Circle of War
Illustrating the synthesis of Greek art and functionality, the psykter shaped vase served primarily as a vessel to cool wine. After being filled, the vase was placed into a larger container holding cool water. Given the well-balanced bulbous form, the vase would bob in the water roughly at the lowest horizontal line in its painted design. It is for this reason that these shapes were often decorated with aquatic scenes, as the creatures depicted would rise and dip in and out of the water as the wine cooled.
The scene on this piece echoes a common theme of hoplites (soldiers) in procession. Drawn in appearance from lyrical dramas in a single-file formation, the rigid alignment belies not only military discipline but also the strict adherance to the practice of an ideology. Not to limit history’s war-makers those shown, but I felt these symbols fit the illustration of the continuation of aggression and oppressive behavior perpetuated between those tied to their beliefs. These figures are shown riding dolphins for two reasons; first, to complete the aquatic theme as described above, and second, to utilize the ancient greek belief that dolphins were the spiritual guide of the fallen to the underworld.