Adonis, his representations in South Italian Vase-painting

by Jacques Chamay (Volume editor) Jean-Paul Descoeudres (Volume editor)
©2018 Monographs XVI, 138 Pages


Adonis, the beautiful youth, born of the myrrh tree, loved by both Aphrodite and Persephone, hardly needs any introduction. His legend, of Oriental origin, spread early and rapidly to Greece and Italy. In Athens, his cult is attested as early as the 5th century, though representations of him in the arts remain surprisingly rare. Not so in South Italy, where from the early 4th century on his myth inspired some of the greatest vase-painters, especially in Apulia.
As the present systematic and richly illustrated analysis of his representations in South Italian Vase-painting, shows, Adonis played in Magna Graecia a much more important role than had hitherto been suspected.
Internationally recognized as the expert on South Italian Vase-painting, Alexander Cambitoglou has co-authored with Arthur Dale Trendall the fundamental work on its main school: The Red-figured Vases of Apulia, I: Early and Middle Apulian (1978) and II: Late Apulian (1982), and First and Second Supplement to The Red-figured Vases of Apulia (1983 and 1991). With Chr. Aellen and J. Chamay he has published Le peintre de Darius et son milieu in 1986 and again with J. Chamay in 1997, Céramique de Grande Grèce. La collection de fragments H. A. Cahn, and in 2006 Le don de la vigne: vase antique du baron Edmond de Rothschild (Matteo Campagnolo co-author). More recently, the two first Australian CVA fascicules have appeared in which he presents, with M. Turner as co-author, the collection of red-figured pottery from Apulia held by The University of Sydney’s Nicholson Museum (fasc. 1: 2008, 2: 2014). His work on Adonis’ plants has just come out in J. Chamay’s translation: Les plantes d’Adonis. Essai (Etudes genevoises sur l’Antiquité. Cahiers vol. 2, 2018).

