Finely Decorated Greek Attic Black-Figure Kylix

£ 1,800.00

A superb Attic black-figure terracotta kylix, featuring D-shaped applied loop handles and a low pedestal foot. The kylix was commonly used in Ancient Greece as a traditional wine-drinking cup. The central medallion of the vessel is unglazed and features a black silhouette of a young male. The rest of the interior is glazed in black.The silhouette is depicted holding a cape and what could be interpreted as a head. The external surface displays a Dionysian Thiasos or a procession in honour of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine. The scene depicted includes male and female figures elegantly draped in chitons and hymations, shown while proceeding with horses and satyrs. Leaves and vine trellises, rendered in a stylized way through a series of dots, enrich the background of the scene depicted. The scene echoes the Dionysian celebration of life through music, dance and wine.

Date: Circa 5th - 4th Century BC
Condition: Fine with signs of ageing visible on the surface. Minor chips to the foot. The black pigmentation partially erased. A few chips to bowl rim and to the underside of the foot.


The young male portrayed to the central medallion can be associated with the mythological figure of Perseus, shown while holding Medusa’s head. In Ancient Greek mythology and culture, Perseus was the hero who slayed the Gorgon Medusa. Alternatively, it is possible that the figure depicted is meant to be one of the Tyrannicides – most likely Aristogeiton, poised with a cloak to conceal his weapon in preparation to kill the tyrant Hipparchus. Since the kylix would most likely have been used in a sympiotic context, either option is feasible – as the guests would have discussed both mythology and politics, the kylix decoration would neatly reflect these themes. In Classical Athens there were also a number of cults devoted to the Tyrannicides, adding a potentially religious dimension to the political.

To discover more about the Symposium, please visit our relevant blog post: The Art of Drinking Together, or the Symposium.

Dimensions W 23.5 x H 7 cm

Southern Europe



Greek Mythology