Greek Mythology >> Galleries >> Greek Vase Paintings 1 >> K8.11


Birth of Athena | Attic black figure vase painting
Museum Collection Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond
Catalogue No. -
Beazley Archive No. -
Ware Attic Black Figure
Shape Amphora
Painter Attributed to a Painter of Group E
Date ca. 545 - 535 B.C.
Period Archaic


The goddess Athena is birthed from the head of Zeus. The king of the gods sits on a throne decorated with the sculptural foreparts of two horses. He holds a royal sceptre in one hand and a stylized lightning-bolt in the other. A miniature-sized Athena springs from his brow, ready equipped with a spear, shield, helm and serpent-trimmed aegis vest. Four gods witness the birth--Hermes, Eileithyia, Hera and Ares. Hermes wears a peaked traveller's cap, short cape (chlamys), and "winged" boots, and holds a herald's wand in his hand. Eileithyia, the goddess of childbirth, midwifes the child with two high raised arms (cf. image K8.14). Hera, standing opposite her, is crowned with a mitra and lifts a single hand. Her son Ares is depicted as a hoplite warrior with a peaked helm, greaves, spear, and shield decorated with the image of a tripod.


Athena, Zeus, Hermes, Eileithyia, Hera, Ares