This is the first installment of what, I think, will become a regular feature here at Ancient Armitage…the καλός post. A little bit of ancient pottery, a lot bit of the pulchritudinous Mr. Armitage. Unlike the more analytical discussions, nothing connects Richard Armitage to the vases in question, except the wording of the inscriptions: ὅ παῖς καλός
The generic inscription ὅ παῖς καλός (ho pais kalos) “the boy is beautiful,” or a more specific variant of it, appears on hundreds of vases. These καλός vases are a sub-genre of of Athenian pottery that were made between 550-450 BC and the vast majority of them are drinking cups like the ones below which were used at symposia. The inscriptions always refer to someone as καλός, or beautiful. Although some are dedicated to females, the greatest number celebrate the beauty of males. Their exact function and meaning are not well understood. Some scholars suggest that they were a part of the homoerotic tradition of pederasty in classical Athens, others that they functioned as a sort of public relations ploy to increase the popularity of a particular youth, and therefore a particular family in the tightly knit Athenian social structure. Their exact function and meaning continue to generate discussion after 2500 years.
So without further ado, the καλός image that hit me in the solar plexus this week…. Oh, and of course there is Armitage as the “athelete” to link it to the image of the Discobolos (Discus Thrower) above 🙂