Then, we went inside the Archaeological Museum of Arezzo where, in addition to a wide array of Etruscan objects, we found two rather important red-figure vases. The first was one of the most famous images of Pelops and Hippodamia.
But more surprising than this was a Krater from around 500 BCE attributed to the Euphronios painter depicting Herakles’ battle with the Amazons.
This angle is not that odd: the Amazons are dressed like Skythians and Herakles looks like Herakles. What surprised me was the hero fighting back-to-back with Herakles. I expected Theseus, or maybe even Herakles’ nephew Iolaus. But this Hero is labeled by the painter as Telamon, the father of Ajax:
The details are a bit easier to tell from the thumbnails available at Perseus. Telamon is often paired with Herakles’ expedition against Troy. But I had never encountered a detail of his participation in the Amazonomachy. Perhaps Eurphronios is imagining that the pair went to fight the Amazons together on the same trip against Troy. Whatever the case, this nicely illustrates the flexibility in myth available to the vase-painters of the Late Archaic and Early Classical ages.
Several smart readers on the blog and twitter pointed out that Herakles and Telamon sacked Troy together, which is good. I got up today and went to the library and consulted the LIMC (Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae) and found that there are a handful of images of Herakles and Telamon fighting the Amazons in Black Figure and Red Figure vases. Two other red figure vases dated to the beginning of the fifth centuries also have pretty similar iconography.
The positioning of the figures is similar–the biggest difference among the three vase images is whether Telamon is striking the Amazon (or in the process) and the sigil on his shield. For comparison, consider this earlier image:
So, I still don’t have a text to tell me the story, but it is pretty clear that this was a popular enough motif during the 6th-5th Centuries BCE.