Black-figure hydria

Close to the style of Lysippides"circa 525 BC" - ""

Museum of Cycladic Art

Museum of Cycladic Art
Athens, Greece

A superb black-figure hydria, close to the style of Lysippides, depicting the departure of Herakles for Mt. Olympus. Athena prepares to mount the board of a four-horse chariot (quadriga), while Herakles, holding a club and wearing a lion-skin, appears to be conversing with her. Behind the horses are ivy-wreathed Dionysus and a youthful female figure, perhaps Hebe, while Hermes is busy with the horses' reins. The shoulder panel features a battle scene observed by female figures and hoplites. Another panel below the scene is decorated with a Siren flanked by felines and waterfowl. The subject of Herakles' departure for Olympus symbolizes the hero's transition from the status of mortal to that of an immortal god . His reception on the mountain was completed by his reconciliation with Hera, his old rival and persecutor, and his marriage to her daughter Hebe (=youth). His union with Hebe reflects Herakles' role as protector of eternal youth. Herakles was the most popular mythological figure in Athenian black-figure vase painting from 580 BC onwards, and particularly in the period 560-510 BC. His popularity was certainly due to the presence of the patron goddess Athens in his various Labours, as helpmeet. It is possible, however, that this frequency had political ramifications too: the Athenian tyrant Peisistratos desired to identify himself with the hero, thus claiming the favour of the protectress of the city. The popularity of Herakles dropped dramatically after the toppling of the Athenian tyranny. In art he was largely replaced by the figure of Theseus, who was destined to be the hero of Athenian democracy.


  • Title: Black-figure hydria
  • Creator: Close to the style of Lysippides
  • Creator Gender: None
  • Date Created: "circa 525 BC" - ""
  • Read more: <a href="http://www.cycladic.gr/frontoffice/portal.asp?cpage=resource&cresrc=795&cnode=55&clang=1">Read more</a>
  • Provenance: Unknown
  • Physical Dimensions: h515 mm
  • Period: Archaic period
  • Culture: Greek (Attic)
  • Type: hydria
  • Rights: N.P. Goulandris Foundation - Museum of Cycladic Art, C. Politis Collection, no. 134, http://www.cycladic.gr/frontoffice/portal.asp?cpage=NODE&cnode=25&clang=1
  • External Link: Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens, Greece
  • Medium: clay

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