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title Page
  • Copyright
  • About the authhor
  • Dedication
  • Contents
  • Editor’s Foreword
  • Abbreviations
  • Introduction: the Legend
  • Chapter 1: Arbitration by Zeus or Kalliope
  • a. Pelike Naples Stg. 702
  • b. Amphora once Potenza, coll. Amati
  • c. Loutrophoros New York 11.210.3
  • d. Volute-krater coll. Corrêa do Lago
  • e. Volute-krater New York market
  • f. Volute-krater Naples Stg. 687
  • g. Pelike San Simeon 5609
  • Chapter 2: Adonis dying
  • a. Pelike Naples Stg. 702
  • Chapter 3: Adonis in the Underworld
  • a. Volute-krater St Petersburg ƃ1716
  • b. Volute-krater Karlsruhe B4
  • c. Volute-krater New York market
  • d. Lebes gamikos Paestum 21135
  • Chapter 4: Adonis and Persephone
  • a. Dish Naples 2541
  • b. Pelike Naples 3224
  • c. Pelike Naples Stg. 692
  • d. Pelike Turin 4149
  • e. Volute-krater Basel market
  • f. Volute-krater Boston 1970.235
  • Chapter 5: Adonis with Persephone in Aphrodite’s presence
  • a‒b. Pelike London BM 1867,0508.1323 (F308)
  • c. Pelike Osaka, coll. Oka 22
  • d. Pelike Copenhagen VIII 287
  • e. Pelike Geneva, coll. Chamay
  • f. Pelike New York market
  • g. Pelike Compiègne 963
  • Chapter 6: Adonis’ anodos
  • a. Volute-krater Emblem, coll. Moonen
  • b. Lebes gamikos Sydney NM83.4
  • Chapter 7: Adonis’ anodos with Aphrodite
  • a. Calyx-krater Rome, Villa Giulia 42898
  • b. Volute-krater Baltimore 48.86
  • c. Pelike Naples Stg. 692
  • d. Fragment volute-krater Zürich, Arch. Coll. of the University 7384
  • e. Pelike Naples H 2196
  • Chapter 8: Aphrodite’s anodos
  • a. Dish Ruvo 1613
  • b. Neck-amphora Paestum 20303
  • c. Hydria Kiel B 562
  • d. Volute-krater New York 17.120.240
  • e. Oinochoe Melbourne D28/1979
  • f. Volute-krater once Swiss private collection
  • Chapter 9: Adonis on Mount Olympos
  • a. Calyx-krater Montesarchio, Mus. Naz. Sannio Caudino
  • Chapter 10: Adonis (standing) and Aphrodite (seated)
  • a. Pyxis Basel BS 478
  • b. Pelike Paris, Cab. des Médailles 905
  • c. Pelike Bari, coll. Macinagrossa 29
  • d. Squat lekythos London BM 1867,0508.1193 (F400)
  • e. Pelike London BM 1836,0224.150 (F310)
  • f. Lebes gamikos New York 17.46.2
  • g. Amphora once New York market
  • Chapter 11: Adonis offering a hare (or a bird) to Aphrodite
  • a. Lebes gamikos Taranto 8893
  • b. Lebes gamikos Genoa 1201
  • c. Pelike Berlin F 4126
  • d. Pelike Vatican Y23 (18129)
  • e. Squat lekythos New York 28.57.10
  • f. Pelike Taranto 227.685
  • Chapter 12: Adonis musicus with Aphrodite
  • a. Pyxis lid Basel BS 478
  • b. Pyxis Hamburg 1876.286
  • c. Pelike fragment Malibu 86 AE 404
  • d. Oinochoe once Swiss market
  • e. Squat lekythos London BM 1867,0508.1194 (F399)
  • f. Oinochoe Bari, coll. Lagioia
  • g. Dish once Geneva market
  • Chapter 13: Aphrodite musica with Adonis
  • a. Lebes gamikos Munich, private collection
  • Chapter 14: Adonis and Aphrodite as lovers
  • a. Krater fragment Taranto 133.204
  • b. Pelike London, Vic&Alb Mus. 2493-1910
  • c. Pelike Vicenza F.G.-00649A-E/IS
  • d. Pelike Taranto 4622
  • e. Squat lekythos Munich 3271
  • f. Pelike Matera 11671
  • g. Pelike Naples coll. Catalano
  • h. Pelike Bari 3720
  • i. Pelike fragment Berlin F 4127
  • j. Pelike once Frankfurt market
  • k. Pelike once London market
  • l. Pelike Turin 4129
  • m. Pelike Pulsano, coll. Guarini
  • n. Lebes gamikos Bari, coll. Macinagrossa
  • o. Pelike Naples Stg. 395
  • p. Lebes gamikos Naples Stg. 599
  • q. Pelike Taranto 4619
  • r. Lebes gamikos Basel BS 479
  • s. Lebes gamikos Paris, Cab. des Médailles 953
  • t. Squat lekythos London BM 1867,0508.1192 (F108)
  • u. Pelike Cremona, Mus. Archeologico D46
  • v. Pelike Boston 10.234
  • Chapter 15: Aphrodite mourning
  • a. Squat lekythos Naples 2900
  • Chapter 16: Myrte mourning
  • a. Skyphos Agrigento 10969
  • b. Kantharos Bari, coll. Sette Labellarte
  • c. Skyphoid pyxis La Louvière, coll. Anciaux
  • Chapter 17: Adonis banqueting with Dionysos
  • a. Bell-krater Paris, Samarcande Gallery
  • b. Dinos Basel S 33
  • c. Kylix Paestum 21369
  • Chapter 18: Echoes – Eros rising from the Underworld
  • a. Plate Paris 1283
  • Summary note (Jacques Chamay)
  • Photograph Credits
  • Plates 1–35


Some years ago, Alexander Cambitoglou and Michael Turner, then Senior Curator of the University of Sydney’s Nicholson Museum, were working on the collection’s red-figure pottery from Apulia to be published in the first Australian volume of the CVA. During the frequent discussions between the two scholars, the uniqueness of the scene representing Adonis’ anodos on the lebes gamikos inv. 83.4 (see below, entry 6b) and the need for a full iconographic study of the god in South Italian vase-painting became increasingly clear, and in 2003 Beatrice McLoughlin was appointed as research assistant to the project, with the particular remit to gather and examine the ancient literary sources and scrutinize all previous work relevant to the topic.

