I would like to finish up with a well-known kylix by the Codrus Painter, which shows a theoxenia, a feast of the gods. On the exterior are depicted four pairs of gods (all with names inscribed): Poseidon and Amphitrite; Zeus and Hera; Ares and Aphrodite; and Dionysos and Ariadne. Hades and Persephone (labeled ‘Plouton’, ‘Persephratta’) occupy pride of place in the tondo. John Boardman notes that this is an unusual scene; as a general rule, gods sit or stand, and ‘it was only exceptional demigods who had much to do with mortals and mortal ways, like Dionysus, Hermes and Herakles who might be shown reclining’. T. H. Carpenter takes his cue for the interpretation of the kylix from the one deity here who does commonly recline, Dionysos. Carpenter shows that scenes which show Dionysos and Ariadne reclining evoke both marriage and eroticism, and argues that the imagery used on the Codrus Painter kylix, such as Amphitrite’s alabastron, Aphrodite’s pyxis, and Zeus touching Hera’s veil, similarly ‘allows each to be understood as a couple on its nuptial couch’. The kline is here elevated from symposiastic couch to nuptial couch. Each couple, moreover, is subtly different; Zeus’s gesture refers to the marriage itself; there is a nice irony in the fact that the fickle Aphrodite is the only woman who is standing, not yet seated next to her beloved, and Ares is the only god who is not holding his phiale, having put it down on the table in order to better deal with her. Carpenter notes the way in which Persephone’s feet dangle as she sits on the edge of Plouton’s couch, perhaps referring to her helplessness as his captive. However, she does not look unwilling to be there; her gesture is similar to that of Ariadne, as if she is reaching out to receive the phiale. This leaves us with Plouton – name inscribed, this time – and Persephone in the tondo. Why this particular pair? On the one hand, Hades is the only other major god who is eligible to make a fifth couple (the others are either single – Demeter – chaste – Athena, Artemis – or playing the field – Apollo, Hermes. Hephaistos’ wife, of course, is already present). On the other hand, their placement in the tondo isolates them from the other figures and thus makes a stronger impression than the pairs on the outside – especially as their identity is not revealed until the drinker has polished off his wine and can see the tondo clearly. Tondo images are often used to surprise the viewer and make him reconsider his expectations, and that may be the case here.
– Diana Burton, Hades: Cornucopiae, Fertility and Death