Terracotta squat lekythos (oil flask)

Greek, Attic

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 159

Philoktetes on Lemnos

The painter, as yet unidentified, has created an exceptionally expressive composition on this vase. It concerns Philoktetes, a Greek hero who inherited the arrows of Herakles, thus their prominence here. In the story of the Trojan War, these arrows were necessary for the conquest of the city. On the way from Greece, Philoktetes was bitten by a snake that had caused such a painful and foul-smelling wound that he had to be left on the island of Lemnos. Philoktetes, downcast, sits under a barren tree and holds his bandaged foot—a picture of utter despondency. Ultimately, he will be rescued and healed.

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

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