Terracotta lekythos (oil flask), Terracotta, Greek, Attic

Terracotta lekythos (oil flask)

late 4th century B.C.
Greek, Attic
Terracotta; applied relief
H. 5 3/8 in. (13.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Fletcher Fund, 1928
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 171
Telephos, Orestes, and Clytemnestra

Telephos, king of Mysia, was wounded by the Greek hero Achilles during the Greeks' first offensive against Troy. The Delphic oracle told Telephos that he could be healed only by the offending weapon. In an attempt to secure Achilles' help, he sought out Orestes, the young son of Agamemnon, and threatened to kill him. Achilles finally heeded Telephos' entreaties and furnished scrapings of his spear that healed the festering wound.
The story of Telephos was the subject of a play by Euripides performed in 438 B.C. This lekythos is one of several vases inspired by the drama. Here Clytemnestra pleads for her child.
This vase is as noteworthy for the rare scene as for the rendering in low relief.
Richter, Gisela M. A. 1953. Handbook of the Greek Collection. pp. 116, 255, pl. 95d, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Kossatz-Deissmann, Anneliese, Brigitte Servais-Soyez, Fulvio Canciani, Giovannangelo Camporeale, Hans Peter Isler, Ingrid Krauskopf, Odette Touchefeu-Meynier, Marcel Le Glay, and Dr. Jean-Charles Balty. 1994. Oidipous-Theseus, Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae, Vol. 7. Telephos, no. 54, Zürich: Artemis Verlag.