A young man holding a lyre made from a tortoise shell decorates this Athenian red-figure lekythos. He stands resting one hand on a walking stick and wearing only a mantle wrapped over one shoulder. Aristocratic Greek youths were trained in a variety of skills. In addition to athletic training, boys were taught the less strenuous arts of music and poetry, which were considered essential for well-bred youths to master.
Although scholars do not know for certain where this vase was excavated, it was probably one of the huge number of painted vessels exported to Italy in antiquity. An M-shaped graffito scratched under the foot of the lekythos was a trader's mark, used to identify goods in shipment. The same graffito is found on a hydria by the Eucharides Painter found at Cumae in Italy, suggesting that the lekythos was traded to Italy, too.
A lekythos was a vessel used to store and pour precious oil. The design of the vessel, with its narrow neck and bowl-shaped mouth, helped conserve this expensive commodity.