Height: 12.750 cm
Diameter: 33.000 cm
GR 1850.3-2.3 (Vases E 84)
Room 19: Greece: Athens
Red-figured cup attributed to the Kodros Painter
Greek, about 440-430 BC
Made in Athens, Greece; found at Vulci, (Lazio, Italy)
Theseus, the all-Athenian hero
The decoration of both the inside and the outside of this cup is dedicated entirely to illustrations of the deeds of the Athenian hero, Theseus. In the tondo (central circular panel) he drags the dead or dying Minotaur from the Labyrinth of Knossos, its maze of passages suggested by the meander squares that decorate the vertical panel at its entrance. Around this Theseus tackles (clockwise from the top) Kerkyon, Prokrustes, Skiron, the Bull of Marathon, Sinis and the Krommyonian Sow. The same groups (with the exception of the Minotaur) are shown on the outside of the cup, in corresponding positions, but seen from the other side.
Theseus was the embodiment of all that the Athenians thought best and most distinctive about themselves. While his deeds were as physically challenging as those of Herakles, he was also an intellectual and a statesman. He was credited with the establishment of the Panathenaic Festival of Athens and also with the political consolidation of Attica and the foundation of Athenian democracy.
M. Robertson, The art of vase-painting in Cl (Cambridge, 1992)
L. Burn, Greek myths (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)
J. Boardman, Athenian red figure vases: t-1 (London, The British Museum Press, 1989)