Main panel: Athena, upper half

Main panel: bow and quiver

Main panel: Herakles and the Bull

Main panel: Athena and Herakles

Overview: handle left

Main panel: Herakles and the Bull, upper halves

Collection: Cambridge, Harvard University Art Museums
Summary: Herakles and the Cretan Bull
Ware: Attic Black Figure, White Ground
Date: ca. 500 BC - ca. 480 BC

H. 0.211 m.; Diam. 0.147 m.

Shape: Oinochoe
Period: Late Archaic


Unbroken; minor abrasions; lower body misfired red.

Decoration Description:

The entire vase is black except for a panel on the front, which is coated with smooth white slip, over which the designs are executed in black-figure. The setting is Crete. Herakles is wrestling the Cretan bull, which he will capture and bring to Greece as the seventh of his Twelve Labors. The bull has fallen to its front knees, its head on the ground. Herakles bends over it from the left, his left leg advanced, both hands grasping the bull's shoulders. He is nude except for a red fillet and a red baldric, the latter supporting the sword on his left hip. His beard is red, as are the breast of the bull and three stripes on its hindquarters. Herakles' bow and quiver hang in the field behind him; the quiver has red stripes. Athena, Herakles' divine patron, sits on a folding stool at left. She holds out her left arm toward the hero and holds a spear in her right hand. Her aegis, red-striped and fringed with snakes, covers her left arm. She also wears a peplos, a red-striped himation, and a Corinthian helmet circled by a red fillet and having a stilted crest with a red stripe. The ivy vines that snake throughout the background do not have any Dionysiac meaning, but rather are a common filling motif on minor black-figure vases of this period. Framing the top of the panel is a broad band of lotus buds: pointing downward, linked by tendrils, and with dots in the interstices. Above the panel, a red stripe circles the neck.

Shape Description:

Oinochoe of shape 3, a.k.a. a chous: globular body, tapering above to a trefoil mouth; wide torus foot; ridged handle.

Collection History:

Bequest of Henry W. Haynes. Former inventory no. 2260.

Sources Used:

CVA, Fogg-Gallatin.

Other Bibliography:

CVA, Fogg-Gallatin, 39, pl. 21, 9.