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 important vase illustrates one of the stories that would have been sung or recited. To atone for having killed his wife and children in a fit of madness, Herakles entered the service of King Eurystheus of Tiryns, who imposed twelve tasks on him. The most difficult was to fetch Kerberos, the watchdog of the underworld. In the upper zone, Herakles with his guide, Hermes, stands beside Theseus and Perithoos, who were punished for attempting to carry off Persephone. Hades, the king of the underworld, is shown behind Perithoos. Around the circumference of the vase appear other heroes known chiefly from the Iliad and the Odyssey, each with his name inscribed. The two scenes in the lower zone depict further mythological punishments.