Fragmentary terracotta column-krater (bowl for mixing wine and water)
Attributed to Lydos
ca. 560 B.C.
Height (height of main composition): 11 7/16 in., 25.8 mm (29 × 257.5 cm)
Height (height of frieze below): 3 3/4 in. (9.5 cm)
Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and Dietrich von Bothmer, Christos G. Bastis, The Charles Engelhard Foundation, and Mrs. Charles Wrightsman Gifts, 1997 (1997.388a-eee)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan P. Rosen, 1996 (1996.56a,b)
Gift of Dietrich von Bothmer, 1997 (1997.493)
One side, Hephaistos on a donkey accompanied by satyrs and maenads Under one handle, satyrs filling a krater, satyrs and maenads Under the opposite handle, satyr filling a vase at a volute-krater, maenad with wineskin Below, Herakles driving the cattle of Geryon
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is exceptionally fortunate in being able to juxtapose two monumental depictions of the same subject, on the same shape, by the same superlative artist. The complete column-krater 31.11.11 presents the two protagonists, Hephaistos and Dionysos, as focal points on opposite sides. The gods are thoroughly integrated, however, into the line of satyrs and maenads who advance at a deliberate pace; one can almost hear their heavy steps. While every figure is characterized by his pose and painstakingly articulated, there are no identifying inscriptions. And although there is the paraphernalia of drinking—wineskins and drinking horns—everyone is sober. The fragmentary krater 1997.388a–eee offers a decidedly more vivacious interpretation. However incomplete, the sections below the handles make clear that wine is being liberally dispensed, and the central portion with Hephaistos depicts some of the consequences. Moreover, there are numerous inscriptions giving the names of the figures and identifying the donkey. The well-preserved surface shows not only the fine incision but also the liberal application of red and white color. The zone of cattle that circumambulate the krater below the main scene might appear to be simply the continuation of an earlier tradition. Through the addition of Herakles, however, the subject has been transformed into one of the hero's labors. Herakles journeyed to the distant home of the three-bodied Geryon and killed him in order to obtain his herd of cattle.
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