Oil Jar with Paris and Helen
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Attributed to the Painter of the Frankfort Acorn, vase-painter; and Phintias, potter
Greek, Athens, 420 - 400 B.C.
7 1/4 x 2 11/16 in.

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As these two figures gaze longingly at each other and the couple falls in love, the fate of a generation of Greek and Trojan warriors is sealed. On this Athenian red-figure lekythos, the artist depicted the moment when Paris, the Trojan prince, meets Helen, the wife of his host Menelaos, the king of Sparta. Helen will run off with Paris, sparking the Trojan War. Paris and Helen meet in the palace at Sparta, whose lavish setting is indicated by the elaborate doors with raised relief knockers. Helen's companions frame the scene; one seems rather amazed to see a tiny version of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, blessing the union as she flies through the air in a chariot drawn by erotes. A lekythos was a container used for precious perfumed oils. Because it had a narrow neck, the oil poured out slowly and the cup-like mouth served as a funnel for filling the vessel.