hydria exemplifies the qualities of harmony and SYMMETRY
highly prized by the Greeks. The orderly designs conform to the
different parts of the vessel and accentuate its well-balanced,
harmonious proportions. The largest figures are on the main body
of the pot, while smaller figures decorate the shoulder. The figures
make up scenes that illustrate episodes in Greek mythology. Because
the Greeks thought of their gods and goddesses as having human characteristics
and emotions, it is almost impossible to tell the difference between
the gods and humans in this scene. However, certain ATTRIBUTES
identified the most popular figures to Greeks who knew their stories.
(a-THEE-na) appears at the far left in her role as the goddess of
war, wearing full armor: plumed helmet, spear, and the protective
furry goatskin given to her by her father Zeus. As attendants harness
her horses she prepares to set off in her chariot. Standing in the
center of the scene, facing Athena, is HERAKLES
(HAIR-a-kleez), with a red beard and the short curly hair of an
athlete. The figure on his right is HERMES
(HER-meez), who is identified by his pointed traveling hat, long
red beard, and a traveling staff which he carries in his left hand.
Painters in the late sixth century B.C. typically colored all women's
skin white and painted the men in black. The human body is shown
in profile or in combinations of frontal and profile views. For
example, we see Athena and the horses strictly from the side, but
Herakles' torso is shown from the front and his head is shown in
profile. A sense of depth is achieved by the overlapping of figures.
Notice how the horses overlap each other and in turn overlap some
of the male figures, including Herakles and Hermes. The clothing
is indicated by stylized patterns.