This image is available for download, without charge, under the Getty's Open Content Program.
Open Content images tend to be large in file-size. To avoid potential data charges from your carrier, we recommend making sure your device is connected to a Wi-Fi network before downloading.
Currently on view at: Getty Villa, Gallery 103, Athenian Vases
Attic Red-Figured Kylix
Attributed to the Brygos Painter (Greek (Attic), active about 490 - 470 B.C.)
Athens, Greece (Place Created)
11.2 × 39.1 × 31.4 cm (4 7/16 × 15 3/8 × 12 3/8 in.)
He must not be seen! I will cover his body, I will wrap him completely in my mantle. No one who loved him could bear to see the dark blood pouring from his nostrils and the raw wound in his breast.
So declared Tekmessa when she discovered the body of her dead lover Ajax in an Athenian tragedy by the playwright Sophokles. Ajax was one of the greatest of the Greek heroes in the Trojan War. The matter of his suicide was recounted in epic poetry now lost to us, but Athenian vase-painters in the early 400s B.C. drew on this tradition in showing his death.
The interior of this red-figure cup attributed to the Brygos Painter shows Ajax impaled on his sword and Tekmessa running to cover the body. The corpse lies supine, with the head cast back, beard projecting upwards, and hair trailing behind the head. Beneath Ajax, the Brygos Painter attempted to convey the texture of the pebble beach where the hero went to die.
The exterior of the cup presents the events leading to Ajax's suicide. After Achilles had been killed, Ajax recovered his body from the Trojans. He expected to be rewarded with Achilles' armor, but Odysseus, who had fought off the Trojans as Ajax carried off the corpse, also laid claim to the armor. One side of this cup shows the two heroes with swords drawn, quarreling over who deserves the prize. Their comrades have to restrain them as Agamemnon tries to keep them apart. On the other side, the Greeks cast votes in the form of stones piled on a low plaform in front of the opponents. The despondent Ajax clutches his bowed head, having lost by one vote.
Greek Vases and Modern Drawings from the Collection of Mr. & Mrs. Walter Bareiss (June 13 to October 5, 1969)
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), June 13 to October 5, 1969
Poets and Heroes (November 4, 1986 to February 28, 1987)
- Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University (Atlanta), November 4, 1986 to February 28, 1987
Ancient Art from the Permanent Collection (March 16, 1999 to May 23, 2004)
- The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), March 16, 1999 to May 23, 2004
Watzinger, Carl. Griechische Vasen in Tübingen (Reutlingen: Gryphius-Verlag, 1924), p. 38, no. E 36 inv. 1535b, pl. 20 (a fragment incorporated into the cup in 1969).
Bothmer, Dietrich von. "Aspects of a Collection." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 27 (June 1969), p. 427; fig. 11.
Bothmer, Dietrich von, and J. Bean. Greek Vases and Modern Drawings from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Bareiss. Exh. checklist. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1969), p. 7, no. 87.
Beazley, J. D. Paralipomena. Additions to Attic Black-figure Vase-painters and to Attic Red-figure Vase-painters. 2nd ed. Oxford: 1971, p. 367, no. 1 bis.
Davies, Mark I. "Ajax and Tekmessa. A Cup by the Brygos Painter in the Bareiss Collection," Antike Kunst 16, 1 (1973), pp. 60-70, pls. 9.1, and 10.
Shefton, Brian. "Agamemnon or Ajax," Revue Archeologique 24 (1973), pp. 203-218, fig. 1.
Boardman, John. Athenian Red Figure Vases: The Archaic Period (London: 1975), fig. 246.
Williams, Dyfri. "Ajax, Odysseus, and the Arms of Achilles." Antike Kunst 23 (1980), pp. 137-145, p. 137, n. 5; pls. 33, 7 and 36.1-2.
Touchefeu, Odette. "Aias I." In Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae (1981), pp. 312-336, pp. 325, no. 72, and 332, no. 140 (as L.69-11.35).
Joint Association of Classical Teachers. The World of Athens (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), p.138, fig. 3.8.
Schefold, Karl. "Sophokles' Aias auf einer Lekythos," Antike Kunst 19 (1976), p. 72, n. 3.
Wescoat, Bonna D., ed. Poets and Heroes: Scenes of the Trojan War. Exh. cat, Emory University Museum of Art and Archaeology. Atlanta: 1986, pp. 52-57, no. 14.
Burow, Johannes. Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum. Tubingen 5 (Germany 54). Munich: 1986, Beilage 1, fig. 4.
Beazley Addenda: Additional References to ABV, ARV2, and Paralipomena. 2nd ed. Compiled by T. Carpenter with T. Mannack and M. Mendonca. Oxford: 1989, p. 224.
