On this black-figure hydria, the Greek hero Herakles battles the Lernean Hydra while a large crab nips at his foot. His companion Iolaos attacks from the other side, cutting off one of the monster's heads with a harpe or short curved sword. Two sphinxes flank the handle on the back of the vessel, and floral decoration covers the rest of the vase: an ivy tendril on the shoulder and a palmette and lotus frieze on the lower body.
This hydria is one of a small group of painted vases produced at Caere in Etruria. All these vases appear to come from one workshop, which may have had two artists. Caeretan hydriai display many of the basic elements of Greek vase-painting reinterpreted for an Etruscan market, using a more vivid range of colors and emphasizing the importance of floral ornament in the decoration. They are unusual in that the artist used a template for the floral decoration, a technique not otherwise known in Greek vase-painting.