Red-Figure Calyx-Krater of the Abduction of Europa



Red-Figure Calyx-Krater of the Abduction of Europa




ca. 380 BC


Greek, Paestan


22 7/8 x 18 1/2 in. (58.1 x 47 cm)

Object Number



Europa, daughter of Agenor, king of Tyre, was picking flowers in a meadow one spring morning when she was noticed by Zeus. He disguised himself in the form of a bull (or, as some versions relate, sent a bull), who attracted her attention and managed to carry her off across the sea to Crete. There she bore to Zeus a number of sons, most famously Minos, king of Crete. It is after her that Europe is named.

It is the sea voyage between Tyre and Crete that the artist illustrates. Europa, apparently unperturbed and finely dressed, adjusts her veil in a bridal gesture. Around the bull dance the denizens of the deep. They recall the marine escort accorded to Poseidon in the Iliad: "and about him the sea beasts came up from their deep places and played in his path, and acknowledged their master, and the sea stood apart before him, rejoicing."

The gods appear in the upper register. Pothos (longing) leads the procession. Then comes the messenger god, Hermes, with herald's staff (kerykeion). Eros and Aphrodite witness what they have set in motion. Below at left, is a local touch-Skylla, who lived in the Straits of Messina between Italy and Sicily. Canine protomes emerge from her waist. At right, Triton brandishes a helmsman's oar.
Exceptional on this vase are the shading on the sun (Helios) and bull. Wall painting, now lost, is likely to have been the inspiration. Asteas was, together with his colleague Python, the pre-eminent vase-painter in early fourth-century Paestum.

The reverse depicts three revelers: the users, as it were, of this krater. The elaborately profiled foot is intended to be understood as including a stand. For metal vessels, as in some ceramic, these were made separately.

Credit Line

Carlos Collection of Ancient Art


Travelled in conjunction with The Centaur's Smile: The Human Animal in Early Greek Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, August 1, 2003 - May 31, 2004|
MCCM Permanent Collection Reinstallation, September 2004 - January 2011|
Monsters, Demons & Winged Beasts: Composite Creatures in the Ancient World, Michael C. Carlos Museum, February 5 - June 19, 2011|
MCCM Permanent Collection Reinstallation, June 20, 2011 - August 26, 2013|
MCCM Permanent Collection Reinstallation, October 2, 2013 - Present
MCCM Newsletter, March - May 2003.|
MCCM Newsletter, September - October 2004.|
Jasper Gaunt, "New Galleries of Greek & Roman Art at Emory University: The Michael C. Carlos Museum," Minerva 16 (January/February 2005): 13-17.|
MCCM Newsletter, March - May 2006.|
MCCM Newsletter, Spring/Summer 2011.


© Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University. Photo by Bruce M. White, 2006.
This image is provided by the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University, who retains all rights in it. This image is made available for limited non-commercial, educational, and personal use only, or for fair use as defined by United States law. For all other uses, please contact the Michael C. Carlos Museum Office of Collections Services at +1(404) 727-4282 or Users must cite the author and source of the image as they would material from any printed work, but not in any way that implies endorsement of the user or the user's use of the image. Users may not remove any copyright, trademark, or other proprietary notices, including without limitation attribution information, credits, and copyright notices that have been placed on or near the image by the Museum. The Museum assumes no responsibility for royalties or fees claimed by the artist or third parties. The User agrees to indemnify and hold harmless Emory University, its Michael C. Carlos Museum, its agents, employees, faculty members, students and trustees from and against any and all claims, losses, actions, damages, expenses, and all other liabilities, including but not limited to attorney’s fees, directly or indirectly arising out of or resulting from its use of photographic images for which permission is granted hereunder.

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“Red-Figure Calyx-Krater of the Abduction of Europa,” Michael C. Carlos Museum Collections Online, accessed September 18, 2020,

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