Storage Jar with Diomedes and Odysseus
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Attributed to the Inscription Painter
Greek, Rhegion, South Italy, about 540 B.C.
15 9/16 in.

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The Greek hero Odysseus slits the throat of a Thracian warrior. On the back of the vase, Diomedes grabs the sleeping Rhesos, king of the Thracians, just before plunging his sword into the chest of this Trojan ally. The corpses of Rhesos's men, presumably killed in their sleep, litter the ground. As the story was recounted in Homer's Iliad , Odysseus and Diomedes infiltrated the Thracian camp outside the walls of Troy, hoping to steal their fine horses. This vase is the only depiction of the murder of Rhesos in the Archaic period; it is remarkably close to Homer's account, down to the display of armor and the Thracian horses who panic on their tethers under the handles of the vase.

When the Greeks began founding colonies in Italy and Sicily in the 600s B.C., they initially imported fine decorated pottery. Soon, however, local pottery workshops arose. Chalkidian pottery, one of these local productions in the black-figure technique, was probably made in the city of Rhegion, a colony of the Greek city of Chalkis.