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Attic black-figure amphora

Vulci
circa 540-530 BC.
Ceramic
height cm 61.1; diameter mouth cm 27.8
cat. 16757

This famous amphora, signed by Exekias both as potter and painter, bears the illustration of an episode foreign to the tradition of the poems of Homer: Achilles and Ajax in armour intent on playing with dice or the game of morra, according to an old interpretation. The amphora is one of the most refined products of the black-figure style, with details and decorations of the clothes engraved with calligraphic care. With the typical solemnity of his style, the ceramist grasps the moment when the two heroes, having temporarily laid down their arms during the long siege of Troy, devote themselves to play. Achilles and Ajax, indicated by the insciptions, seated on low supports, lean towards a pedestal, stretching out their right arms, to read the points gained in the game, respectively four and three, as specified by the inscriptions that seem to emerge cartoon-like from their mouths. On the second panel are Castor, with his horse Kyllaros, Pollux and their parents Tyndareus and Leda.