In JHS xciv (1974) 38 ff. (with Plates IV–V), J. G. Griffith discusses the subject-matter of the scene on the late fourth-century amphora discovered in 1949 at Panagjurischte in Bulgaria, in which a group of four determined-looking men armed only with swords attacks a house-door which has just been half-opened by a startled servant of diminutive stature. Connected, apparently, with the assault is a trumpeter, and finally there is another pair (not obviously involved in the action) consisting of a bearded figure, taken to be a seer since he holds ‘a liver, lobe and all’, which he shows to his more youthful companion.
Griffith has little difficulty in exposing the improbability of earlier attempts to identify a mythological scene—Achilles discovered at Scyros, the Seven against Thebes, or the preliminaries to the murder of Neoptolemus at Delphi, and proposes a novel view that the attackers are komastai, whether the occasion is a ‘genre-scene’ from comedy, or a characteristic scene from real life, in either of which cases help in identifying the individuals would be unnecessary and irrelevant. But I must confess that I find this proposal far-fetched: the attempts to account also for the trumpeter and seer are desperate enough, but he really fails to make a credible case for the use of swords in such escapades, even granted the violence often referred to in literary evidence about the komos, whether fisticuffs among rivals for the favours of the courtesan or mistress, or the use of cudgels, levers and torches to break down, or burn, the door by the ‘exclusus amator’.