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Here Douris portrays the death of the giant Enceladus at the hands of Athena in the legendary war between the gods and the giants. The artist has given us the most dramatic, most evanescent moment of this episode, and on this vase has rendered it timeless. Athena, intent on her prey, strides purposefully forward ready to give the coup de grace with her spear. This final blow is not necessary and this the Goddess knows, for victory gleams in her eye.
Athena's emblem, the Gorgon head, appears to cheer her on with its open mouth just as the centaur device on Enceladus' shield futilely enjoins the giant to keep up the battle. He shouts encouragement to Enceladus and lifts a barely visible branch as a replacement to the giant's fallen arms. This seems to be a unique depiction of a Gorgon's head in profile.
Douris' composition may have been influenced by the central pediment group from the Old Hekatompedon now in the Acropolis Museum, Athens. There, Athena inflicts the coup de grace on Enceladus who lies defenseless on the ground. While the sculptural group does not lack power, the curve of the red-figure lekythos gives Douris' drawing an impact inconceivable in any other medium.
Attic red-figure lekythos. Height 38.0 cm
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Copyright ©1998-2000 Roy George