delphi to Troezen to Athens
o Easy & direct to go from Delphi to Athens
o But instead goes to northeast Peloponnese to Troezan
o Somewhat strange to take this kind of detour absurd
tells us story invented
o Aegeus need to be in Troezen to be connected w it by
having a son born there so need the detour
o So can tell Theseus was originally a hero of Troezen, but
not originally a son of Aegeus; was found as a minor
candidate to be Athen’s hero Athens invented this
detour of the king
o So Athenians inventing an earier legend about the
paternity of Theseus to connect him to Athens
Route to Athens labour of deeds along the way
o Troezen Epidaurus Isthmus Crommyon
Megara Eleusis Athens
o Took a long dangerous land route instead of the short sea
o Conscious choice is telling the story this way gives the
hero his challenges
o Theseus not just stolen by the Athenians, but also
elevated by them (given a more challenging set of
Deeds of Theseus: Troezen to Athens
Red-figure kylix
The Labours of Theseus
The Codrus Painter
Ca. 440430 BC
London, British Museum E84
© Trustees of the British Museum
Depiction of Theseus & opponents fundamental contrasts
Red-figure kylix
1. Theseus & Periphetes (right) [Theseus & Sciron@left]
The Pistoxenos Painter
Ca. 475425 BC
Munich, Staatliche Antikensammlungen 2670
1: Murder the robber Periphetes
o Kills him at city of Epidaurus
o Periphetes likes to murder ppl w a club
o Heracles’ first labour was also a a characteristic club,
then wore a lion skin after
So Theseus’ first labour is meant to connect w
Theseus often carries this club that he killed
Periphetes w

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2, 3. Theseus & Sinis, and the Crommyonian Sow
Red-figure kylix
Theseus and Sinis
The Penthesilea Painter
Ca. 470460 BC
London, British Museum E74
© Trustees of the British Museum
The same vase has an image of the Crommyonian Sow.
2. Sinis capture victims used pine trees to kill them (two
trees pushing into a person
o Theseus has no problem defeating him
o Uses the pinetrees
o Theseus bending over the tree, the robber clinging
desperately to it
3. Crommyonian Sow terrorized many of Crommyon
o A woman/witch (on right) claimed she was responsible
for the sow
o Sometimes Theseus kills the old woman who controls the
sow/pig sounds like the other 5 local deeds of Heracles
4. Theseus & Sciron
Red-figure kylix
Theseus and Sciron
Ca. 485-480 BC
London, British Museum E48
© Trustees of the British Museum
Theseus kills the robber Sciron captured travellers at the
cliffs of Sciron
o Made every traveller who passed by wash his feet
(strange thing to do)
o While they’re bent over washing his feet, he kicks them
over the cliff eaten by man-eating turtle (tiny on the
o Theseus about to throw Sciron off the ciff
o Theseus looks like a good Greek hero, Sciron looks
5. Theseus & Cercyon
Red-figure kylix
Labours of Theseus (Cercyon at centre)
Near to the Painter of Louvre G 36
Ca. 520510 BC
London, British Museum E36
© Trustees of the British Museum
Centre: Theseus fighting Cercyon bandit who fights
travellers, ambiguous, like the other 4 local labours is a local
figure (of Eleusis)
Theseus picking Ceryon up about to smash him into ground
to kill him
Cercyon compels travellers to wrestle him had killed many
ppl in this way
6. Theseus & Procrustes
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