2. Punishment of Actaeon

The next scene depicts the punishment of Actaeon, the Boeotian hunter torn to pieces by his own 50 dogs for involuntarily witnessing the bathing virgin goddess Artemis in the Gargaphia spring on Mount Cithaeron. Artemis is sitting on the left, in front of Pan. She is wearing hunting boots and a short tunic, and holding two spears in her hand; at her feet is her gorytos – a case for arrows – and above her head is hanging an overturned wreath – a sign of the inverted world.

Her imperative gesture says: "To punish at once!" The goddess's anger is materializing: Lissa (“rabies” in Greek) is coming alongside. Dressed like Artemis, also with spears in her hands, Lissa is siccing the dogs on Actaeon. The first dog, Arken (from Apollodorus), mistaking Actaeon for a deer, is already digging into his thigh, while the second is jumping onto the hillock. Actaeon, kneeling above the grotto, is fighting the dogs off, but he cannot escape his terrible end.

To the right, Aphrodite is sitting (a unique case in such scenes), while her son Eros is distracting her from talking to a woman next to her: "Mother! Look, Actaeon is tormented by the dogs!" And Aphrodite, dropping her fan, is turning around. In her hands, she has a large vial – a vessel for ritual libations, a symbol of the Base/Chaos as the environment that gives birth to the Cosmos. Under Actaeon there is a tree with three branches – a symbol of rebirth. It is remarkable that both goddesses are relatives of Actaeon; he is the grandson of the Theban queen of Harmony, the daughter of Ares and Aphrodite; and he is the son of the daughter of Harmony, Autonoë, from the magician Aristeus, the son of Apollo. Apollo is Artemis's brother.

Digital reconstruction
Digital reconstruction