Drinking cup (kylix)

Italic, Etruscan
Late Classical Period
380–350 B.C.

Catalogue Raisonné

Vase-Painting in Italy (MFA), no. 168.


10.1 cm (4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Ceramic, Red Figure

Not On View


The Ancient World



Interior: Kneeling female figure (Athena), before whom a man (Herakles) holds an Eros.

Fragment of a Kylix
380-350 B.C.
Interior: A nude male holds the struggling Eros in a tight embrace, as though crushing him. Athena, identified by her aegis and wearing a bordered peplos and shoes, stands at the right, one foot resting on low support. Her right hand rests on her knee. If the object leaning against Athena’s footrest is a club, the man is Herakles,but the identification is not certain.
Beazley (EVP, p. 298) noted the “fine style” and “unique subject.” In the richness and freedom of its composition and in it’s rendering of anatomy, the cup outdoes practically all other Etruscan kylikes, but the surprisingly mannered arrangement of the undulating hemline looks forward to the kylikes of the Clusium Group (cat. no. 169). No ancient author mentions any animosity between Herakles and Eros, but an allegorical meaning may be intended: the hero conquers love, just as he overcomes old age when he attacks Geras. Some Attic vases show Aphrodite punishing the mischievousness of Eros; perhaps the god of love has been caught trying to steal Herakles’ weapons, as the satyrs occasionally are shown doing.


By date unknown: William Norton Bullard Collection; gift of William Norton Bullard to MFA, March 1890

Credit Line

Gift of William Norton Bullard