In the pottery of ancient Greece, a kylix (/ˈkaɪlɪks/ KY-liks, /ˈkɪlɪks/ KIL-iks; Ancient Greek: κύλιξ, pl. κύλικες; also spelled cylix; pl.: kylikes /ˈkaɪlɪˌkiːz/ KY-li-keez, /ˈkɪlɪˌkiːz/ KIL-i-keez) is the most common type of wine-drinking cup. It has a broad, relatively shallow, body raised on a stem from a foot and usually two horizontal handles disposed symmetrically. The main alternative wine-cup shape was the kantharos, with a narrower and deeper cup and high vertical handles.

The almost flat interior circle of the base of the cup, called the tondo, was generally the primary surface for painted decoration in the black-figure or red-figure pottery styles of the 6th and 5th century BC, and the outside was also often painted. As the representations would be covered with wine, the scenes would only be revealed in stages as the wine was drained. They were often designed with this in mind, with scenes created so that they would surprise or titillate the drinker as they were revealed.

The word comes from the Greek kylix "cup," which is cognate with Latin calix, the source of the English word "chalice" but not related to the similar Greek word calyx which means "husk" or "pod". The term seems to have been rather more generally used in ancient Greece. Individual examples and the many named sub-varieties of kylix are often called names just using "cup". Like all other types of Greek pottery vessels, they are also covered by the general term of "vase".

Kylix 61.7 with Helen and Hermes, ca. 420 BC, part of the Vassil Bojkov collection, Sofia, Bulgaria
Silver kylix with Helen and Hermes, ca. 420 BC, part of the Vassil Bojkov collection, Sofia, Bulgaria
Dancing woman krotala BM 1920,0613.1
Kylix by Euergides (circa 500 BC) in the British Museum
2014-01-26 Symposium Tableware with erotic motif Inv. 1964.4 Altes Museum anagoria
Kylix from below


The primary use for the kylix was drinking wine (usually mixed with water, and sometimes other flavourings) at a symposium or male "drinking party" in the ancient Greek world, so they are often decorated with scenes of a humorous, light-hearted, or sexual nature that would only become visible when the cup was drained. Dionysos, the god of wine, and his satyrs or related komastic scenes, are common subjects. On the external surface sometimes, large eyes were depicted, probably also with humorous purposes (Eye-cup). Other humorous purposes would include designs on the base of the cup, such as the male genitals on the Bomford Cup, a late 6th century kylix.[1] The shape of the kylix enabled the drinker to drink whilst recumbent, as was the case in the symposia.[2] It also enabled them to play kottabos, a game played by flinging wine lees at targets.

A typical bowl held roughly 8 oz/250ml of fluid, though this varied greatly with size and shape.[3]


There are many sub-types of kylix, variously defined by their basic shape, the location or subject of their painting, or their main place of production, or often a combination of these. Several of these are grouped under the term of Little-Master cup. The sub-types include:

Black-figure terracotta kylix (wine cup), Greece. late 6th century BCE, Honolulu Academy of Arts
Double view of a late 6th-century cup
Type A kylix MOS 1983 1157

Kylix type A, no turned or "offset" lip; a "fillet" at the top of the short stem.

Triptolemos Painter MOS 1887 213

Kylix type B, no turned or "offset" lip, nor a "fillet", so the profile runs smoothly from lip to foot

Band cup Louvre F75

Band cup, with the main painting in a band low on the body.

Eye-cup kantharos Louvre F144

Eye-cup, painted with eyes

Komast cup Louvre E742

Komast cup, Athenian black-figure, with short stem, angled "offset" lip.[4]

Lakonian cup BM GR 1968.2-13.1

Lakonian cup

Lip-Cup sexual intercourse Ialysos black background

Lip cup, with the main painting just below the lip; the stem and footr are lost in this example

Siana cup Louvre F67

Siana cup, Similar to Komast, with slightly longer stem, and painted on the inside.[4]

Merrythought Cup Antikensammlung Berlin

Merrythought cup, with distinctive "wishbone" handles

Boeotian kantharos Louvre MNC670

For comparison, a black-glaze kantharos with Boeotian inscription (Thespiae, 450–425 BC)


Colmar Painter - Running Warrior - Walters 481920 - Detail(1)
Detail of a Kylix depicting a young warrior running,[5] The Walters Art Museum

After the kylikes were formed, an artisan drew a depiction of an event from Greek mythology or everyday life with a diluted glaze[6] on the outer surface of the formation.

