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From Kyri

December 22nd 2009

I bought a Greek Attic skyphos cup about 3 years ago from a ADA member, described only as "a running man". It is quite large at 6.5 inches high,10 inches wide.

I thought this piece was special, so I looked for a similar example. I found a similar "running man" in the usuall reference  books on clasical mythology and I
discovered that this winged running man was the god of the north wind Boreas. Once I knew this it was easy to find similar pieces in the Beazley archives etc. 

Boreas featured often on Greek pots from 480 BC -420 BC. Herodotus tells us that the Greeks in their hour of need called on him for help when threatened by invasion by the Persian fleet. Herodotus says "the ships were duly scattered" so the greeks thought Boreas was responsible and built many shrines in his honour and of course put him on their pots.

Knowing this I was 99% certain that this was Boreas, that the pot was Attic circa 440-460 BC and was made at a very important time of Greek history, it was time to take the pot to the British Museum.

It was seen by Thorston Opper. He took it in with him and came back about 20 minutes later and  said that unfortunately he had dropped it and it was broken into about 50 pieces. (No, not really, this is just Bron's sense of humour when copy editing this text).


The god of the North wind ...Boreas , he went on to say that the potter himself may have fought in the battle at Salamis Bay and he went on to tell me what I already knew about the connection betyween Boreas and the Persian wars.





Two other similar  images of Boreas on Greek pottery.


Left: Yale University Museum.Right: Martin von Wagner Museum


On  the other side of Kyri's pirece is the figure of Oreithyia.  


Boreas ( Βορέας, ) was the Greek god of the cold North Wind and the bringer of winter. His name meant "North Wind" or "Devouring One".

Boreas was said to be very strong and with a violent temper. He was frequently shown as a winged old man with shaggy hair that is sometimes frosted and spiked and beard, holding a conch shell and wearing a billowing cloak. Pausanias wrote that Boreas had  snakes instead of feet, though in art he was usually depicted with winged human feet.

Boreas was closely associated with horses. He was said to have fathered twelve colts with the mares of Erichthonius king of Troy, after taking the form of a stallion,. These were said to be able to run across a field of grain without trampling the plants. The Greeks believed that his home was in Thrace, and Herodotus and Pliny both describe a northern land known as Hyperborea  ("Beyond the North Wind"), where people lived in complete happiness to a very great age.

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