Scenes from Daily Life on Athenian Vases

Wednesday, 16 September, 6.30
Theatre A, Elisabeth Murdoch Building, The University of Melbourne

Professor John Oakley, 2015 Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens (AAIA) Visiting Professor

Greek painted vases from Athens are our richest and most complex source of images from ancient Greece. Traditionally, they have been grouped together as either scenes of myth or pictures of daily life with most of the scholarly attention being paid to myth. This lecture will examine not only the different types of subjects connected with daily life that are illustrated on these vases, but will also note subjects not found, such as scenes of cooking or cleaning, activities probably left to slaves.

Scholars are currently divided as to how great the documentary value of vase-paintings is for determining the reality of ancient life in Athens, and the question of whether the vase paintings are accurate reflections of different aspects of ancient life or pure fantasy has not been answered definitively. Indeed, often multiple interpretations for the same type of scene have been put forth. This lecture will shed light on this question and attempt to solve the quandary.

John Oakley is the Chancellor Professor and Forrest D. Murden Jr. Professor, Department of Classical Studies, College of William and Mary in Virginia, United States . He is a world-renowned specialist in Greek vase painting, iconography and Roman sarcophagi and the author of numerous books, including “Athenian Potters and Painters” (in 3 volumes, Oxford 1997, 2009, and 2014), “The Greek Vase: The Art of the Storyteller” (British Museum Press, 2013) and “Picturing Death in Classical Athens: The Evidence of the White Lekythoi” (Cambridge, 2004).

Admission is free. Bookings are required. Seating is limited.
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For further information please contact Brenda Jackson at or phone 8344 1521.

This lecture is co-sponsored by the Classical Association of Victoria and the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies (SHAPS) at The University of Melbourne.

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