Kylix (drinking cup), ca. 480 b.c.; red–figure
Attributed to the Briseis Painter
Greek, Attic, Classical
Terracotta; H. 5 3/16 in. (13.2 cm), W. with handles 15 3/8 in. (39.1 cm), Diam. 12 1/16 in. (30.7 cm)
Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1953 (53.11.4)
Exterior: Theseus in Poseidon's undersea palace
Interior: Theseus's arrival in Athens
The subject of the decoration is elucidated in a poem by Bacchylides, active in the fifth century B.C. In this story, while in transit to Crete, King Minos, doubting Theseus's lineage from the sea god Poseidon, threw his ring into the sea and instructed Theseus to fetch it. Theseus dove into the water and was transported by two dolphins to the undersea palace of Poseidon, where Theseus met the sea god's wife, Amphitrite, who bestowed upon Theseus an intricately embroidered purple robe and crown. Once Theseus returned to the ship laden with gifts, King Minos was unable to deny the hero's parentage. In this depiction of the poem, Poseidon is also present in the undersea palace. On the other side, the victorious Theseus is welcomed back to Athens by Athena.