Studies on the iconography of divine and heroic children in Attic red-figure vase-painting of the fifth century
The thesis is an examination of the iconography of children in Attic red-figure vase-painting, concentrating mainly on the representation of mythological children, but considering also the applications of the study to red-figure scenes of everyday life. The aims are two-fold: firstly to analyse iconographic types employed for the depiction of children by vase-painters, and secondly to use such a study to establish a foundation for the objective analysis of age representation of children in vase-painting. The catalogue of vases comprises one hundred and ninety six entries. Discussion of this material is split into two sections; one dealing with the birth and childhood of the gods, and the other with that of the heroes. The first section is divided into two chapters, one on the most commonly represented infant god, Dionysos, and a second devoted to the remainder of the gods who appear as children. The second section comprises a chapter each on Attic and non-Attic heroes, and a further chapter considers representations of mythological female children. The thesis concludes that divine and heroic children are represented on vases throughout the red-figure period, finding their phase of greatest popularity between about 490-40 BC. It is shown that most of the iconographic types employed for children are interchangeable for a variety of mythological, and often also mortal, offspring. Whilst the representation of infants and young children becomes increasingly naturalistic as the fifth century progresses, lack of an iconographic type (or types) for older children and adolescents is probably a reflection of the liminal status of the adolescent youth in fifth century Athenian society. Furthermore, the inferior status of women and children in that society illuminates the almost total absence of infant goddesses and heroines in red-figure, since a female child would probably have seemed too undignified a figure to be anything but mortal.