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The development of kassandra in the depictions of the ‘rape of kassandra’

Demonstrated on both Attic Black-Figure and Red-Figure vase paintings, the imagery of Rape of Kassandra shifts dramatically throughout the time especially for the portrays of Kassandra. Although many scholars had already provided their understanding toward the depictions of Kassandra, numerous of conflicts between their commons can be recognized. In this paper, I am going to examine different aspects that might result in the change of Kassandra’s depiction, which include religious and social influences or events, develop in pictorial techniques as well as the power of literature and theatre. Notable commons by scholars that caught my attentions and different vases from both techniques will be discussed. Most importantly, since vase paintings are powerful instrument in defining the society, I am going to address my opinion on what this scene tell us about the Greek society in a broader term. Retold by Proklos, the lost Iliupersis of Arktinos records the earliest account of this episode. Kassandra is the daughter of the Trojan king Priam, who fled to the temple of Athena during the night of the sack of Troy and held on the statue of Athena for protection. Ajax the leaser followed after her and tried to tear her away from Athena’s statue, then defiled the sanctuary which cause Athena’s wrath. At the same time, conflicting details were shared in later mythographers and poets, therefore whether Kassandra is raped or not remains ambiguous. An early sixth-century BC shield strap that dedicated at Olympia might be the first imagery of the ‘Rape of Kassandra’. Kassandra depicted in fully nude, she is kneeling towards Athena and looking back to Ajax, as a response to Ajax drags Shield strap. Olympia, Olympia Museum B 1891. Drawing after Touchefeu(1981). her right arm. Although this Kassandra seems in the size of a child, the artist still chooses to portray her breasts as a grown woman, which creates uncertainty of her age. Many scholars share different thoughts toward her nudity, some suggest it shows the erotic nature of the pursuit while one scholar comments that Kassandra might just simply had no time to get dressed. One source indicates that partially naked women in Greek mythological scenes are in moments of great danger and the nakedness shows their weakness and vulnerability in exposed manner. When looking at black-figure vases, a clear adoption of composition from the shield strap can be identified immediately. However, although some Kassandra are presented in full nudity, she also starts to wear chiton or cloak, sometimes even both. B.Cohen mentions the often play down of Kassandra’s nudity in black-figure depictions that her nudity is frequently hidden behind clothes or Athena(or Athena’s shield). In my opinion, Cohen’s comment is only partially right, since there is a clear ‘body taboo’ in Greek society against mortal female being naked in public. But when we looked at Kassandra on majority of the black-figure vases, she appears to be covered with a cloak that doesn’t function to conceal but rather reveal her body frequently. At the same time, Athena’s shield often covers Kassandra’s head and shows her body in full view. This leaves us questioning why there are so many variations in portraying Kassandra. Heather Jackson discussed his thoughts on the varying representation from different workshops and gave the example of artists associate with Princeton Painter all choose to present Kassandra with garment. This explanation fits into the ambiguity of the original contents that each workshop might have their own understanding of the story and uses some variation to differentiate with others. He also provides a new dimension on the reason why Kassandra is mostly portrayed in cloak-revealing.He brings up an early association between Kassandra’s nudity and her status as a prophetess by Robert, and connects E.Harrison’s comment on Apollo’s cloak that ‘reveal his nudity as a gift of prophetic knowledge’ with Kassandra’s cloak in many black-figure depictions. Jackson suggests the association of cloak and nudity together recalls sculptural representations of Apollo, therefore the connection with prophecy and Apollo differentiate her nudity from other raped maidens. In my opinion, the main reason of Kassandra represented in many variations results from the fact that she is not the main emphasis of the imagery in black-figure vase paintings, so as her body. She is usually small in size in comparison to Ajax and Athena in full sizes, while her common gestures of kneeling or running in contrast with Athena’s helmet superposition over the tongue motifs on top register make her even tinier. Although the original depiction on the shield strap portrays intensive interaction between her and Ajax, there are little engagement between the two(especially physically) on black-figure vases. Some vases show Ajax seemingly trying to kill Kassandra by pointing his sword towards her, but Ajax appears more so to be engaging in a fight with Athena for most of the time and without physical engagement with Kassandra. In fact, Athena is the main focus in these scenes that she even comes “alive” with both legs open wide actively and engages with Ajax in a fight position by pointing her spear to him. Joan B Connelly discusses the depictions of ‘Rape of Kassandra’ is an opportunity for worshiping Athena, especially during the expansion and reorganization of the Panathenaic festival. In fact, the fighting pose of the ‘Panathenaic Athena’ can be recalled in numerous ‘Rape of Kassandra’ scenes on black-figure vases, and amphora becomes the most popular vase for this scene might due to the visual association with Panathenaic amphora. Therefore, the main narrative

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