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Mixing Vessel Fragment with Scylla
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Attributed to the Black Fury Group
Greek, Apulia, South Italy, 375 - 350 B.C.
Terracotta
7 1/2 x 7 5/16 in.
86.AE.417

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Greek vases created in the colonies often illustrated themes of local interest. This fragment of a bell-krater made in Apulia in South Italy depicts Scylla, a monster who personified the terrors of the sea and was believed to live in the straits between Sicily and the toe of Italy. Scylla, who grabbed sailors off their ships and devoured them, was a hybrid creature, having a woman's upper body, a fishy lower body, and a ring of dogs' heads around her waist. The survival of only a small fragment makes it difficult to determine what is happening on this vase. The dolphins at the lower edge suggest that Scylla is swimming in the sea. Above her head, a section of a wing and a garment decorated with stars, which are part of another mythological figure, are visible. Just in front of Scylla, the chest and hooves of a bull are preserved. The vase may have depicted the myth of the rape of Europa, in which Zeus turns himself into a white bull and carries the princess off across the sea. This tale was very popular in the Greek colonies in Italy. Scylla may here have been just another creature populating the sea in such a scene.