Campania – Greeks, Etruscans, Samnites

The first settlements that the Greeks established in Italy were on the bay of Naples, for example Kymai (Cumae), which was founded in the 8th century BC. In other parts of Campania, for example in Capua, the other significant artistic centre, the influence of the Etruscans was more dominant. 

Following Greek and Etruscan custom, important buildings were decorated in Campania with terracotta roof tiles (antefixes). The terrifying apotropaic Gorgoneion is a frequent motif (1–2): in Campania, the Gorgon’s animal features were marked not only by its tusks, but also by the mane that frames the female face and resembles a beard. The heads were first encircled with ornate leafy wreaths in Capuan workshops in the mid-6th century BC (1–3), which quickly spread in Campanian Greek cities and in Etruria. 

In the 420s BC, Capua and Cumae were both occupied by the Samnites, which resulted in their cultural traditions becoming even more varied. Workshops using the red-figure vase- painting technique were established already under Samnite rule. The two vases (4–5) were created by the same artisan in Cumae: they are linked by features like the unique shape of the left feet of the female figures, and their unusually high seating positions. The warrior standing by the funerary post wears Samnite clothes (4), his short tunic tied with a wide belt. Original examples of such belts have also survived (6).