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Heracles and the Lernian Hydra

February 23, 2014

I have written about Heracles and the Lernian Hydra before. You can read my previous post about the myth of this second labor of Heracles here. This is one of my favourite pieces of Athenian red-figure pottery in the British Museum. This stamnos was made in Athens in 480/470 BC and is attributed to the Geras Painter.

2014-02-08 13.27.36

The shape of the vase indicates its use or purpose. The Athenian stamnos was used as a container for the storage and mixing of wine. The term red figure refers to the original colour retained by the people, creatures and patterns represented. The size, shape and position of the handles on a stamnos allowed for two large decorative spaces, front and back. Unfortunately I only have a photo of the one side and no detail is provided by the museum as to what is on the other side. I would be interested to hear if someone knows what is on the opposite side. This is a particularly well preserved stamnos as it is completely intact including it’s original lid. This truly is a beautiful piece of Athenian pottery with an iconic mythological scene depicted.

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From → Artefacts

3 Comments
  1. Rachel Du Croz permalink

    I love this piece too it is so so rare. Have you appealed to the BM to ask about the reverse? Pots usually have a continual freeze so there must something behind, unless it is damaged 😦 and they aren’t letting on… I love the detailing of the hydra it’s so vivid.

    Personally I have always been more of a black figure fan but am definitely feeling the need for a BM trip ASAP!!!!!

    • Hello Rachel, it is such a fantastic piece. I hope it is not damaged and would find it surprising if it were given how well preserved this side is, but you never know. I shall tweet the British Museum to see if they will let me know. If I find out what the image is on the other side I shall amend the post and let everyone know. The skill of the artistic work on all pottery always impresses me. I cannot wait for my next trip to the British Museum either, I am hoping to visit the Ashmolean Museum soon as well.

  2. Alyssa permalink

    The other side of the vase is Herakles and the lion. Found it on a link here: http://www.beazley.ox.ac.uk/xdb/ASP/recordDetails.asp?recordCount=8&start=0

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