Studies in Classics
I graduated cum laude from Amherst College with a B.A. in Anthropology and Classics. I received the Crowell Prize in Latin in 2012 and the Hutchins Prize in Greek in 2013. I also completed my senior honors thesis in Classics, detailed below.
The Mount Holyoke Pyxis: An Investigation
In 2013, I completed my B.A. thesis in Classics at Amherst College, entitled The Mount Holyoke Pyxis: An Investigation. An extended abstract, key figures and an excerpted sample are available below. The Mount Holyoke College Art Museum's entry on the piece, numbered MH 1932.5.B.SII, is available online with further figures. I spoke about my experience working with the Mount Holyoke pyxis for the Amherst Explorations 2013 Lightning Talks, held at Frost Library in April 2013.
The Mount Holyoke Pyxis is a small, cylindrical, red-figure makeup box with a lid, dating to the 460s or 450s B.C.E. It depicts three figures: a seated woman and a standing youth facing one another, and a standing woman moving away. In addition, a large door and a variety of objects appear on the pyxis, and a wreath appears on the lid. It was painted by the Veii Painter, a member of the Penthesilea Workshop, active in Athens in the mid-fifth century B.C.E.
Since its acquisition by the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum in 1932, a close and detailed examination of the pyxis itself had never before been conducted. Using ultraviolet light, I identified which portions of the pyxis were the original fragments, and which were filled in when the piece was reassembled in the late 19th or early 20th century. Most prior sources drew incorrect conclusions based on portions of the pyxis which were not even original, or improperly identified the figures and objects depicted on it.
The scene depicted on the pyxis had been previously assumed to be a standard courtship scene, similar to those shown on other pyxides, in which a man visits a woman he is wooing in the courtyard of her home. He brings her a gift as she engages in an appropriately domestic activity, spinning. I, however, proposed an alternate interpretation, that the pyxis actually depicts a scene of adultery. This subversive reading draws from comparison with other pyxides; from an analysis of Greek textual sources, particularly Lysias’ oration Ὑπὲρ τοῦ Ἐρατοσθένους φόνου ἀπολογία (On the Murder of Eratosthenes); and from the presence of certain items on the pyxis, particularly the heaping basket of wool and the mysterious walking-stick propped against the door. Finally, I framed this interpretation in the context of the gendered producer and consumer of the pyxis.
Excerpted Sample: From "Restorations"
A major impact that the restorations have had on the pyxis is to obscure the original appearance of the garments. On other Veii Painter pyxides, including the fragments from Delos and from the Athens Agora P 24253, there is very intricate detailing on the drapery around the lower legs consisting of dots and thin vertical lines. The only portion of the Mount Holyoke pyxis with women’s lower legs that is original is the left (back) leg of the seated woman, which does have significant articulation of this type; the other portions, namely the seated woman’s right leg and the legs of the running woman, have been restored to have minimal or no such articulation (Figure 40). This is an improper restoration, and articulation should be present to be consistent with the Veii Painter’s similar works.
The other garment of particular note is the standing woman’s exaggeratedly outlined himation over her left shoulder. This garment is significantly restored, with the lower right half not belonging to the original. Such solid bordering does appear on himatia of other women in the Penthesilea Workshop’s repertoire, although frequently more clearly, as on a cup by the Splanchnopt Painter or on the Berlin F 2261 pyxis, on which one figure is very similar in body shape and garb to the running woman on the Mount Holyoke pyxis. The wave-shaped or undulating border in these pyxides is the most common, but other shapes do appear, as on a cup by the Painter of Brussels R 330, with a toothed border. Because only the left half of the himation on the Mount Holyoke pyxis is original, it is possible to create an alternate reconstruction, in which the border is not symmetrical but instead has a wave border similar to the Berlin F 2261 and other pyxides. Such an alternate reconstruction can be seen in Figure 42. Based on this, the aberrant nature of the garment is clearly an artifact of yet another poor choice in reconstruction.
If you would like to request the full text, see further figures, or find out more about my experience, please contact me.