Terracotta lekythos (oil flask)

Attributed to the Phiale Painter

Period: Classical

Date: ca. 440 B.C.

Culture: Greek, Attic

Medium: Terracotta; red-figure

Dimensions: H. 17 7/16 in. (44.3 cm); diameter 5 3/8 in. (13.6 cm)

Classification: Vases

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1917

Accession Number: 17.230.35


Across the body of this red-figure lekythos, Poseidon, the god of the sea, pursues Amymone, one of the fifty daughters of Danaus, the legendary king of Argos. According to Greek myth, Danaus, during his flight to Greece from Egypt, sent Amymone ahead in search of water. It was in the Argolid that Poseidon seduced the fair maiden and created in her honor a spring at Lerna.
Amymone's costume shows the neatly fluted patterning of swallowtail folds–symmetrical folds falling on the bias of a garment and terminating in sharp, sometimes pointed edges. As a design element, the swallowtail fold relies on the intrinsic qualities of cloth, and is free of any technical complication other than the simple release of fabric.