Set in a forest, a funeral mourning scene focuses on a female figure (whose complexion is conventionally rendered in white), possibly identifiable as Eos, or Aurora, who weeps over the body of her son Memnon, laid naked on a bed of branches after being brought back to Ethiopia. Memnon’s weapons and chiton hang from the trees behind. The king of Ethiopia had come to the aid of the Trojans at the head of his army and, after killing Antilochus, son of Nestor, he in turn was felled by Achilles’ hand.
The opposite side illustrates the episode of Menelaus bringing Helen back after the Sack of Troy. The king of Sparta, dressed as a Hoplite, threatens his unfaithful wife with a sword, grasping her cloak.
The Painter of the Vatican Mourner (the Vatican Painter 350), as named by this vase, was an Attic ceramic painter very close to Exekias and the Group E; it is believed that for the episode of Eos and Memnon, he could have been inspired by one of this master’s works.