Terracotta kylix (drinking cup)

Attributed to the Briseis Painter

Period: Classical

Date: ca. 480 B.C.

Culture: Greek, Attic

Medium: Terracotta; red-figure

Dimensions: H. 5 3/16 in. (13.2 cm)
width with handles 15 3/8 (39.1 cm)
diameter 12 1/16 in. (30.7 cm)

Classification: Vases

Credit Line: Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1953

Accession Number: 53.11.4


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.