Red-Figure Askos
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Gift of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman

Greek, Apulia, South Italy, 360 - 350 B.C.
6 11/16 x 6 5/16 in.

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Vase-painters working in the Greek colonies in South Italy frequently depicted scenes connected with theatrical performances. Phlyax plays, popular in the 300s and 200s B.C., were farces parodying the heroes and themes of mythology or the comic elements of everyday life. The term phlyax, which is used for both the play and the costumed actors, probably derives from the Greek verb "to swell" and finds its meaning in the actors' costumes. They wore a mask, tights, a padded tunic, and a large artificial phallus; any other garments necessary for the role were worn over this.

Master and slave themes were popular in phlyax plays. On one side of this Apulian red-figure askos, a phlyax characterized as an older man runs along brandishing a stick. The other side shows a slave fleeing the beating.

The askos is a flask with a spout at one end and a handle across the top. This variant is called a duck askos because the back view resembles a duck's tail.