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A man kills a man-bull hybrid while other figures look on and parade above.

The vessel has a wide shallow rim and two horizontal handles and one long handle which connects to the rim. In red, black, and yellow there is a scene in two tiers. The lower tier depicts a man stabbing a creature with the body of a man and a head of a bull while four other figures look on and gesture. The upper tier depicts characters marching from right to left with their heads turned toward each other and their arms gesturing in different directions. Some of the characters are nude and have tails. The rest of the vessel is painted all black.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Hydria (water jar): Theseus and the Minotaur
Work Type
550-530 BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Attica
Archaic period
Persistent Link


Level 3, Room 3400, Ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Art, Ancient Greece in Black and Orange
View this object's location on our interactive map

Physical Descriptions

44 x 43 cm (17 5/16 x 16 15/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: Graffiti on the bottom of the foot. Dipinti in red wash on bottom of foot.


Recorded Ownership History
Edith J. Purrington, Edgartown, MA, (by 1963), bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1963.

State, Edition, Standard Reference Number

Standard Reference Number
Beazley Archive Database #4933

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of Edith J. Purrington
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art

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Theseus and the Minotaur. Theseus stands in the center facing right and holds the Minotaur by one horn while stabbing the monster with a short sword. The Minotaur, who kneels near Theseus's feet, raises his right arm in the air as he falls victim to the fatal blow. The two figures are flanked on either side by two pairs of spectators, a woman and a youth. The women both wear long peploi with mantles while the youth are both nude save a chlamys over their shoulders.

On the shoulder are four pairs of dancing satyrs and nymphs. The satyrs are nude with tails while the maenads (female revelers) wear long peploi and fillets decorating their hair.

Added red is used throughout to indicate details, for example, the Minotaur's mane and ornamentation on the peploi.

A black-figure fragment already in the HUAM collection (acc. no. 1977.216.2383), providing a large section of the main scene, was found to join with this hydria by Aaron J. Paul on 30 June 1995. The fragment provides the lower part of the bodies of Theseus, in the center of the hydria's main figure scene, and the Minotaur's right arm and leg to the right, and the drapery and left leg of the youth to the left of the figure scene. The fragment completes the figure scene on the hydria, which, except for a few small minor fragments missing, renders the vase now virtually complete.

Publication History

  • Diana M. Buitron, Attic Vase Painting in New England Collections, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1972), p. 32, no. 12
  • Alan W. Johnston, Trademarks on Greek Vases: Addenda, Aris and Phillips (Warminster, England, 2006)

Exhibition History

  • Attic Vase Painting in New England Collections, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 03/01/1972 - 04/05/1972
  • [Teaching Exhibition], Hood Museum of Art, Hanover, 08/01/1995 - 01/01/1997
  • Fragments of Antiquity: Drawing Upon Greek Vases, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 03/15/1997 - 12/28/1997
  • 32Q: 3400 Greek, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

  • Google Art Project

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Verification Level

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at