The decoration on this Attic lekythos is attributed to the Edinburgh Painter, one of the first major lekythos painters to use a white background instead of the usual red colour of the clay. The white-ground technique was to prevail henceforth in the best-quality lekythoi and on other vase shapes. The representation is of Herkales poised to strike the Nemean Lion with his club, while Athena, Hermes and Iolaos watch on. In myth, the birth, boyhood and youth of Herakles are placed in Thebes, whereas his maturity is placed in the Argolid. His youthful feats in Thebes relate mainly to ancient inter-Boeotian conflicts but sometimes they are variations of his Labours in Argos. In a fit of madness, Herakles had murdered his own children. An oracle delivered at Delphi ordained that to atone for his crime, he was obliged to enter the service of Eurystheus, King of Argos. Eurystheus set him Twelve Labours, the first of which was to exterminate the Lion of Nemea. The representation most probably depicts this Argeian myth, although the possibility that it refers to a Boeotian imitation concerning the extermination of the Lion of Kithairon cannot be precluded. Herakles' struggle with the Nemean Lion is one of the most popular iconographic subjects in the late Attic black-figure style.