The scene depicted here portrays the mythological contest between Hercules and the Lernaean Hydra; the hero’s second labour. The account is detailed in Hesiod’s ‘theogany’ and describes the Hydra as a many-headed serpent, with poisonous breath and blood. Hercules, as part of his Twelve Labours, is tasked by King Eurystheus to kill the serpentine monster. According to legend, Heracles kills the creature with the aid of his nephew, Iolaus, burning the severed stumps so that a new head did not grow from the wounds. Eventually the monster is killed and Hercules completes his second labour.
The maker’s mark to the reverse is from a well-known lamp workshop, with subsidiaries in Italy, Egypt, Petra, and in Cyprus. The lamp can be classified as Loeschcke type IA, with a broad channel, and were exceedingly popular during the Augustan-Tiberian period.