The figure of the King of Athens is derived from the engraving of a nude man pursuing a Naiad by Marco Dente da Ravenna after antique Bas-reliefs. The same source is transposed more literally on two dishes (Astolfo fighting the Furies and the sinking of the fleet of Seleucus) from the Pucci Service (painted in the workshop of Xanto Avelli da Rovigo). The sinking of the fleet of Seleucus is illustrated along with the print source by Wendy M. Watson, Italian Renaissance Maiolica from the William A. Clark Collection (London 1986), pp. 133-135, and both dishes are illustrated by Jörg Rasmussen, Italian Majolica in the Robert Lehman Collection (New York 1989), pp. 254-255. The figure on the far left of the dish is derived from the first border panel on the right of the Quos Ego engraved by Marcantonio Raimondi after Raphael. The second figure from the right is derived from a seated figure in The Judgement of Paris engraved by Marcantonio Raimondi after Raphael.
The subject is Theseus's return from the slaying of the Minotaur. Theseus had agreed with his father, the King of Athens, to return with white sails hoisted if his venture had been successful. Forgetting this, he returned with black sails, and his father threw himself to his death in the sea.