This blackware guttos would have been used to refill an oil lamp, as well as providing decoration to a table. It was manufactured by a Greek community in Southern Italy – an area populated by a large number of Greek colonies from the 8th century BC onwards (so much so that the Romans referred to the area as Magna Graecia – ‘Great Greece’). These Greek colonies were instrumental in bringing Greek culture and thought to Italy, greatly influencing Roman literature, philosophy, and material culture in turn. The pottery from the area is easily recognisable by its lustrous black glaze.
Hercules, known to the Greeks as Herakles, was the son of Zeus and the mortal Alkmene. According to ancient mythology, Herakles was renowned for his superhuman strength, and for undertaking far-ranging adventures, most famously The Twelve Labours.
To find out more about different types of Greek vessel please see our relevant blog post: Collecting Greek Vases.