S. Muth, Gewalt im Bild, Das Phänomen der medialen Gewalt im Athen des 6. und 5. Jahrunderts v.Chr., Berlin, 2008, p. 52, fig. 24.
Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae, Supplementum vol. 1, Düsseldorf, 2009, 'Kyknos I, Add. 2', pl. 157.
Kyknos, the son of Ares and Pelopeia, was a cruel brigand who attacked, killed and extorted ransom from travellers. In particular, he set upon those on their way to Delphi. This incited the wrath of Apollo and the god thus urged Herakles to put an end to the bandit’s antics once and for all. The scene on this vase depicts the moment Herakles, spurred on by his patron Athena, kills Kyknos while Ares tries to aid his wounded son. Soon after, Ares attacked Herakles in vengeance for Kyknos's death. According to Hesiod, Athena deflected Ares’ spear, allowing Herakles to wound Ares in the thigh.
Though not one of Herakles's Labours, the duel between the hero and Kyknos was a popular subject among Attic vase painters. This may have been due to the perceived dangers in travelling, a very real concern in the ancient world. The Swing Painter is noted for his broad repertoire of mythological subjects, as well as for his striking use of added colours to paint patterned clothing.