Attic Black-Figure Eye Cup (Main view, side A)


The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

Scenes from the mythological battle between the Olympian gods and the Giants, the children of Earth, and Sky, part of an earlier generation of deities, decorate this black-figure cup. Between the large eyes on one side of the exterior a female figure battles with a giant. Wearing a nebris (animal skin), she should be Artemis, the goddess of the hunt. Under the handles, the hero Herakles, identified by his lionskin, takes on another Giant. The scene is duplicated at the other handle, and in each case, a diminutive figure whose identity is uncertain appears between the duelers. The other side of the cup depicts Athena, the Greek warrior-goddess. She strides to the right, as two opponents emerge from the brows of the large decorative eyes. One wears a soft cap and wields a bow, the other, with a helmet, brandishes a spear. The large staring eyes were a regular feature on Athenian cups at this time, transforming a drinking vessel into a mask. Here, the painter has playfully combined the decorative motif with the narrative imagery.

A winged female deity flies on the interior of the cup. Her identity remains uncertain. She may be Nike, the goddess of victory; Iris, the messenger of the gods; or, perhaps in this context, Eris, the personification of strife.


  • Title: Attic Black-Figure Eye Cup (Main view, side A)
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 550–530 B.C.
  • Location Created: Athens, Greece
  • Physical Dimensions: 12.9 × 39 × 30.2 cm (5 1/16 × 15 5/16 × 11 7/8 in.)
  • Type: Cup
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Terracotta
  • Terms of Use: Open Content
  • Number: 86.AE.169
  • Culture: Greek (Attic)
  • Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California
  • Creator Display Name: Unknown
  • Classification: Vessels (Containers)

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