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Eros and the Arms of Achilles

Stella G. Miller
American Journal of Archaeology
Vol. 90, No. 2 (Apr., 1986), pp. 159-170
DOI: 10.2307/505428
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/505428
Page Count: 15
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Eros and the Arms of Achilles
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Abstract

The occasional appearance in Classical times of Eros in scenes of the bringing of arms to Achilles leads the author to speculate on the possible meaning of this iconography. A fragmentary late fifth-century vase from Olynthus provides important evidence. The suggestion is made that it shows the bringing of Achilles' first armor and that the helpful Erotes in the scene allude to the love-friendship between Achilles and Patroclus. If so, then the iconography forms a visual counterpart to the widespread contemporary interest in the nature of the relationship between the two heroes as attested in literary sources. An iconographic parallel exists in the heterosexual love missions in sea settings which occasionally also combine, less startlingly, Eros and Nereids. It is speculated that the motif is part of a late Classical iconographic vocabulary used to indicate love, male or female, in several different mythological situations taking place in or near the sea.

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