Disclaimer: The characters of Dr. Janice Covington and Melinda Pappas belong exclusively to MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended through the writing of this piece.
Subtext Warning: Thisll be a first, nope, not in this one, sorry.
Authors Notes: This story was inspired by one of my favourite Attic Red Figure wine cups, I havent got a degree in Classical Archaeology for nothing you know! It is dated to c. 490 B.C and is by the so called Brygos Painter. I thought I could work Xena into this somehow
Feedback: I still am and will always be at email@example.com
The Brygos Painter Does Xena
Janice sat staring at the small crate that had been delivered to her office that morning. Despite her normal reserved nature, she was aching to attack the small tacks that secured the lid of the crate in place. She had been waiting for this delivery for months, and now was not a good time for Melinda Pappas to decide to turn up late for work. She drummed her fingers frustratedly on the top of her desk and glanced at the clock on the wall. The Southerner should have been there hours ago. Irritated, she dragged a cigarillo from her breast pocket and lit it, puffing clouds of smoke out into the room.
"Cmon Melinda, weve gotta open this together." she sighed, rolling the cigarillo between her fingers as she stared at the glowing tip.
The object within the crate had originated somewhere in Attica, its exact provenance was not known, however, it was near complete, Janice knew that much. She had purchased the item off the antiquities market with funding she had gained from various granting bodies. She wanted to identify the school of painter that the object was liable to be attributed to.
By the time Janice had almost finished her cigarillo, Melinda came bursting into the room, short of breath.
"Well," the small archaeologist intoned, stubbing out the remains of her stogie, "its about time." She said dryly.
The Southerner grinned sheepishly and adjusted her glasses, "Sorry," she said, noticing the crate on Janices desk, "It came?"
Janice nodded slowly, "Its been sitting here for the last few hours Melinda, where the hell were you?"
"Would you believe I slept in?" she asked.
Janice rolled her eyes briefly, "No, you are too efficient to do that, but if you dont want to tell me what youve been doing, fine."
"Now Janice, its not that, but Id rather not tell you."
"Whatever." the archaeologist dismissed the comment, storing it for future reference as she opened a desk draw and retrieved a small tack hammer. "How about we get this thing open then?"
Mel nodded and dumped her coat on the back of a chair before sitting on the edge of the seat to watch Janice attack the lid of the crate.
A few moments later, the lid was free and Janice was throwing bits of packing excitedly over the office. Mel had never seen the small woman so animated as when she got her hand on a new object for the museum, and this object would prove to be an excellent addition to the existing collection.
"Gloves Janice." Mel muttered as the archaeologist thrust her hand eagerly once more into the interior of the crate. The woman look up, a blank expression on her face until she realised what Mel had said.
"Yeah right." Janice said through a smile, she was always forgetting her cotton gloves when handling object, and Mel was always reminding her. It was a running joke between the two of them, that if the museum was burgled, Janice would be arrested since her prints were bound to be on the majority of the objects.
Rummaging in her desk draw once more, Janice retrieved the gloves in question and pulled them on before delving back into the crate.
Carefully, she lifted the artefact clear. It was in excellent condition, just a few minor chips taken from the base and rim.
Janices jaw dropped as she examined the applied decoration on the exterior of the vessel, running around the body of the cup, which was, in a way, shaped like a bowl with a foot. Melinda squinted at the archaeologists expression before rising to move to the table in order to get a better look.
"Oh my!" she said raising a hand to her mouth in order to stifle a laugh. "We you aware of the ah imagery before you organised to purchase the vessel Janice?" the Southerner asked, unable to stop the smirk appearing on her lips.
"No, I wasnt." the archaeologist answered clearly, turning the vessel this way and that in order to appreciate the extent of the scene.
"Obviously Dionisyian." Mel mumbled, pointing at the illustration of two naked figures entwined in what could be described in no other way than erotic. "Just look at the size of that?" the Southerner continued in awe.
"Mel, its a satyr, its meant to be exaggerated." Janice dead panned, referring to the rather large erect phallus that an excited satyr was attempting to thrust into an unsuspecting maenad, a stupid grin on his ugly face.
"Yes, but how many of them are there?"
Janice scrutinised the vessel for a moment, "Three that I can see."
"All after one maenad?"
Mel shook her head, "Still the glaze is in a good condition, no degradation of the red paste at all. Some of the applied white has eroded, but over all, its quite impressive."
Janice swallowed as she turned the vessel around to look at the internal decoration at the centre of the base of the cup. She whistled low and long before glancing at Mel. The Southerner raised an eyebrow and glanced at the tondo.
"Oh." was all she said.
Janice was nodding. Gracing the centre of the base of the interior was a circular border in a meander pattern, within this was illustrated two figures. Janice smiled out of the side of her mouth. One of the figures was tall and dark, wearing armour. The other was small and scantily clad. Both were female. Now there was nothing so unusual in this as far as Janice could see, apart from the fact that the tall figure was leaning over drunkenly into the supporting arms of the smaller figure.
"Janice?" Mel asked after a moment of staring.
"Is that applied white supposed to be there?" she queried, referring to a stream of white paint originating from the tall womans mouth.
"I think so, doesnt look like its leached from under the black glaze." the archaeologist mused.
"What is it then?"
Janice cleared her throat, "Looks like vomit Mel."
"Uh-huh, and thats not all, we have the names, look." The archaeologist said, pointing to the names inscribed in an arc beside each figure.
Mel looked more closely for a moment before straightening, "Well thats interesting." she mused.
"What are they?" the archaeologist asked, a little impatient.
"Well," the translator was stalling.
"Spit it out Mel." Janice demanded.
Mel grinned before she spoke, "Xena and Gabrielle."
Janice almost dropped the artefact to the floor, "What?"
"You heard what I said Janice, its an illustration of Xena vomiting on Gabrielles feet after a drunk and debauched night or day."
Janice glared at the Southerner as if she was a liar.
"Its the truth Janice, I swear."
Janices shoulders slumped ever so slightly, "Well that brings them down a rung or two."
"Not at all Janice."
"What do you mean?" the archaeologist asked, a frown creasing her brow.
"Well, think about it, the illustration is at the base of the wine cup."
"So?" Janice spat out in a frustrated tone.
"Well, its a pretty big wine cup, about what, twelve inches across and five deep?" the Southerner asked.
"About that, so, it held a lot of wine, would have been used in a Dionisyian festival, large dinner party, orgy, something like that."
"Exactly, its telling the party or orgy goers something."
"Im serious, this vessel basically says you drink too much wine, youre going to be sick, get to the bottom of this one and leave it."
Janice looked incredulously at the Southerner a moment before speaking, "Alcohol is dangerous to your health?" she asked.
"Something like that." the Southerner finished with a grin.
Not very good, I know, but it was stuck in my head. The is a cup entitled "Youth Vomiting" by the Brygos Painter, and the above described interpretation is the current accepted theory.
Until next time,
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