Hydria with Scene of Eros



Hydria with Scene of Eros




Second quarter of the 4th Century BC




18 7/8 x 15 3/4 x 13 in. (47.9 x 40 x 33 cm)

Object Number



The hydria, as its name implies (compare our word "hydrate"), was used to fetch water from the well, a task entrusted to women. Two lateral handles enabled lifting; the vertical one, pouring. The austere appearance conceals the complexity of the vessel's manufacture: the body was hammered from sheet metal, the handles and foot cast from nine pieces, and the plaque below the vertical handle hammered from both sides (repousse) for sharp definition. Metallurgical analysis has revealed significantly higher lead content in the cast elements (in order to make the molten metal flow into the mold) than in the hammered (where crispness and strength rather than fluidity was important). The parts were assembled using lead solder.

The plaque below the pouring handle shows Aphrodite with her arm over the shoulder of her son, Eros. She adjusts her veil in a bridal gesture. Since her husband in mythology was Hephaistos, the god of smiths and metalworkers, this scene may be read as a symbolic celebration of love.

During recent conservation, crystallized scraps of a funeral shroud for the ashes of the deceased were identified inside the vessel perhaps indicating that the vessel was created as a bride's dowry, and later consigned to a grave.

Credit Line

Carlos Collection of Ancient Art


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 - Present
MCCM Newsletter, March - May 2002.|
MCCM Newsletter, September - November 2003.|
Jennifer Chi and Jasper Gaunt, Greek Bronze Vessels from the Collection of Shelby White & Leon Levy (Atlanta: Michael C. Carlos Museum, 2005), 22-23, catalogue 8.|
Jasper Gaunt, Renee Stein, Kate Duffy, and Lindsay Turk, "Stylistic and Technical Study of a Bronze Hydria in the Michael C. Carlos Museum," in Common Ground: Archaeology, Art, Science, and Humanities. Proceedings of the XVIth International Congress of Classical Archaeology, Boston, August 23-26, 2003, ed Carol C. Mattusch et al. (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2006), 363-67.|
Louise Pratt, Eros at the Banquet: Reviewing Greek with Plato's Symposium (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2011), 6-7.


© Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University. Photo by Bruce M. White, 2005.
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 mccm.collections.services@emory.edu. 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.

On View



“Hydria with Scene of Eros,” Michael C. Carlos Museum Collections Online, accessed February 19, 2019, http://carlos.digitalscholarship.emory.edu/items/show/7955.

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