Once the CVA volume was finalized—it came out in 2008—, Alexander continued on his own, residing (in his capacity of Director of the Australian Archaeological Institute) partly in Sydney, partly in Athens. In Athens, he usually worked in the library of the British School, but often took advantage of his Greek sojourns to travel throughout Europe, and paid regular visits to our common, long-standing friend and colleague Jacques Chamay in Geneva.

On one of these occasions, the idea arose to combine forces, to finalize the work together, and to publish it, translated into French by Jacques, in the series Hellas et Roma. However, by the time I returned to Sydney in 2017, Alexander had begun to wonder whether the idea might not take too long to materialize, and it was decided to proceed in two stages. The chapters concerning the plants with which Adonis is associated, which Jacques had already translated, were to be published in French as a separate booklet in the recently created series Etudes genevoises sur l’Antiquité, under the title Les plantes d’Adonis.

The remainder of the work presented itself as a rather formidable collection of partly elaborate, partly sketchy, notes and descriptions. What was left to be done was to turn them into a coherent whole—a challenge for which Alexander felt he no longer had the necessary strength. When he asked me to take over I was happy to oblige and thus gain an opportunity to repay, albeit in a very modest measure, a debt of gratitude I owe him since my appointment in 1973 as a temporary lecturer in the Department of Archaeology, which he was directing at that time.

Mindful of the fact that time is of the essence I have limited my editorial interventions to deleting unnecessary repetitions and to modifying descriptions that were based on old photographs of vases which in the meantime have been restored and/or cleaned and for which new reproductions have become available. The references that precede each entry are not meant to be exhaustive bibliographies. When a vase is listed in RVAp—which is the case for the vast majority of them—no work prior to 1992 (i.e. the publication date of the 3rd of its supplementary volumes) is listed; at the same time, no attempt has been made to systematically update the references beyond 2007.

A major effort has been put into the illustrative part of the book, and I owe much thanks to Charlotte Kowalski for assisting me to obtain almost all illustrations I felt were needed. I express my gratitude to all institutions and private collectors who have provided us with images and given us permission to publish them. Special thanks are due to Christoph Reusser, not only for letting me know that the fragment with the inscribed representation of Adonis (one of the only two) formerly in Hans Jucker’s collection in Berne is now in the collection of the University of Zurich (see entry 7d), but also for allowing us to place its picture on the front cover. Among the few vases which we regret not to be able to illustrate, despite repeated attempts, are the volute-krater St Petersburg Б 1716 (entry 3a), the pelike in the Guarini collection (14m), and the kantharos in the Sette Labellarte collection (16b). Equally regrettably, the whereabouts of the volute-krater once on the Basel market (4e) remain unknown.

My sincere thanks for helping me to finalize the volume go first of all to Jacques Chamay. Without his unfailing help and generous advice the project had no chance of succeeding. For checking all references to and quotes of the ancient literary sources and for providing the necessary translations I am most grateful to Elodie Paillard, and I thank Ana Silkatcheva for the verification of countless bibliographical references.

For the final stages in the production of the book I am thankful first of all to the Genevan association ‘Hellas et Roma’, and particularly its president Jacques-Simon Eggly, for agreeing to incorporate it as its 18th volume in the series Hellas et Roma—the first volume to appear in a language other than French! Thanks are due to Derek Harrison in Sydney for the final checking and to Céline von Tobel in Geneva for the layout of the volume.

