Decorated with the tenth labour of Herakles, the theft of the cattle of Geryon. Unusually, there is no subsidiary decoration at the sides of the vase, so that the story can be viewed as a continuous frieze. The hero is shown seated on a rocky outcrop, wearing his lion-skin and carrying a club and bow. Flanking him are five cattle with white-painted horns, behind which the three- bodied Geryon advances, his fatally wounded herdsman Eurytion and twin-headed dog Orthus (Cerberus's brother) prostrate at his feet. A woman faces the monster, her arms upraised to halt his advance. The neck is decorated with linked palmettes. Chip on the lip but otherwise intact.
Although represented on some seventy vases, examples with this subject come on the market very rarely. Geryon was the son of Chrysaor and Callirrhoe. Chrysaor had sprung from the body of the Gorgon Medusa after Perseus beheaded her, and Callirrhoe was the daughter of two Titans, Oceanus and Tethys. Such parentage explains his monstrous physiognomy. On the way to the lair of Geryon, the mythical island Erythia, Herakles formed the Gates which bear his name, now the Straits of Gibraltar. Having killed Orthus and Eurytion with his club, and Geryon with his bow and arrows, he found that getting the cattle back to Eurystheus was the most difficult part of the task; at one point, one of the bulls escaped in Sicily and swam to the mainland. The native word for bull was 'italus', and so the country to which it swam came to be named after the bull, and was called Italy.
Holger Termer, Hamburg, Germany; acquired in 1978 Dr P. Conradty, Nuremberg, Germany
Isolde Conradty, Nuremberg, Germany; by descent from the above