Attic Black-Figure Olpe

Chiusi Painterabout 520 - 510 B.C.

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The Greek hero Herakles wrestles Triton, a fish-tailed being, on this Athenian black-figure olpe or pitcher. Herakles, identified by his lionskin, sits astride Triton, who writhes away from the hero, trying to break his grip. The figures are so closely intertwined that it is difficult to tell them apart. The battle of Herakles and Triton first appeared in Greek art about 565 B.C. and was especially popular in the period from about 530 to 510 B.C. No ancient author recorded the story of Herakles and Triton. This lack of literary sources for the depiction and the fact that it appears almost exclusively in Athenian art has led some scholars to look for a special meaning in the scene. The mythological battle may have had symbolic political significance for the Athenians. The tyrants who ruled Athens in this period, Peisistratos and his sons, may have adopted Herakles as their symbol; and the scene may refer to a naval victory of Athens over her neighboring enemy, the city-state of Megara.

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  • Title: Attic Black-Figure Olpe
  • Creator: Chiusi Painter
  • Date: about 520 - 510 B.C.
  • Location Created: Athens, Greece
  • Physical Dimensions: 14 cm (5 1/2 in.)
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Terracotta
  • Source Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California
  • Object Type: Olpe
  • Object Status: Permanent Collection
  • Number: 96.AE.59
  • Display Location: Currently on view at: Getty Villa, Gallery 108A, Mythological Heroes
  • Department: Antiquities
  • Culture: Greek (Attic)
  • Classification: Vessels


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