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The Pederastic Gaze in Attic Vase-Painting

Independent Scholar, Greenville, SC 29607, USA
Received: 21 February 2019 / Revised: 15 March 2019 / Accepted: 19 March 2019 / Published: 2 April 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ancient Mediterranean Painting (vol. 1))
PDF [3082 KB, uploaded 2 April 2019]


An image on an Attic red-figure kylix attributed to the Antiphon Painter, showing a single youth wrapped tightly in a mantle, represents a type of figure often found in pederastic courting scenes and scenes set in the gymnasium, where male bodies were on display. Subject to the gaze of older men, these youths hide their bodies in their cloaks and exhibit the modesty expected of a boy being courted. While many courting scenes show an erastês approaching a tightly-wrapped erômenos, in this scene, the boy stands alone with no source of modesty-inducing gaze within the image. Combined with the intimate manner in which the user of this cup would experience the image as he held it close to his face to drink, it would appear to the drinker that it is his own gaze that provokes the boy’s modesty. This vase is one of several in which we may see figures within an image reacting to the eroticizing gaze of the user of the vessel. As the drinker drains his cup and sees the boy, the image responds with resistance to the drinker’s gaze. Though seemingly unassuming, these pictures look deliberately outward and declare themselves to an anticipated viewer. The viewer’s interaction with the image is as important to its function as any element within the picture. View Full-Text
Keywords: ancient Greece; Attic vase-painting; erotic art; ceramics ancient Greece; Attic vase-painting; erotic art; ceramics

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Brendle, R. The Pederastic Gaze in Attic Vase-Painting. Arts 2019, 8, 47.

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