The episode of Achilles’ ambush of Troilus, set in the Temple to Apollo Thymbraeus, is narrated in two metopes. In the first, A, Achilles in armour lurks behind the fountain, which however assumes the form of a sacrificial altar. On the fountain there stands a monstrous figure with a wolf’s head and a bird’s beak, wielding a long knife. In B, Troilus is on horseback, preceded by a young man on foot with a laurel branch. On his neck, on both sides, there is a female demon with wings on her head.
In this amphora we observe a version of a mythical episode which enjoyed widespread success in Archaic Etruria, as in the well-known case of the Tomb of the Bulls. The setting alludes ambiguously to the bloody sacrifice, with Troilus as its designated victim: holy water is gathered from the fountain-altar, while the statue that emerges from it appears to brandish a sacrificial tool rather than a weapon. This “demon of death” constitutes the most enigmatic element of the illustration, which goes beyond a simple evocation of the tragic ending.
This vessel, among the few in the La Tolfa Group with a mythological theme, is the work of a Greek-Oriental painter who may also have participated in the decoration of the Tomb of the Bulls n Tarquinia; such a possibility has cast doubt on the traditional location in Vulci of the production of this form of vessel.