Two fragments of a terracotta skyphos (deep drinking cup)

Attributed to the Palermo Painter

Period: Classical

Date: ca. 420–400 B.C.

Culture: Greek, South Italian, Lucanian

Medium: Terracotta; red-figure

Dimensions: H. 11 1/2 in. (29.2 cm)
diameter 16 in. (40.6 cm)

Classification: Vases

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1912

Accession Number: 12.235.4


Incomplete though it is, this beautiful work illustrates the South Italian predilection for large vases and the ample surface they provide for decoration. The goddess Athena invented the double flutes but rejected them because her face was disfigured when she played them. The satyr Marsyas mastered the instrument and in time challenged the god Apollo to a contest. Marsyas lost and was flayed for his presumption. On one side of the skyphos, Artemis and Leto, sister and mother of Apollo, face the satyr, who leans on a pillar inscribed with his name and holds a large knife, foreshadowing his grim fate. The other side preserves much of Athena, with her martial attributes, seated pensively on a rock.