Sydney, 29 May 2018

Jean-Paul Descoeudres


Aellen 1994 Ch. Aellen, A la recherche de l’ordre cosmique: forme et fonction des personnifications dans la céramique italiote (1994)
Aellen et. al. Ch. Aellen‒A. Cambitoglou‒J. Chamay, Le Peintre de Darius et son milieu (1986)
ARV2 J. D. Beazley, Attic Red-figure Vase-painters (2nd edition, 1963)
Atallah, Adonis W. Atallah, Adonis dans la littérature et l’art grecs (1966)
Beazley Addenda L. Burn‒R. Glynn (eds.), Beazley Addenda: Additional References to ABV, ARV2 & Paralipomena (1982)
Beazley Addenda2 T. H. Carpenter (ed.), Beazley Addenda: Additional References to ABV, ARV2& Paralipomena (2nd edition, 1989)
Berger-Doer 1979 G. Berger-Doer, ‘Adonis’, Antike Kunst 22, 1979, 119‒125
Burn L. Burn, The Meidias Painter (1987)
Cambitoglou 2006 A. Cambitoglou, ‘Le peintre des Situles de Dublin reconsidéré’, in Cambitoglou et al. 2006, 51‒147
Cambitoglou et al. 2006 A. Cambitoglou‒J. Chamay‒M. Campagnolo, Le don de la vigne: vase antique du baron Edmond de Rothschild (2006)
Cambitoglou 2009 A. Cambitoglou, ‘Three Apulian Vases in the National Museum in Naples Representing Adonis and Persephone’, ASAtene 87 n.s. III.9, 2009, 543‒555
Cassimatis 1987 H. Cassimatis, ‘Amours légitimes? Rêves d’amour dans la céramique grecque’, BABesch 62, 1987, 75‒84
CVA Sydney 1 A. Cambitoglou‒M. Turner, CVA Australia 1: Sydney, The Nicholson Museum, The University of Sydney, 1: The Red-figure Pottery of Apulia (2008)
Frazer, Adonis3 J. G. Frazer, Adonis, Attis, Osiris: studies in the history of oriental religion (3rd ed., 1911‒1915)
Gow, Theocritus II A. S. F. Gow, Theocritus II: Commentary, Appendix, Indexes and Plates (1965)
Karageorghis 2005 J. Karageorghis, Kypris: The Aphrodite of Cyprus: Ancient Sources and Archaeological Evidence (2005)
Kossatz-Deissmann 2000 A. Kossatz-Deissmann, ‛Ein Kelchkrater des Amykos-Malers’, in: P. Linant de Bellefonds‒J. Balty (eds.), Agathos daimon: mythes et cultes. Etudes d ʼiconographie en lʼhonneur de Lilly Kahil. BCH Suppl. 38 (2000) 259‒278
LCS A. D. Trendall, The Red-figured Vases of Lucania, Campania, and Sicily (1967)
LCS, Suppl. 1‒3 id., The Red-figured Vases of Lucania, Campania, and Sicily. Suppl 1=BICS Suppl. 26 (1970); Suppl. 2=BICS Suppl. 31 (1973); Suppl. 3=BICS Suppl. 41 (1983)
Lenormant‒de Witte Ch. Lenormant‒J. de Witte, Elite des monuments céramographiques, I‒IV (1844‒1861)
Lightfoot 2003 J. L. Lightfoot, Lucian: on the Syrian Goddess (2003)
LIMC Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae, vols. I‒VIII (1981‒1997)
Lohmann 1979 H. Lohmann, Grabmäler auf unteritalischen Vasen (1979)
Mettinger 2001 T. N. D. Mettinger, The Riddle of Resurrection: “Dying and Rising Gods” in the Ancient Near East (2001)
Moret 1993 J.-M. Moret, ‘Les départs des Enfers dans l’imagerie apulienne’, RA 1993, 293‒351
Paralipomena J. D. Beazley, Paralipomena, Additions to Attic Black-figure Vase-painters and to Attic Red-figure Vase-painters (1971)
RE A. Pauly‒A. G. Wissowa (eds.), Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft (1893–1978)
Reed 1997 J. D. Reed, Bion of Smyrna. The Fragments and the Adonis (1997)
