Jason, the Thessalian hero, son of Aeson, king of Iolcus, arrives in Colchis (the region of Asia Minor between Caucasus and Armenia) at the head of an expedition of noble companions to bring home the Golden Fleece from the divine ram and thus reclaim the throne usurped by Pelias. However the Golden Fleece had been consecrated to Ares by the king Aeëtes, who placed an enormous serpent to guard it. Jason, disgorged by the monster, is saved by Athena: the goddess turns her gaze toward the head of the large serpent which still holds the hero between its fangs, while the Fleece may be seen in the background, hanging from the branch of an oak.
The kylix is attributed to Douris, one of the Attic ceramic painters of the severe style that dominated during the first three decades of the fifth century B.C. In this case, the great master’s creative ability and imagination in rendering the features of the monster are remarkable.