Terracotta calyx-krater (bowl for mixing wine and water)

Attributed to the Nekyia Painter

Period: Classical

Date: ca. 450–440 B.C.

Culture: Greek, Attic

Medium: Terracotta; red-figure

Dimensions: H. 15 5/8 in. (39.7 cm)
diameter 16 3/4 in. (42.5 cm)

Classification: Vases

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1908

Accession Number: 08.258.21


This vase illustrates Herakles' final and certainly most difficult labor– fetching Kerberos, the three-headed watchdog of the Greek Underworld. In the upper zone, Herakles and his guide Hermes stand beside Theseus and Perithous, both of whom were punished for attempting to carry off Persephone, the wife of Hades. Hades, ruler of the Underworld, is shown behind Perithous.
Around the circumference of the vase are other heroes, with their names inscribed, known chiefly from Homer's Iliad and Odyssey. The two scenes in the lower zone depict other punishments featured in Greek myths.