Water jar (hydria) with Orpheus attacked by Thracian women

Early Classical Period
about 460 B.C.
the Niobid Painter

Place of Manufacture: Greece, Attica, Athens

Catalogue Raisonné

Caskey-Beazley, Attic Vase Paintings (MFA), no. 107.


Height: 39 cm (15 3/8 in.); diameter: 32 cm (12 5/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Ceramic, Red Figure

On View

Ancient Greece: Greek Theater Gallery (Gallery 215C)


The Ancient World



Orpheus put to death by women of Thrace. Orpheus falling, and raising his lyre against a woman who attacks him; she is followed by two other women; and two women are rushing upon him from the right. Near the vertical handle stand Thracian youths, at either end of the composition.

Inscription: Orpheus

[Label text]:
One version of the myth of Orpheus is illustrated on this vase. Orpheus, king of Thrace, was a famous poet, musician, and vocalist. He is well-known for his marriage to Euridice and his attempt to rescue her from the depths of the Underworld. Plato tells us that Orpheus was sentenced by the gods to be killed at the hands of the Thracian women because he lacked the courage to offer his life in place of his beloved Euridice. This is a variation on the better-known story in which Orpheus dies while bringing Euridice back from Hades. In this scene, the young musician, still clutching his lyre in his right hand, is attacked by several Thracian women bearing various kinds of weapons. Two Thracian men, one wearing a hooded cloak, observe the dramatic scene from their position on the back of this water jar.




According to L, D. Caskey and J. D. Beazley, Attic Vase Paintings in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, entry 107; Shortly before 1879: found in an Etruscan cemetery near Foiano della Chiana on the property of Alfonso del Soldato on the hill rising in front of the Church of S. Francesco, about a hundred paces from the façade; by 1890: with Edward Perry Warren (purchased in Rome); November 4, 1890: gift of Edward Perry Warren to MFA

Credit Line

Gift of Edward Perry Warren