Zeus woos Alcmene, assisted by Hermes. According to myth, Zeus courted Alcmene assuming the appearance of her husband Amphitryon, slowing down the passage of time so that one night seemed to last for three. Heracles was born of her encounter with the divinity. The Italiot theatrical world strongly inspired the production by ceramographers from Campania. The grotesque hairstyles of comic actors depicted here, and the fake padding to their bellies and buttocks, are typical of the popular taste of Phylax comedy (from Phlyakes, a figure from the Dionysiac court, originally demons of vegetation), which flourished in Magna Græcia during the fourth and third centuries B.C. In this case the parody and caricature do not spare even the gods of Olympus. Hermes, with the caduceus, holds a torch to give light to Zeus, who at the same time is trying to put into position a ladder he carries clumsily, with his crowned head stuck between the rungs. Zeus heads for the window where Alcmene appears, gazing towards her lover and grasping the windowsill with her hands.
The krater is attributed to Asteas, a painter active in Paestum around 360 to 330 B.C., and is considered to be one of the most refined of his unsigned vases.