Inside the drinking bowl was often a portrait of dancing and/or festive drinking.[2] Unique compositional skills were necessary for the artisans to attain due to the lack of verticals and horizontals on the surface. Onesimos, Makron, and Douris were famous painters in this field, renowned for their works.[7]

Famous pieces

Individual kylixes with articles include:

See also


  1. ^ Osborn, Robin (1998). Archaic and classical Greek art. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 133–134. ISBN 9780192842022. OCLC 40162410.
  2. ^ a b Allen, Douglas. Attic Red-Figure Kylix, Utah Museum of Fine Arts, 2008-02-19.
  3. ^ "Cleopatra".
  4. ^ a b "Cups - The Classical Art Research Centre".
  5. ^ "Running Warrior". The Walters Art Museum.
  6. ^ Timeline of Art History Archived 2008-03-02 at the Wayback Machine, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Retrieved on 2008-03-18.
  7. ^ Ancient Greek Pottery, Young Aggressive Sincere Organized and United, 2005-01-10.
  8. ^ Inventory number 8729 (formerly 2044); evaluation of worth by John Boardman, Schwarzfigurige Vasen aus Athen. Mainz 1977, p. 64 and Thomas Mannack: Griechische Vasenmalerei. Stuttgart 2002, p. 121

External links

Media related to Kylixes at Wikimedia Commons

Aison (vase painter)

Aison was an ancient Greek vase painter of the red-figure style. About 60 of his vases survive, which are dated between 435 and 415 BCE. Aison spent his career in several workshops, where he came into contact with several other well-known painters. His first works were created in the same workshop as the Kodros Painter. A kylix with motifs from the Theseus legend, that is today in the National Archaeological Museum of Spain, was created in the same workshop that Penthesilea Painter was active in and

Aristophanes was later to join. In his third workshop he worked together with the Schuvalow painter and the Eretria painter. Here he painted mostly closed containers. All three artists stood in the tradition of Polygnotos. From this time his second showpiece originates, the lekythos in Naples National Archaeological Museum. Two further lekythos (from the Louvre and the National Archaeological Museum of Athens) clearly mark a turning point in the artist's life when he embraced the Adonis cult. The difference is seen in the quality of his work, which is probably due primarily to difficult life circumstances, as demonstrated by the frequent workshop changes.

Borland Kylix

Borland Kylix is a compiler and integrated development environment (IDE) formerly sold by Borland, but later discontinued. It is a Linux software development environment based on Borland Delphi and Borland C++ Builder, which runs under Microsoft Windows. Continuing Delphi's classical Greek theme, Kylix is the name for an ancient Greek drinking cup. The closest supported equivalent to Kylix is the free Lazarus IDE package, designed to be code-compatible with Delphi. As of 2010 the project has been resurrected in the form of Delphi cross compiler for Mac and Linux, as shown in the Embarcadero's Delphi and C++ Builder roadmap. As of September 2011 with Kylix discontinued the framework for cross-platform development by Embarcadero is FireMonkey.

Brygos Painter

The Brygos Painter was an ancient Greek Attic red-figure vase painter of the Late Archaic period. Together with Onesimos, Douris and Makron, he is among the most important cup painters of his time. He was active in the first third of the 5th century BCE, especially in the 480s and 470s BCE. He was a prolific artist to whom over two hundred vases have been attributed, but he is perhaps best known for the Brygos Cup, a red-figure kylix in the Louvre which depicts the "iliupersis" or sack of Troy.

