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Digenis Akritas saves a princess abandoned in the desert

Incised Plate. 12th century. Corinth Museum. No. 1685.

A more peaceful episode in the life of Digenis is shown on a plate from Corinth. Returning through the desert from some exploit, the hero came upon a princess who had been abandoned by her lover, one of her father’s prisoners with whom she had eloped. To cap his heartless behaviour the erstwhile prisoner had taken with him not only the gold which the couple had stolen from the father but also the horse. Again the scene is pin-pointed: the crown indicates the young lady’s rank, and the ‘low stool’ on which, according to the epic, Digenis and the princess sat together before taking their leave on the hero’s horse is clearly visible. In the field the rabbit, age-old symbol of love, serves also as a space-filler.

Source: Excavations in the Athenian Agora.
Picture Book No. 7. The Middle Ages in the Athenian Agora (3rd Printing, 1974)
Prepared by Alison Frantz

A man seated on a folding stool embraces the woman on his lap. He may be the Byzantine epic hero Digenes Akritas with his wife Kore or his lover, the Amazon queen Maximo. Their feet and that of the stool are incised outside the central medallion. A rabbit, symbol of lust and fertility, sprints to the right.

Plate with lovers, Probably northern Greece or Eastern Thrace, first half of 13th century glazed earthenware with champlevé decoration, Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth
Source: National Gallery of Art

Other Digenis Akritas plates:
Digenis Akritas fights the Dragon
Digenis Akritas slays the Dragon with five arrows
Digenis Akritas Fights a Beast, Byzantine Sgrafito Plate. 12th century
Digenis Akritas Slays a Wild Animal. Byzantine Bowl Fragment, 11th-12th century. State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.

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