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Document Details :

Title: The Honor of Orestes and the Cowardice of Aigisthos
Subtitle: Formation of the Social Ideal and Athenian Vase-Painting in the Early-Classical Period
Author(s): OSADA, Toshihiro
Journal: BABESCH
Volume: 83    Date: 2008   
Pages: 61-71
DOI: 10.2143/BAB.83.0.2033098

Abstract :
In the early classical period the theme of the murder of Aigisthos by Orestes became popular in Athenian vasepaintings. In previous studies the twelve examples of this theme discussed herein have been interpreted as an identical scene. However, it would seem that they actually fall into two groups. In the earlier works the painters depict the legend as one of succession to the throne, punishment of the false king, and thus emphasize the aristocratic value-system of their time. In the later examples we see how the bravery of Orestes is contrasted to the cowardice of Aigisthos. In this way the new image of Orestes, the hero, embodies the model of virtue for the Athenian citizen; that is, a model of self-sacrifice under democracy.

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