Codrus Painter

The Codrus Painter was a Greek vase-painter of the Attic red-figure style who flourished between 440 and 420 BC. His actual name is unknown and his conventional name is derived from his name-vase, now in Bologna, which depicts the mythical Athenian king, Codrus. He is most famous for his red-figure kylix showing the deeds of Theseus, now in the British Museum. Stylistically the Codrus Painter is close to the Aison and the Eretria Painter, and his vases have been found in three tombs with these artists.

Component Library for Cross Platform

Component Library for Cross Platform (CLX) (pronounced clicks), is a cross-platform visual component-based framework for developing Microsoft Windows and Linux applications. It is developed by Borland for use in its Kylix, Delphi, and C++ Builder software development environment.

Its aim was to replace the popular Microsoft Foundation Classes with Visual Component Library. CLX was based on Qt by Nokia. The API of CLX almost completely followed VCL. It was envisioned that existing applications using VCL would be recompiled with CLX.

However, due to lacklustre performance on Windows, subtle differences from VCL, and bugs, it didn't become the expected successor to VCL. Commercial failure of Kylix stopped further development of CLX.

In terms of object-oriented approach, CLX forms an object hierarchy where the TObject class serves as the base class. All other classes inherit or indirectly inherit the TObject class.

Today, many concepts that were defined with CLX have been implemented with the Lazarus Component Library (LCL) for the Lazarus IDE. By docking to different widgetsets, the LCL is able to support an even larger spectrum of platforms including Mac OS X and Android.

Foundry Painter

The Foundry Painter (German: Erzgießerei-Maler) was an ancient Greek Attic red-figure vase painter of the Late Archaic period. His real name is unknown; the conventional name is derived from his most famous work, the Berlin Foundry Cup.

Together with a number of other notable vase painters, such as the Briseis Painter or the Dokimasia Painter, the Foundry Painter was active in the workshop of one of the most important Late Archaic red-figure vase painters, the Brygos Painter. He was less productive than his master, but artistically nearly as talented. His style and subject range are very similar to those of the Brygos Painter, who seems to have had a strong influence on all his collaborators in those regards. Nonetheless, the Foundry Painter's style differs in certain details; John Beazley judged his works as powerful, sometimes even crude.

In contrast to his contemporaries, his figures seem heavier, their faces more schematic. His figures are well-observed, and sometimes depicted not without humour. Such figures as foolish lovers, rotund hetairai and confounded revellers occur. He also attempted to depict body hair and to stress musculature. Additionally, he was one of the very few Late Archaic vase painters to experiment with shading.

Especially his symposium scenes are closely connected with those of the Brygos Painter, although he adds his own characteristic perspective especially in details. Many of his mythical scenes can be described as original. Nonetheless, he is especially important because of his depictions of everyday life and of craft activity. For example, there is a vase by him that depicts a sculptor at work, watched by the goddess Athena, shown at Olive and Oil Museum in Torgiano.His most famous work is his name vase, kylix in the Antikensammlung at Berlin, the so-called Berlin Foundry Cup. Its exterior depicts a bronze workshop; it is among the very few sources on ancient metal production. The Foundry Painter was active in the first third of the 5th century BC. He mainly painted drinking cups. Some of his works are in the white-ground technique.

Kellory the Warlock

Kellory the Warlock is a fix-up fantasy novel written by Lin Carter, the third book of the Chronicles of Kylix series. Its seven episodic chapters were originally written as short stories, but only one, "In the Valley of Silence," had been previously published (as "Vault of Silence," in the anthology Swords Against Tomorrow (1970)). The book was first published in hardcover by Doubleday in April 1984. It was reprinted in hardcover by Wildside Press in 2007.

Kylix (gastropod)

Kylix is a genus of sea snails, marine gastropod mollusks in the family Drilliidae.Species in this genus are characterized by an incised sculpture, a simple aperture and a more delicate shell. They have a dorsal varix, a protrusion on the back of the body whorl.

Kylix ianthe

Kylix ianthe is a species of sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Drilliidae.

Kylix zacae

Kylix zacae is a species of sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Drilliidae.

Naucratis Painter

The Naucratis Painter was a Laconian vase-painter of the mid-sixth century BCE. Naucratis was a Greek trading post (emporion) in Egypt. Two fragments of a kylix found in the Demeter Sanctuary, Cyrene, show that the Naucratis Painter was literate, and the form of a three-stroke iota suggests, moreover, that he was a foreigner in Laconia.


