Oil flask (squat lekythos) depicting Nike sacrificing a bull between Ares and Aphrodite

Classical Period
about 394–390 B.C.

Place of Manufacture: Greece, Attica, Athens


Height: 15.2 cm (6 in.); diameter: 8.4 cm (3 5/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Ceramic, Red Figure with added white, added clay lines, dilute glaze and traces of gilding

Not On View


The Ancient World



Nike grasps a bull, which has been driven to its knees, as she holds a knife to its neck. Aphrodite is seated at the right, wearing a sleeveless chiton and holding a shield and spear. At the left Ares stands wearing a Corinthian helmet with long crest and supports a shield and spear place on the ground. The shield is trimmed with a wave pattern. An elaborate palmette and tendril pattern fills the area below the handle and spreads out over the rear third of the vase. A laurel wreath circles above the figures, and a tongue pattern forms the ground line. Elongated tongues circle the neck.
Bull and flesh of female figures painted white. Details of white areas added in dilute glaze, and brush strokes model Ares’ shield. Added clay: details of wing, hair ribbons and neecklaces of Nike and Aphrodite, spears, wreath on helmet, olives in wreath above the figures, centers of scrolls below handle. Gilding would probably have covered the areas with added clay.
The weapons would be appropriate for Aphrodite, as venerated in the Piraeus, whose temple was built by the admiral Conon after he defeated the Spartan fleet off Cnidos in 394 B.C. Aphrodite was the patron goddess Cnidos, and she must have been regarded as favoring the Athenians on the day of the battle. (Herrmann, Shadow of the Acropolis, cat. no. 22)


By 1895: with Edward Perry Warren (according to Warren's records: purchased in 1895 from a Greek who said it was from Eretria); 1898: purchased by MFA from Edward Perry Warren for $ 69,618.13 (this figure is the total price for MFA 98.641-98.940)

Credit Line

Henry Lillie Pierce Fund