Corinthian Aryballos

Unknownfirst quarter of 6th century B.C.

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

The Greek hero Herakles battles the Lernean Hydra on this Corinthian black-figure aryballos. In the second of the labors assigned by King Eurystheus, Herakles was required to destroy the Hydra, a monster with numerous snaky heads, one of which was immortal. Shown in profile, and accompanied by his companion Iolaos, Herakles grasps one head while stabbing at the creature with his sword. His protectress the goddess Athena stands behind the hero, gesturing her support with raised hands. Painted inscriptions identify all of these figures. Under the vase's handle, decorated with the head of a woman, a chariot with a charioteer stands waiting to carry off the victorious hero. An aryballos was a vessel used to store and carry perfumed oil, which was frequently used for bathing in the Greek world. Most Corinthian pottery at this time was decorated with rows of animals; narrative scenes such as this one are less common. Among scenes depicting Herakles' labors, however, the Lernean Hydra was a favorite with Corinthian vase-painters.


  • Title: Corinthian Aryballos
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date: first quarter of 6th century B.C.
  • Location Created: Corinth, Greece
  • Physical Dimensions: 11.2 x 11.7 cm (4 7/16 x 4 5/8 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: Aryballos
  • Object Status: Permanent Collection
  • Number: 92.AE.4
  • Inscription: Inscription: Inscribed in the Corinthian alphabet with the names of the figures represented: Athena, Herakles and Iolaos. Iolaos is named a second time with his patronymic, Wiphikledas. These inscriptions were translated by Ken Hamma.
  • Display Location: Currently on view at: Getty Villa, Gallery 108A, Mythological Heroes
  • Department: Antiquities
  • Culture: Greek (Corinthian)
  • Classification: Vessels


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