Oltos was a Late Archaic Greek vase painter, active in Athens. From the time between 525 BC and 500 BC, about 150 works by him are known. Two pieces, a cup in Berlin (Antikensammlung F 2264) and a cup in Tarquinia (Museo Nazionale Tarquiniese RC 6848), are signed by him as painter.

Oltos is thought to have begun his career in the workshop of the potter Nikosthenes. Initially, he mainly painted bilingual vases or bowls with interior black-figure and exterior red-figure decoration. His black-figure style was influenced by Psiax and the Antimenes Painter. No pure black-figure works by Oltos are yet known. His tondos usually depict a single figure. They are often full of tension, frequently with differential directions of gaze and movement. Later, he exclusively painted red-figure, influenced especially by the Andokides Painter as well as several members of the Pioneer Group, especially his former pupil Euphronios.

His drawing style was spacious and elegant, but never reached the depth of detail of his most important contemporary masters. He had a distinctive tendency towards luxurious ornamentation and symmetric compositions. In the middle of his career he concentrated especially on the depiction of mythological scenes. Over time, he worked with several different potters. We know of at least six: Hischylos, most importantly Pamphaios, with whom he created the earliest known stamnos, Tleson, Chelis, and finally Kachrylion, for whom he worked together with Euphronios, as well as Euxitheos.

An innovation introduced by Oltos is found on an amphora at London (British Museum E 259). Here, he depicts a single figure, with no frame or floor line.


Pamphaios was an Attic potter active around the end of the 6th century BC.

Pamphaios was the successor of Nikosthenes in that artist's workshop, and thus took over from one of the most influential and creative potters of antiquity. He probably took over the workshop before 510 BC and continued the tradition of his predecessor by producing typical shapes the latter had developed, such as the Nikosthenic amphora, the Nikosthenic pyxis or the Chalkidian style cup. At times, he developed these shapes further. Unlike Nikostehenes, Pamphaios favoured painters of the red-figure style, which was at the time replacing the previously dominant technique of black-figure vase painting. He also continued to employ many of the painters that had worked for Nikosthenes, such as Oltos, Epiktetos and the Nikosthenes Painter.

Pamphaios signature survives on more than fifty vases – spelled different ways by various artists, it probably functioned as a trademark on his workshop's products.


In the material culture of classical antiquity, a phiale or patera (Latin pronunciation: [ˈpatera]) is a shallow ceramic or metal libation bowl. It often has a bulbous indentation (omphalos, "bellybutton") in the center underside to facilitate holding it, in which case it is sometimes called a mesomphalic phiale. It typically has no handles, and no feet. (A drinking cup with handles is a kylix. A circular platter with a pair of C-handles is not a patera, but a few paterae have single long straight handles.) Although the two terms may be used interchangeably, particularly in the context of Etruscan culture, phiale is more common in reference to Greek forms, and patera in Roman settings.

Penthesilea Painter

The Penthesilea Painter (active between 470 and 450 BC at Athens) was a Greek vase painter of the Attic red-figure style. His true name is unknown. His conventional name is derived from his name vase, "bowl 2688" in Munich, the inside of which depicts the slaying of Penthesilea by Achilles. On the basis of that work, John Beazley attributed 177 known vases to the painter, about 100 of which only survive fragmentarily. Bowls, 149 in number, represent the bulk of his work. The rest is distributed among small shapes like skyphoi, kantharoi and bobbins.

His work is characterised by large, space-filling figures whose posture is often bent so as to permit them to fit on a vessel. For the same reason, ornamental decoration around the edges is often very narrow. His works are also characterised by being very colourful, permitting several intermediate shades. Apart from dark coral red and the usual light red, he also used tones of brown, yellow, yellow-white and gold. His figures are painted remarkably meticulously in every detail. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he appears to have painted the subsidiary or exterior images on his vases himself. An exception is his very early "bowl T 212" at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Ferrara, with exterior images by the Splanchnoptes Painter. The Penthesilea Painter's works are dominated by depictions of boys and youths engaged in athletic activity, teaching scenes, weaponry and armour, as well as scenes of people talking to horses. While he painted the occasional mythological motif, they are so rare that they should be considered an exception among his work. Throughout his career, scenes from everyday life gain an increasingly dominant share of his paintings.

