A DESCRIPTION OF EARLY ITALIAN WARRIOR IMAGE ON A CAMPANIAN BELL-KRATER IN THE NICOLAS MUSEUM UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY by the Libation Painter, representing Achilles and Troilos
by Thoran Braune
The Nicholson Museum (University of Sydney) Italian Campanian Bell-Krater is a very fine example of
its type and well worth a look if you are in the area on a weekday.
It is this type of imagery on vases and tomb wall paintings, that
artists for books such as Osprey ‘Early Roman Armies’ use to give
wargamers and figure painters an idea of what to do, in terms of
painting our little men.
The Campanian Bell-Krater (46.01, Nicholson Museum, University of Sydney) is in red figure on black style. Interior and exterior painted black over red wash.
Height - 42.2cm.
Height of Base - 4cm.
Base Stem width - 8cm.
Diameter with Rim - 41.5cm.
Diameter of Rim - 15.5cm
Diameter of Bowl - 26cm, tapering to 8cm.
Diameter of Base - 16.9cm.
Left Handle across - 12cm.
Left Handle Height - 8cm.
Left Handle out from krater wall - 4.7cm.
Right Handle across - 11.5cm.
Right Handle Height - 8cm.
Right Handle out from krater Wall - 5cm
Obverse Panel - Viewed from left to right.
Two women and a warrior, the middle woman has only face towards the warrior, this may mean she did not expect him.
Woman standing (18cm) facing seated woman and warrior, holding plate/bowel in left hand, grapes in right hand. Bracelets (painted white) on both arms. Hair tied back and up and covered with white cloth. Necklace (painted white dots). The feet are white (could be to represent shoes as the flesh is not white).
Next in the middle is the seated woman (16cm). She sits on four stacked rocks (painted yellow and white). Bracelets (painted white) on her arms. Left hand palm down on rocks. Right hand held up holding a leaf object. Feet painted white. Head turned towards the warrior behind her. Hair tied and covered similar to first woman.
The warrior (18.5cm) standing. Right hand holding spear (painted white). Left arm hidden by circular hoplite type shield. Wearing Attic style helmet with crest (all painted white), the crest of the helmet penetrates the top border. Wearing a bronze belt (painted white) Bronze greaves (painted white) on legs. He is facing both women.
Reverse Panel - Left to right.
Two draped youths facing each other.
First youth is draped with a diadem (painted white) and has arms hidden in drapery.
There is a square in the centre with white painted border and a dark painted long teardrop in the centre (the square could represent a window).
Below the ‘window’ is a circle, which is framed, in white paint except where the circle is broken by a dark painted cross dividing the circle into quarters. Each quarter of the circle has a dark dot, the upper right hand quarters’ dot is partly within the horizontal arm of the cross; the lower right quarters’ dot is larger than the rest.
The second youth is facing the first youth and is dressed the same with his arms hidden in drapery.
Borders - Lower border is a wave pattern.
The upper border runs under the rim and is some form of leaf pattern broken on the sides by the handles.
Sides - The sides have palmettes under the handles.
Damage - Small areas of ware around the outer part of the rim. One chip on the rim over the left handle.
Evidence of red wash on the bottom of the interior of the bowl. At the handles and under the base is the clay colour.
On Campanian vases Samnite men are usually depicted as warriors in their distinctive clothing and equipment. Our main source for Samnite warrior equipment is Campanian vase painting. Samnite warrior activities are divided into two groups in vase painting.
The first group is the combat-related activities and combat scenes. The second group is the ritual activities. It is more common to show in ritual scenes a male and a female than just the male warrior. The Nicholson bell-krater falls within the ritual group with a group scene.
By the 4th century BCE, there seems to be three main Campanian pottery workshops. One in Cumae and two in Capua . The CA Painter was in Cumae while the Libation Group worked in Capua.
A large source of tomb-paintings is at Paestum in Lucania and a small number in Campania near Capua. Fourteen tomb-paintings from Capua show warriors.
On Campanian vases the Samnite warrior is shown wearing their particular tunic, belt, and other military equipment. Belts can be plain or decorated. Sometimes clasps are shown on belts. The other non-bronze belts could be of leather; we see such a belt on Amazons.
 Like the Nicholson Museum bell krater.
 This is not the case on Apulian vases were the men are shown in a greater varity of clothing and situations.
 The Capuan tomb-paintings were almost completely destroyed during World War Two. Schneider-Hermann, G., The Samnites of the Fourth Century BC as depicted on Campainian Vases and in other sources, Institute of Classical Studies, London, 1996, Chapter 1, p.3.
 Training, maintenance etc
 A calyx krater from Chicago, a Skyphos in Naples and an Amphora in Melbourne all show single combat-related images. Schneider-Hermann, G., Part One, Chapter 3, pp.78-79.
 Schneider-Hermann, G., Part One, Chapter 3, p.113.
 Hannah, Patricia and Robert, Athens-Sicily-Campania: Warriors and Painters, Greek Colonists and Native Populations, edit by Jean-Paul Desceudres, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1990, p.278.
 Which the Nicholson Bell-krater is from.
 The Libation Group is notable for its warrior scenes of mixed Greek and Samnite dress.
 Hannah, Patricia and Robert, Athens-Sicily-Campania: Warriors and Painters, Greek Colonists and Native Populations, edit by Jean-Paul Desceudres, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1990, p.279.
 Schneider-Hermann, G., The Samnites of the Fourth Century BC as depicted on Campainian Vases and in other sources, Institute of Classical Studies, London, 1996, p.XXXI.
 This could be to help indicate it is a bronze belt.
 Belts are shown in a variety of scenes on Apulian vases, not just martial scenes. There is little difference in how belts are shown on men, women or children except that the bronze belt with clasps are only on males.