- Museum number
Pottery: red-figured kylix showing the deeds of Theseus.
Interior: Within a circle of pattern consisting of sets of three maeanders separated by chequer squares, Theseus slaying the Minotaur. Theseus, with drawn sword in right, moves to left, looking back, and dragging with his left hand the Minotaur by the left horn out of a building. The Minotaur has apparently fallen forward, dying: only his head, right arm, and body to waist are visible, the rest being concealed behind the building: the surface of his bull's head and human body are covered with brown strokes, indicating hair. The building is represented by a Doric fluted column with entablature and triglyphs, forming a porch to the main building, which is itself represented by a broad vertical stripe of pattern, consisting of alternate labyrinth (?) patterns and chequer squares; this is partly cut off by the border of the design. In this, as in all the other scenes, Theseus is beardless and wears a fillet and a sword-belt with scabbard.
Round the central design is a frieze composed of a series of groups representing six more of the Labours of Theseus in the following order, starting from the left handle and proceeding from left to right: (i) The sow of Crommyon springs upward to right against Theseus, who advances with sword drawn back and left hand raised and wrapped in a mantle as a shield. Beside the sow, in the background, an old woman stands, bending forward, with both arms outstretched towards Theseus, the left resting on a long staff with forefinger extended; she has a long chiton and a mass of white hair; her face is wrinkled, and the flesh of her arms covered with strokes, indicating hair. She is probably Crommyon, the personification or wood-nymph (see Loeschcke, loc. cit.) of the locality, (ii) Kerkyon: Theseus (on left) has gripped with his right the left arm and with his left the right side of his opponent, and, drawing the other's body towards him, throws Kerkyon backwards across his thighs: the left arm of Kerkyon hangs uselessly behind the back of Theseus, and with his right he vainly tries to loosen Theseus' grasp of his side. He has a short beard and hair and a fillet, and is bald over the forehead. Beside this group, a club hanging up and a spear or staff resting on end obliquely against the background. (iii) Procrustes has fallen backwards to left on his bed, supporting himself with his right hand, and, with left hand and foot feebly raised, tries to ward off the blow which Theseus, swinging over his back the double axe (pelekys), is dealing him. Procrustes has rough shaggy hair and beard: the bed is marked off into lengths by curved strokes of brown, (iv) Skiron: Theseus on left in three-quarter back view, swings over his head the foot-pan (podanipter) to strike down Skiron, who has fallen backwards to right on the hill in an attitude balancing that of Procrustes in iii: he is bald over the forehead, and has shaggy hair and beard; on the summit of the hill, beside Skiron, is a willow (?) tree; at the foot is the tortoise, half seen, as though climbing up out of water, (v) The Marathonian bull, charging violently to right, is checked by Theseus, who, with right leg supported against a rock and left knee pressed against the bull's shoulder, throws his weight back on a cord in his left which is fastened to the animal's horns, and throws it back on its haunches; in his right he holds a club, (vi) Sinis Pityocamptes, seated on a hill-top beside a tall pine-tree, is dragged to left by Theseus, who has seized him by the right arm in one hand and with the other draws down the top of the pine-tree. Sinis has thrown one arm around the pine and presses his right foot against the rock in scene v: with his left foot drawn up he struggles to rise: his body and this leg are towards the spectator. At the foot of the hill the outline of a tortoise has been drawn in error and left unfinished; the hill conceals the hind legs of the sow in i.
Exterior: Here the six scenes just described are repeated in their corresponding positions; each figure, however, standing immediately below the corresponding one of the interior, so that here the relative positions are reversed. There are slight differences in points of detail: in (i) the left hand of Crommyon leaning on the staff is drawn back; in (ii) Kerkyon is characterised as a pancratiast by the bruised face and large shapeless ear; between (i) and (ii) hang a pilos; in (v) the rock is not shown; and in (vi) no hill is given, Sinis merely kneels to right on the ground-line, out of which the pine-tree grows: here again his body is en face, and his bent right leg is drawn in bold foreshortening. The human opponents of Theseus throughout all the scenes have an irregular profile and wrinkled forehead, in contrast to the regular outline of the face of Theseus.
On the bottom of the foot engraved characters.
Purple (or vermilion, ? now faded to grey) is used for the leaves of trees, strings of pilos, and cord tied to bull; white for the hair of Crommyon. Brown inner markings for anatomy, surface of hills, tortoise-shell, and skin of Minotaur, &c. The eye is of the realistic profile type. Below the exterior scenes is a band of pattern like that round the interior medallion; below each handle an ornament formed by a palmette resting on one half seen, with side tendrils.
- Production date
- 440BC-430BC (circa)
Diameter: 33.02 centimetres
Height: 12.70 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- BM Cat. Vases
J.H.S. ii, pl. 10 (interior scenes only), p. 57 = Harrison and Verrall, p. cxv, fig. 25; Museo Ital. iii, p. 235t, and 237, note 7; Müller, Theseusmetopen, p. 18, no. 86; cf. Roscher, vol. ii, p. 1451 s.v. Krommyon; and Loeschcke, Dorpater Progr. 1887, pp. 2, 3.
Drawing in the style of Æson (cf. Ant. Denkm. ii. (1892), pl. 1: and Gerhard, A. V. iv, pl. 327-8).
For engraved characters, see Old Catalogue pl. Β824*; and cf. BM Vase Ε81.
For the whole vase, cf. the similar kylix in Cat. Harrow School Museum, p. 18, no. 52, where the designs are repeated on exterior and interior. Many of the motives are identical with those of the cup of Æson. For the arrangement of the scenes, cf. Hartwig, Meistersch. p. 585, note.
- On display (G19/dc1)
- Much broken, and edges of fragments damaged: but little missing, and surface otherwise in good condition.
- Acquisition date
- Greek and Roman
- Registration number