the Greek cities of South Italy and Sicily
These Western Greek cities participated in the Hellenic civilization as fully as cities from Mainland Greece and the Eastern cities. Athletes won victories and had statues set up in their honor at the Panhellenic sanctuaries of Olympia, Isthmia, Nemea, and Delphi. Like other Greek cities, they too erected treasuries at these sanctuaries, which contained their valuable dedications.
The famous bronze Charioteer from Delphi is a dedication by Polyzalos, the Sicilian tyrant of Gela, in honor of a chariot victory in 478 or 474 BCE. Another statue of a charioteer, but in marble, has recently been found at Motya in Sicily. And the famous over life size bronze statues of warriors from Riace found off of the coast of southern Italy may have been intended as victory monuments at Olympia or Delphi.
Painting also flourished in the western cities, and tombs from Paestum (ancient Poseidonia) provide lively painted scenes reminiscent of Etruscan tomb paintings.
Syracuse became the leading city of Magna Graecia in the fifth century BCE, much as Athens led the mainland cities. The dramatist Aeschylus staged his play, Persians at Syracuse under the tyrant Hieron. Syracuse in fact helped to cause the downfall of Athens as a great power, when the ill-fated Athenian expedition to Sicily of 415 led to the total defeat of their once great navy.
Read "The Hand of Daedalus" by R. Ross Holloway
The youthful god Eros is one of the most popular images found on these vases, and in fact the SIIAS@CSI Study Collection contains several lekythoi with images of Eros. The other common image on these vases is a standing figure of a man or woman, and there are two of these images on a large skyphos and a smaller one, and a female head, as shown on two examples shown below. Most of these pots and small terracottas in this Collection were acquired in Southern Italy.
Lekythos with Eros flying
A Lekythos is a container for precious oils and perfumes, and the lovely figures depicted on them emphasizes that purpose. Like the skyphos above, these vases were made in the style of Greek vases, but with much more flair and abandonment in the drawing of the figure of Eros. He was the Greek god of love, the son of Aphrodite who he often accompanied. Eros is portrayed as a nude winged youth, almost effeminately decked out with jewelry, and he carries ribbons and gifts or holds a chest for jewelry, perhaps for a bride.
Kantharos: SIIAS A 1607
Pelike: SIIAS A 1608 These are two other shapes that occur in South Italian vase painting, with another very popular image of a female head with ornate earrings, diadem, and hair covering. Although the figure is thought to be Aphrodite, it may well merely represent a well-to-do woman.
Cult and ritual vessels in the form of animals or animal heads like this vase were also quite popular.
Two other types of vases in this Collection are shown below, an oinochoe in the form of a Seilenos
or old Satyr and an oinochoe in the form of a young girl's head.