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Wine Cup with Bellerophon Fighting the Chimaera
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Attributed to the Boreads Painter
Greek, Lakonia, about 565 B.C.
Terracotta
4 15/16 x 7 1/4 to 7 5/16 in.
85.AE.121

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On the interior of this Lakonian or Spartan black-figure kylix or cup, the Greek hero Bellerophon battles the monstrous Chimaera, a fire-breathing creature that combines elements of a lion, a snake, and a goat. In most depictions of this myth, a favorite among Greek artists in the 600s and early 500s B.C., Bellerophon rides Pegasos, his winged horse, but here he has dismounted, still holding the reins. While Pegasos strikes at the Chimaera with his hooves, Bellerophon spears the monster from underneath.

The unique, symmetrical arrangement of the rearing horse and monster framing the hero is the result of the artist's attempt to find creative ways to fill the circular area of the interior of a cup. Three ornamental bands and palmettes at the handles decorate the cup's exterior.

Lakonian vase-painters specialized in the decoration of cups; this example, with its high foot and slanting rim, fits the typical form. Both the interest in narrative and the use of the black-figure technique were new to Lakonian vase-painting when this vase was produced.


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