Krater, attributed to the Painter of the Birth of Dionysos
Taranto, Italy
Classical period, about 400BCE
Pottery; H. 91 cm
Inv. A.1018

In Southern Italy, potters developed a ceramic art largely inspired by Attica vases but adapted to the regional culture, which arose from close contact between Greek immigrants and the local populations. Such vases have been found for the most part in tombs. The scene depicted here reflects this funerary function: after his death, Heracles, recognizable by his lion skin and club, is being taken to Olympus in the chariot of Athena, his protecting goddess. Below this is Dionysos surrounded by bacchantes and satyrs at a banquet. At the time this krater was made, the cult of Dionysos was often looked upon as promising happiness after death, and so everything in the picture evokes the assurance of a happy afterlife – a belief that was widespread in southern Italy. The shape of this large krater, originally meant for mixing water and wine, is inspired by metalwork, for instance the cut-out spiral handles ornamented with duck’s heads.


Discover this masterpiece in the gallery Greece in the book Masterpieces of the Cinquantenaire Museum.