Ribichini 1981 S. Ribichini, Adonis: aspetti orientali di un mito greco. Studi semitici, 55 (1981)
Richter, Furniture G. M. A. Richter, Ancient Furniture: a History of Greek, Etruscan and Roman Furniture (1926)
RVAp I A. D. Trendall‒A. Cambitoglou, The Red-figured Vases of Apulia, I: Early and Middle Apulian (1978)
RVAp II id., The Red-figured Vases of Apulia, II: Late Apulian (1981)
RVAp First Suppl. id., First Supplement to The Red-figured Vases of Apulia (1983)
RVAp Second Suppl. id., Second Supplement to The Red-figured Vases of Apulia (1991)
RVP A. D. Trendall, The Red-figured Vases of Paestum (1987)
Schauenburg 1985 K. Schauenburg, ‛Unterweltsbilder aus Grossgriechenland’, RM 91, 1984, 359–387
Schauenburg, Studien K. Schauenburg, Studien zur unteritalischen Vasenmalerei, I (1999), II (2000), III (2001), IV/V (2002), VI (2003), VII/VIII (2005)
Schmidt et al. M. Schmidt‒A. D. Trendall‒A. Cambitoglou, Eine Gruppe apulischer Grabvasen in Basel : Studien zu Gehalt und Form der unteritalischen Sepulkralkunst (1976)
Servais-Soyez 1981 B. Servais-Soyez, LIMC I (1981) 222‒229 s.v. Adonis
Soyez 1977 B. Soyez, Byblos et la fête des Adonies (1977)
Simon 1982 E. Simon, ‘Dramen des älteren Dionysios auf italiotischen Vasen’, in: M. L. Gualandi‒L. Massei‒S. Settis (eds.), ΑΠΑΡΧΑΙ: Nuove ricerche e studi sulla Magna Grecia e la Sicilia antica in onore di Paolo Enrico Arias (1982) 479‒482
Turner 2005 M. Turner, ‘Aphrodite and her Birds: the Iconology of Pagenstecher Lekythoi’, BICS 48, 2005, 57‒96
Weber-Lehmann 2003 C. Weber-Lehmann, ‘Musik um Adonis. Beobachtungen zur Rechteckkithara auf apulischen Vasen’, in: B. Schmaltz‒M. Söldner (eds.), Griechische Keramik im kulturellen Kontext: Akten des Internationalen Vasen-Symposions in Kiel 2001 (2003) 160‒166

Abbreviations of ancient authors and works, and transliterations of Greek names conform to those listed in The Oxford Classical Dictionary.


XVI, 138
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2020 (May)
Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2018. XVI, 138 pp., 50 fig. col.

Biographical notes

Jacques Chamay (Volume editor) Jean-Paul Descoeudres (Volume editor)


Title: Adonis, his representations in South Italian Vase-painting
book preview page numper 1
book preview page numper 2
book preview page numper 3
book preview page numper 4
book preview page numper 5
book preview page numper 6
book preview page numper 7
book preview page numper 8
book preview page numper 9
book preview page numper 10
book preview page numper 11
book preview page numper 12
book preview page numper 13
book preview page numper 14
book preview page numper 15
book preview page numper 16
book preview page numper 17
book preview page numper 18
book preview page numper 19
book preview page numper 20
book preview page numper 21
book preview page numper 22
book preview page numper 23
book preview page numper 24
book preview page numper 25
book preview page numper 26
book preview page numper 27
book preview page numper 28
book preview page numper 29
book preview page numper 30
book preview page numper 31
155 pages