Representations of Helios in his chariot rising above the sea begin toward the end of the sixth century B.C., with a small series of black-figure vases, mostly lekythoi. Five of them have been interpreted as illustrations of the myth of Herakles and the Golden Bowl of the Sun. In Pherekydes' version of the story, Herakles, vexed by the burning rays, threatened Helios with his arrows, and obtained the god's golden vessel to sail the Ocean to the land of Geryon. Although the correspondence of the picture to the story is not literal, in fact largely limited to the cast of characters, such an interpretation is plausible for four vases.
On the lekythos in Athens by the Daybreak Painter, Herakles is crouching on a spur of ground which seems to emerge from the waves; he looks at the Sun in apparent awe. The scenes on the skyphos by the Theseus Painter in Taranto are akin to the Athenian piece: on one side Herakles rushes up the steep ground, on the other he sits on the rocky outline, his right hand gesturing toward the Sun. On a third vase, a lekythos in Cambridge, and on a fourth in Oxford, both Herakles and Athena are depicted on either side of Helios; on the Cambridge lekythos Herakles is actually striding toward the Sun, lifting the bow in his right hand. Only in this case can Herakles' attitude be taken as a threat; on all four vessels, however, the hero and the Sun look at each other, as if an exchange were to take place soon, and so are shown as the actors of the scene.