In Greek mythology, Prometheus angered the gods by giving the secret of fire to mankind. In return, the gods punished him by staking him out on a mountainside with an eagle continuously pecking out his liver. The scene on this bell-krater cruelly parodies the myth. Here Prometheus, caricatured with a distended belly and enlarged genitalia, is represented as a feeble, pathetic old man staring down at a bird that looks more like an inquisitive crow than a vicious raptor. This depiction may stem from a theatrical performance, since plays parodying serious mythological themes were quite popular in the 300s B.C. An ivy vine, like those framing the scene on the front, provides the only decoration on the back of the vase. Scholars call pottery made by covering the entire surface of the vase with a black glaze and then adding decoration in bright colors over the glaze Gnathia ware. This type of pottery began to be made in the Greek colonies in Italy around 360 B.C.; the shape of this bell-krater, a vessel used to mix wine and water, indicates that this is an early example of the technique.


  • Title: Bell Krater
  • Date Created: about 360 - 350 B.C.
  • Location Created: Gnathia, South Italy
  • Physical Dimensions: w39.5 x h35 cm
  • Type: Krater
  • Rights: http://www.getty.edu/legal/copyright.html
  • Medium: Terracotta

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