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Harvard 1960.312


Lent by the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University; bequest of D. M. Robinson (1960.312)

Height: 16 1/8 in. (41 cm.)

Broken and repaired; missing pieces restored and painted.

Side A: Theseus and the Minotaur. Theseus, the legendary hero of Attica, battles the Minotaur, the monster kept by King Minos at Crete and to whom fourteen Athenians, seven men and seven girls, were sent as tribute every nine years. Theseus, dressed in chitoniskos and animal skin, grasps the Minotaur with one arm and stabs it with a short sword. The Minotaur, a man with a bull's head, has fallen to one knee and turns its head away from Theseus. On either side is a female spectator, probably two of the seven girls sent as tribute. They are dressed in embroidered peploi.

Side B: Herakles and the Nemean Lion. The first labor of Herakles was to fight the invulnerable Nemean Lion. The hero is shown nude except for baldric and scabbard. He holds the lion around the neck and strangles it to death (Apollod. 2.1). On the left, Iolaos, Herakles' companion, moves away looking back; on the right Athena, in peplos and helmet, holds a shield (device: tripod).

On the shoulder on either side, two cocks between two hens. Above them, alternating red and black framed tongues. On the neck, palmette-lotus chain. At the handles, tendrils, palmettes, and lotuses. Below the scene, bands of decoration separated by lines: crosses inside half circles separated by vertical lines, lotus buds, red band, rays.

Red: hair and beard of Theseus, beard of Herakles and Iolaos, face and breast of the Minotaur, mane of the lion, parts of the women's peploi, Theseus' chitoniskos, parts of the wings of the fowl, combs and gullets of the roosters, leaves of the palmettes, cuffs of the lotuses, wreath of Athena, upper edge of mouth.

White: female flesh, spots on the Minotaur, hilts of the swords, baldrics of the heroes, dots on the edges of the drapery, device on Athena's shield, base of her helmet plume.

"Near Exekias" [Beazley] ca. 550 - 530 B. C.

The subjects on both sides are especially popular during the middle and third quarter of the sixth century. (On Theseus and the Minotaur see Harvard 1963.69.) Apollodoros tells us that after Herakles strangled the lion, he skinned it with its own claws. He very frequently appears dressed in the lion skin in vase paintings (see Buitron 1972, no. 10).

A neck-amphora (Berlin F 1720; ABV, 143, no. 1) signed by Exekias as potter and painter might be compared with this vase. The greater care with detail and more vigorous action show the difference between the master and the follower.


ABV, 148; Robinson 1956, 60 (1956) 7-9, no. 8, pl. 5; Robinson Exhibition 1961, no. 66; Para., 62.

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  • Cross-references from this page (1):
    • Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library, 2.1
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