Vol 8 (2018)

Helen and Menelaus in attic red- and black- figure pottery from Syracuse and Kamarina

Flavia Zisa
Published August 1, 2019
  • Helen,
  • Menelaus,
  • Syracuse,
  • Kamarina,
  • Attic pottery,
  • Athens,
  • Greek mythology
  • ...More


This paper presents two Athenian vases from Syracuse and Camarina depicting two different representations of Helen’s return to Menelaos.

The first vase is a black-figure panel-amphora type B from Piazza Vittoria necropolis in Syracuse, attributed to the Princeton Painter (540 ca. BC). Side A shows Helen in the anakalypsis-gesture in front of Menelaos who is turning back to look at her and holds his sword prominently in front of the woman.

The second vase is a group of 3 fragments of a red-figured krater from the necropolis of Passo Marinaro in Camarina, attributed to the Kleophon Painter (450-425 BC). All that remains is part of three figures and a dropped sword that can be interpreted as Helen, Aphrodites and Menealos, contextualizing them within the emotional and erotic version of the fifth-century scenes.

The study of Helen’s return has long held a relevant position in the field of the interaction between literary and visual representations of the myth. This report gives an overview of the current state of researches in the various subareas mainly related to the vases scenes, and it takes into account some of the major problems that need to be addressed.