RealmgART: Red-Figure Thalatta

The Wandering Soul.

Red-figure art of the Amazon Thalatta.

Thalatta” is the Attic form of the Greek word for “sea” — in other forms of Ancient Greek the pronunciation is “thalassa”, with s’s (technically sigmas) instead of t‘s (technically taus). A good name for a sailor, and maybe just a little too on the nose.

Red-figure art of the Amazon Thalatta.

The original version of Thalatta was deliberately anachronistic — ship’s wheels, for example, hadn’t been invented into the Classical period (ships turned either via tiller, or by clever rowing). But then I realised that this is supposed to be an ancient depiction of her, so I had to make her seem more like a Classical sailor rather than a Golden Age of Piracy-era sailor.

This is actually my second attempt at red-figure Thalatta. I wasn’t satisfied with the first version, so I took another go which all in all went pretty well.

Contemporary depictions of actual Ancient pirates (e.g. the Illyrians) are pretty minimal. I did find several modern artists’ depictions of Illyrian pirates (e.g. here), but I’m not sure how credible those depictions are — artistically they’re cool, but they don’t exactly cite their sources.

Now, I just went with basic Classical-style sandals and tunic. Granted this is fairly masculine style of dress, but the Amazons aren’t exactly known to be damsels. Incidentally, I’m not sure if she should be wearing pants as part of that outfit — Greeks and Romans did not like pants, but as the Romans expanded into colder, wetter climes, they did adopt certain styles of pants out of necessity.

I’m not sure if Thalatta is supposed to be a pirate per se, so the treasure chest she’s standing on is mostly there because she needed something. It’s not glaringly anachronistic. They did have crates and lockable boxes in Antiquity. Similarly, while her sword is maybe evocative of the iconic pirate cutlass, there are several documented kinds of curved swords (curved. swords.) from Classical Antiquity.

Not being able to use a ship’s wheel really threw me off…

I repurposed the fish-horse (probably called a hippocampus, not unlike a part of the brain…) from her banner in the first version as one of her emblems, and the ship is a fairly standard Ancient galley — specifically a bireme (two banks of oars); triremes (three banks) are probably better-known, but I couldn’t fit three sets of oars in the image.

Finally, “Anima Errans” means “Wandering Soul.” While errans can kinda have the pejorative connotations that it usually does in English, or the heroic connotations as in errantry, it can also just mean roving or wandering in a very literal and neutral sense.

In this context, you could probably translate the title as “Restless Soul”, which is downright Augustinian

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