Immerwahr, Henry. Attic Script: A Survey. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990), p. 89, n. 37, no. 553.
The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 3rd ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1991), p. 47.
Robertson, Martin. The Art of Vase Painting in Classical Athens. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), p. 95; fig. 88 (wrongly cited as 81.AE.26).
Touchefeu-Meynier, Odette. "Odysseus." In Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae VI (1992), pp. 943-970.
Gantz, Timothy. Early Greek Myth: A Guide to Literary and Artistic Sources, Vol. 2 (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press), pp. 634.
March, J. R. Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 38 (1991-1993), pp. 1-36, pp. 5-6; pl. 2a.
Buxton, Richard. Imaginary Greece: The Contexts of Mythology. Cambridge: 1994, p. 126, fig. 14.
Shapiro, H. A. Myth into Art: Poet and Painter in Classical Greece. London and New York: 1994, p. 153, fig. 108, and p. 154, fig. 109.
Buxton, Richard. La Grece de l'imaginaire. Les contextes de la mythologie. Paris: 1996, p. 189; fig. 14.
Brinkman, Vinzenz. "Aias der Telamonier," Der Torso, Ruhm und Raetsel (exh. cat.), Glyptotek Muenchen, January 21-March 29, 1998. Munich: 1998. Pp. 127-133, p. 132; fig. 194.
March, Jenny. Cassell Dictionary of Classical Mythology (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 1998), p. 368, s.v. Tecmessa; fig. 136.
Strawczynski, Nina. "L'image temporalisée. Le temps dans l'imagerie attique archaïque et classique." In Constructions du temps dans le monde grec ancien, edited by C. Darbo-Peschanski, 149-163. Paris: CNRS Editions, 2000, 463.
Boardman, John. The History of Greek Vases (London: Thames and Hudson, 2001), p. 243; fig. 268.
Immerwahr, Henry. R. A Corpus of Attic Vase Inscriptions. Preliminary Edition. Part VI: Supplement. 2001, no. 5015.
The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 6th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001), p. 47.
Tsingarida, Athena. "Soif d'emotions. La representation des sentiments dans la ceramique attique des VI et V siecles av. n. ere." Revue Belge de Philologie et D'Histoire 79. Brussels, 2001, p. 16, fig. 7.
Hedreen, Guy. Capturing Troy: The Narrative Functions of Landscape in Archaic and Early Classical Greek Art (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2001), fig. 28, pp. 104-5, 107-8, 110-11, 115, 117, n. 92, 143, nn. 73,74, 178, 221, 224, 234.
The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection (Los Angeles: 2002), p. 69.
Spivey, Nigel and Squire, Michael. Panorama of the Classical World (Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2004), p. 172, fig. 269.
Sacks, David. Encyclopedia of the Ancient Greek World (New York: Facts on File, 2005), p. 17, ill.
Zwierlein, Otto. Hippolytus und Phaidra: Von Euripides bis D'Annunzio (Paderborn: Verlag Ferdinand Schoningh, 2005), pp. 26-27, abb. 5.
Franzoni, Claudio. Tirannia dello sguardo. Corpo, gesto, espressione dell'arte greca. Turin: Biblioteca Einaudi, 2006, 158, fig. 78.
Neils, Jennifer. "The 'Unheroic' Corpse: Re-reading the Sarpedon Krater". In Athenian Potters and Painters, vol. 2. John H. Oakley and Olga Palagia, eds. (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2009) 212-219, p. 215, fig.6.
The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection. Rev. ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2010), p. 69.
Oakley, John H. The Greek Vase: Art of the Storyteller (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2013), front cover, pp. 84-85, fig. 21.
Catoni, Maria Luisa. "The Iconographic Tradition of the Suicide of Ajax: Some Questions." In Staging Ajax's suicide, edited by Glenn W. Most and Leyla Ozbek (PIsa: Edizioni della Normale, 2015), 20-28, fig. 13a-c.
Lissarrague, François. "Ways of Looking at Greek Vases," in A Companion to Ancient Aesthetics, edited by P Destrée and P Murray. Malden, MA; Oxford; Chichester: Wiley Blackwell, 2015, 237-247, p. 242.
Chiarini, Sara.The So-Called Nonsense Inscriptions on Ancient Greek Vases: Between Paideia and Paidiá (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2018), pp. 384- 5.
Franceschini, Mariachiara. Attische Mantelfiguren: Relevanz eines standardisierten Motivs der rotfigurigen Vasenmalerei. Zürcher Archäologische Forschungen 5. (Rahden/Westf.: VML Verlag Marie Leidorf GmbH, 2018), pl. 12.a.