As the last of his twelve labors, the Greek hero Herakles had to capture Kerberos, the monstrous three-headed dog of Hades. On this black-figure neck-amphora, Herakles holds his club and strides forward, driving the beast before him. With him are two divine helpers, Athena and Hermes. Athena, the goddess of war and patron of heroes, raises her arm in a gesture of greeting, while Hermes aids the hero in his role as guide to the Underworld. In some versions of the myth, Hermes distracted Kerberos with food while Herakles put him on a leash. Perhaps that critical role of Hermes is implied on this vase, because the two visible heads of Kerberos look intently at him.
On the back of the vase, Dionysos, the god of wine, and his wife Ariadne stand flanked by satyrs, half-human companions of the god. Dionysos holds his usual attributes of a drinking horn and an ivy branch. Dionysiac scenes were popular and fitting decoration for vases like this amphora that were used in a symposion or drinking party.