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Wine Jug with Arkas and His Mother, Kallisto, and the God Hermes
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Attributed to near the Black Fury Group
Greek, made in Apulia, South Italy, about 360 B.C.
Terracotta
6 5/8 x 3 5/16 in.
72.AE.128

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The story of the mortal virgin Kallisto and her son Arkas decorates this small chous, or wine jug. On the front of the jug, Kallisto sits on a rock covered with animal skins. Willowy trees surround her, creating a woodland setting. According to myth, Kallisto spent her time in the Arcadian Mountains of Greece as a favorite hunting companion of Artemis, goddess of the hunt and childbirth. The king of the Greek gods, Zeus, was attracted to Kallisto and seduced her, which resulted in the birth of a son, Arkas, who gave his name to the area of Greece known as Arcadia. Enraged with jealously, Hera, Zeus's wife, changed Kallisto into a bear. On this chous, Kallisto already has the animal's pointed ears, hairy arms, and paws. She wears hunting boots and her hunting spears are propped against the rock at the left.

Moving to the right on the jug, baby Arkas sits on the ground but is being pulled into the arms of Hermes, the messenger god. Hermes wears his traditional costume of a traveling hat and cloak. His special wand, the kerykeion, rests against a stone marker behind him. Hermes is going to transport the soon-to-be-orphaned baby to his own mother, Maia, who will raise Arkas on Mount Kyllene in Arcadia.

In one version of the myth, Arkas later joins his mother Kallisto among the stars as parts of the constellations of the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper.


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