Terracotta hydria (water jar)

Attributed to the Group of B.M. F 308

Period: Late Classical

Date: ca. 340–330 B.C.

Culture: Greek, South Italian, Apulian

Medium: Terracotta; red-figure

Dimensions: H. 29 3/4 in. (75.6 cm)
diameter 17 3/4 in. (45.1 cm)

Classification: Vases

Credit Line: Gift of Miss Matilda W. Bruce, 1907

Accession Number: 07.128.1


Represented here is Hades' abduction of Persephone (Kore). Hades' chariot occupies the central area of the vase; he has already taken Persephone and urges on his horses with the help of a young charioteer. Hekate runs ahead of the chariot, lighting the way to the Underworld with her two torches. Sitting above, Zeus with scepter in hand and Aphrodite accompanied by Eros watch the scene. Below, to the left, Athena and Persephone's mother, Demeter, carrying a cross-bar torch, look upward and run after the chariot, making distraught gestures. Four young warriors, probably Korybantes, one behind the chariot and three below it, also try in vain to rescue Persephone. The trees that appear in the background underscore the connection of the Eleusinian cult with vegetation and agriculture, while Bacchic and Eleusinian afterlife beliefs are replete with images of green grounds and flowery meadows. According to one version of the myth, the abduction of Kore took place on Sicily, where a festival called Kore's Katagoge (bringing down) was widely celebrated. Moreover, Underworld scenes were common on southern Italian funerary vases in the fourth century B.C.