The J. Paul Getty Museum

"White-on-Red" Ware pithos with Lid

Object Details


"White-on-Red" Ware pithos with Lid


Workshop of the Calabresi Urn (Etruscan, active 650 - 625 B.C.)




Etruria (Place Created)


650–625 B.C.



Object Number:



100.7 × 56 cm (39 5/8 × 22 1/16 in.)

Credit Line:

Gift of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman

See more

See less

Object Description

A scene from The Odyssey, by the Greek poet Homer, decorates this lidded Etruscan pithos or large storage vessel. Odysseus and his men were trapped in the cave of Polyphemos, a Cyclops who was devouring them one by one. In order to escape, the Greeks got the giant drunk and then put out his single eye with a sharpened stake.

The myth of Odysseus was extremely popular in Etruria. Here, the unknown artist has placed a large amphora between the Greeks and Polyphemos as a reference to the wine that Odysseus tricked the giant into drinking. He also emphasized the force of the attack by showing the Greeks leaning forward as they drive in the stake. On the back of the vase a pair of horses and a lion with its prey, a small deer, hanging from its mouth are interspersed with odd-looking plants.

Pithoi were used for the storage of both liquids and dry goods. They were often sunk into the ground to make their contents more easily retrievable. Such a purely utilitarian role does not agree with the elaborate decoration of this vessel. Some scholars believe that ornate pithoi, such as this one, may have had a funerary function.

- 1996

Barbara Fleischman and Lawrence Fleischman, American, 1925 - 1997 (New York, New York), donated to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1996.

A Passion for Antiquities: Ancient Art from the Collection of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman (October 13, 1994 to April 23, 1995)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), October 13, 1994 to January 15, 1995
  • The Cleveland Museum of Art (Cleveland), February 14 to April 23, 1995

True, Marion, and Kenneth Hamma, eds. A Passion For Antiquities. Ancient Art from the Collection of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman, exh. cat. (Malibu: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 1994), pp. 182-87, cat. no. 86.

Andreae, Bernard, and Claudio Parisi Presicce, eds. Ulisse. Il mito e la memorie. Exh. cat., Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome, February 22-September 2, 1996. Rome: 1996, p. 46 (color, photo reversed); p. 174, no. 3.1.

Touchefeu-Meynier, Odette. "Polyphemos I." In Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae VIII (1997), pp. 1011-1019, p. 1014, no. 27 bis.

Snodgrass, Anthony. Homer and the Artists. Text and Picture in Early Greek Art. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998, p. 96; fig. 38.

"Museum Acquisitions Between July 1, 1996, and June 30, 1998." The Report of the J. Paul Getty Trust (1997-98), p. 67.

Andreae, Bernard. Odysseus: Mythos und Erinnerung. Mainz: 1999, pp. 113-15; pl. 385, no. 34 (photos reversed).

De Puma, Richard. Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum. The J. Paul Getty Museum 9 (USA 34). Malibu: 2000, pp. 5-8, no. 7; pls. 468-470, and 471, 3.

Geppert, Karin. "Vrais vases, faux decor: Nouvelles considerations sur le decor de deux vases etrusques du Louvre," La revue du Louvre et des musees de France 50, 1 (2000), pp. 33-38, p. 38, n. 40.

Burgess, Jonathan S. The Tradition of the Trojan War in Homer and the Epic Cycle. Baltimore and London: 2001, p. 103,105. fig. W.

Petacco, L. “Anfore fenicie, anfore pithecusane, anfore etrusche: considerazioni sul modello 'tirrenico'.” Miscellanea Etrusco-Italica 3 (2003), pp. 37-69, esp. 54-57, fig. 18b.

Giuliani, Luca. Bild und Mythos: Geschichte der Bilderzahlung in der Griechischen Kunst ( Munchen: Verlag C. H. Beck, 2003), pp. 96-105, abb.15.

Spivey, Nigel and Squire, Michael. Panorama of the Classical World (Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2004), p. 126, fig. 209.

Brijder, Herman. "Twee Panters: Met Één Kop." Mededelingenblad 87 (May 2004), pp. 4-7, p. 6, fig. 4.

Micozzi, Marina. "'White-on-red'. Miti greci nell'Orientalizzante etrusco." In Aeimnestos: Miscellanea di studi per Mauro Cristofani. B. Adembri, ed. (Florence: Centro di, 2005), p. 256, 259, figs. 4-7.

Napolitano, F. “'...e li educò alla greca e all’etrusca...' Un aspetto della paideia di un giovane principe etrusco tra VII e VI secolo a.C." In Lingue e culture fra identità e potere. Massimo Arcangeli and Carla Marcato, (Rome: Bonacci, 2008), pp. 403-417.

Lowenstam, Steven. The Trojan War Tradition in Greek and Etruscan Art (Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 2008), p. 16, fig. 4.

Bellelli, V. “L’impatto del mito greco nell’Etruria orientalizzante: la documentazione ceramica.” Bollettino di Archeologia on line 1, C/C4/4 (2010), p. 34, fig. 10 and p. 37, no. 12.

Bonaudo, Raffaella. "Eroi in viaggio: Odisseo dalla Grecia in Etruria." Bollettino di Archeologia online I Volume speciale D/D2/3 (2010), p. 20, fig 7.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection. Rev. ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2010), p. 134.

Maggiani, A. "Aristocrazia di città, aristocrazia di campagna di fronte al mito greco." In Artisti, committenti e fruitori in Etruria tra VIII e V a.C., Annali della Fondazione per il Museo 'Claudio Faina' XXI. G. M. Della Fina, ed. (Orvieto: Fondazione per il Museo Claudio Faina; Roma: Quasar, 2014), pp.392-97, fig. 6.

Grethlein, J., Aesthetic Experiences and Classical Antiquity. The Significance of Form in Narratives and Pictures (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017), , 213.

Guggisberg, M. “Polyphem und di Käse: Anmerkunge zam Krater des Aristonothos von Cerveteri.” In Fragmenta Mediterranea - Contatti, tradizioni e innovazioni in Grecia, Magna Grecia, Etruria e Roma. L. Cappuccini, C. Leypold, and M. Mohr eds. (Florence: All'insegna del giglio, 2017), p. 95, n. 18.

Education Resources
Education Resources

Education Resource




The Odyssey: Spoken, Written, Illustrated, and Performed

Students will read a story from The Odyssey by the Greek poet Homer and write, illustrate and perform in response to elements of the story.

Visual Arts; English–Language Arts; History–Social Science; Theater

3-5; 6-8

Three/Five-Part Lesson