Eurycleia recognises Odysseus

First | Previous Picture | Next Picture | Last


Odysseus has his feet washed; red figure, 5th century Attic skyphos

Odysseus, wearing his characteristic conical sailor's cap, with mantle loosely wrapped around him, is depicted as a beggar carrying food in a basket and wine in a skin on the end of a stick, to which, at the other end, a wallet, or perhaps a small cooking vessel is attached.

Leaning on his beggar's staff, he holds out his left foot to be washed in a bronze pan by his nurse (Antiphata - written backwards; is the artist perhaps thinking of Anticleia, Odysseus' mother?). She is dressed in the single garment of a serving woman, and kneels holding his foot over the pan. She has just discovered the wound, and looks up to recognise her master. Behind her stands Eumaus clad in a mantle wrapped round his waist.

The artist does not follow Homer's description: according to Homer, Odysseus was sitting, not standing; the nurse was old, not young, and was called Eurycleia, not, as here, Antiphata; and it was Penelope present, not, as here, Eumaus.