In his later works, his love of detail is lost and replaced with stencil-like motifs, their basic compositions indistinguishable from typical mass-produced wares. His lines become more casual, but don't lose their certainty, so that even these works preserve a distinctive charm, marking him as one of the great masters of Greek vase painting. His true mastery is increasingly found in the subsidiary images of boys, on which he appears to have concentrated more and more.

His major importance for Classical vase painting lies in the fact that he moved away from the usual motifs and replaced them with typical motifs from everyday life. His emphasis on human aspects represented a new departure and was to be an important influence on the further development of vase painting.

Apart from the Penthesilea bowl, "bowl 2689", also in Munich, is considered his other masterpiece. Its interior shows the slaying of Tityos by Apollo.

Tarquinia Painter

The Tarquinia Painter (fl. c. 470–460 BCE) was an ancient Attic vase painter working in red-figure technique during the early mid-5th century BCE. His artistic personality (for he never signed his work) has been extrapolated by John Beazley from his type-piece, Tarquinia RC 1121, Museo Nazionale Tarquiniese, illustrated in Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum II, plate 22.1.

The Quest of Kadji

The Quest of Kadji is a fantasy novel by American writer Lin Carter, the first book of the Chronicles of Kylix series. It was first published in paperback by Belmont Books in July 1971, and was reprinted in December 1972. The first edition in the United Kingdom was published by Five Star Books in 1973. Wildside Press issued a trade paperback edition in December 1999 and an ebook edition in August 2014. The novel has been translated into Dutch, Portuguese and French.

The Wizard of Zao

The Wizard of Zao is a fantasy novel written by Lin Carter, the second book of the Chronicles of Kylix series. It was first published in paperback by DAW Books in June 1978.

Typology of Greek vase shapes

The pottery of ancient Greece has a long history and the form of Greek vase shapes has had a continuous evolution from Minoan pottery down to the Hellenistic era. As Gisela Richter puts it, the forms of these vases find their "happiest expression" in the 5th and 6th centuries BC, yet it has been possible to date vases thanks to the variation in a form’s shape over time, a fact particularly useful when dating unpainted or plain black-gloss ware.

The task of naming Greek vase shapes is by no means a straightforward one (by convention the term "vase" has a very broad meaning in the field, covering anything that is a vessel of some sort). The endeavour by archaeologists to match vase forms with those names that have come down to us from Greek literature began with Panofka’s 1829 book Recherches sur les veritables noms des vases grecs, whose confident assertion that he had rediscovered the ancient nomenclature was quickly disputed by Gerhard and Letronne.

A few surviving vases were labelled with their names in antiquity; these included a hydria depicted on the François Vase and a kylix that declares, “I am the decorated kylix of lovely Phito” (BM, B450). Vases in use are sometimes depicted in paintings on vases, which can help scholars interpret written descriptions. Much of our written information about Greek pots comes from such late writers as Athenaios and Pollux and other lexicographers who described vases unknown to them, and their accounts are often contradictory or confused. With those caveats, the names of Greek vases are fairly well settled, even if such names are a matter of convention rather than historical fact.

The following vases are mostly Attic, from the 5th and 6th centuries, and follow the Beazley naming convention. Many shapes derive from metal vessels, especially in silver, which survive in far smaller numbers. Some pottery vases were probably intended as cheaper substitutes for these, either for use or to be placed as grave goods. Some terms, especially among the types of kylix or drinking cup, combine a shape and a type or location of decoration, as in the band cup, eye cup and others. Some terms are defined by function as much as shape, such as the aryballos, which later potters turned into all sorts of fancy novelty shapes.

Little Master cups
Wine vessels
Water vessels
Mixing vessels
Perfume, oil, and wedding
Funerary and religious


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