Scenes of combat decorate this Athenian black-figure neck-amphora. On the front of the vase, the Greek hero Theseus battles the Minotaur. The Minotaur, a monster with a bull's head and a human body, lived in a labyrinth on the island of Crete and devoured human sacrifices sent as tribute from Athens. The hero has just stabbed the beast with his sword, and blood streams from the wound. A youth and a girl--representatives of the fourteen youths and maidens saved from sacrifice by Theseus's victory over the monster-stand at each side watching.
The heroic combat on the front is balanced by a scene of mortal warriors on the back of the vase. Two hoplites, or heavily armed soldiers, face off with spears raised, between onlookers. The woman holds a wreath for the victor.
The artists of Group E consciously broke with convention. Although the main scenes on this vase are not unusual, the artists of Group E combined them with new ornamental patterns and placed them on a special form of neck-amphora that they invented, with a wide neck opening and a broad shoulder.