On a simple stage set, an actor costumed as an old man removes the lid of a chest to reveal a bizarre child with a ram's head and a large erection. Looking bewildered, a second old man clasps the child's wrist. This strange scene probably represents a theatrical parody of the mythical birth of Erichthonios. In the myth, Hephaistos, the craftsman god, believing that the goddess Athena was attracted to him, attempted to have sex with her. When she resisted, some of Hephaistos's semen fell on her leg. She wiped it off with a piece of wool and threw it away, accidentally impregnating Ge, the earth. Athena cared for the resulting infant and kept him in a sacred basket on the Athenian Akropolis. In the theatrical version depicted on this vase, the elaborate doorway at the left of the stage probably represents Athena's temple, and the ram's head on the child refers to the wool in the story.
The scene on the front of this Apulian red-figure bell-krater depicts a phlyax play, a type of farce parodying mythology, popular in the Greek colonies in South Italy in the 300s B.C. The actors wear a distinctive costume of mask, tights, padded tunic, and large artificial phallus. The back of the vase bears a much less intriguing scene of three standing youths.