Heracles (Ἡρακλῆς) was the greatest divine hero in Ancient Greek mythology, born from the union between Zeus and the mortal Alcmene. He was later assimilated in the Ancient Roman pantheon as Hercules, with whom Roman emperors, in particular Commodus and Maximian, often identified themselves. He features in several mythological episodes, the most famous being the Twelve Labours of Herakles. According to the myth, the hero married Megara, daughter of the king of Thebes Creon, after emerging victorious in the war against the Boeotian kingdom of Orchomenus. However, in a fit of madness sent by Hera, he killed his wife and children and, consequently, was obliged to become the servant of Eurystheus. The king of Tiryns imposed a cycle of twelve labours upon Herakles, which included the slaying of the Namean lion, the slaying of the nine-headed Hydra of Lerna, and the fetching up of three-headed dog Cerberus from the underworld.
‘Black figure pottery’ is a type of ancient Greek ceramic art which originated in Corinth around c.700 BC and became a very popular art-style in Attic pottery. It is called ‘black figure’ because artists used black pigment to portray the designs, with male figures being typically shown with black skin and female figures with white. Lekythoi vessels traditionally contained oil which was used within religious, typically funerary, rituals.
For more information on Greek pottery art, please see our blog post: Black and Red Figure Attic Pottery