Richard Armitage – ὅ παῖς καλός

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 symposiaThe 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.

Red Figure Kylix - by Euxitheos as potter and Oltos as painterPhoto: Direzione Generale per i Beni Archaeologici, Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali

Red Figure Kylix – by Euxitheos as potter and Oltos as painter
Photo: Direzione Generale per i Beni Archaeologici, Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali

Interior - Discobolos Kleomelos KylixDepartment of Greek, Etruscan and Roman antiquities in the Louvre, Sully, first floor, room 43Photo Credit:  Wikimedia

Interior – Discobolos Kleomelos Kylix
Department of Greek, Etruscan and Roman antiquities in the Louvre, Sully, first floor, room 43
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

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  🙂

From the Facebook Page of Jamie Edwards - Magic 105.4

Table Football (or Foosball) Match
From the Facebook Page of Jamie Edwards – Magic 105.4

10 comments on “Richard Armitage – ὅ παῖς καλός

  1. jasrangoon says:

    Beautiful Vases. Beautiful Armitage. Yup, these definitely work together! I really enjoy these small lessons about ancient Greek art. Love Armitage as athlete, especially playing foosball! This image of him really got to me as well, largely because I used to be really good at the game. And yes, I’m a total dork and imagined how fun it would be to play a game against him. 😉

    Total side note, I looked at καλὸς and thought, “I know that word. Why do I know that word?” Then wouldn’t let myself read further until I figured it out. Nerdy I know. But then I remembered that καλή was one of my vocab words back in school. I even went through a phase where I thought if I ever had a daughter I’d name her Kali.

    • obscura says:

      Ridiculously long legs aside, I just love the look on his face…like he’s either sucking in or biting on his lip concentrating on a foosball game in radio station “breakroom” – it kills me 🙂 Did you spend a lot of time in bars, or have your own table…or both 😉

      καλὸς/καλή…this is the masculine vs the feminine form…on vases dedicated to a woman, the word appears as καλή, so there’s no mistaking it. I had Greek names all picked out for my future daughter too…I really liked Karis (grace) or Sophia (wisdom). A blustery Irish wind overruled me in the end 🙂

      Nerds of the world unite!!

      • jasrangoon says:

        Between the legs and the look of concentration the pic really is a winner. I did not spend a lot of time in bars. 😉 Rather, I was a good little teenage girl once upon a time who spent a lot of time playing in the youth group’s room at church. I love that you had Karis picked out as a name, even if the Irishman didn’t go for it. Quite a few of my friends who took Greek have named their daughters that.

  2. Servetus says:

    There’s something about the apparently long flank and the twisting of the trunk that also really reminds me of Paul Andrews. I’ll send you a cap.

    • obscura says:

      Yep, I see it…I wonder if there isn’t some photographic distortion here, or simply an angle at work that s making his legs look so very long. I know they’re long, but I’ve been looking at proportions this week, and this photo now looks a bit off – I still really like it though!

      • Servetus says:

        I think, quite honestly, that there’s something not quite usual about the proportion of his legs to his trunk (I say this every time I write a post about him wearing a suit), because for the usual suit, his waist is not quite the right length. Jonia did a post about how long his legs are — I think she said they have to be at least 3 ft 3 in or 3ft 6 in or something like that.

        • obscura says:

          I’ve been working on a proportion post this week, it’s not exact measurement, but I’d agree that his torso is on the shorter side, legs on the longer…not outrageously so, but enough that it is perceptible, especially in certain types of clothing…

  3. […] Armitage, discus throwing, and classical beauty. […]

  4. […] who’ve only recently joined the party here, the καλός post – origins explained here – is generally a celebration of the καλός that is Richard Armitage.  I was thinking […]

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