Attica Kylix


This drinking vessel, with its broad shallow bowl, pedestal base, and oblique upward handles, was used to drink wine during a symposium (from the Greek, sympínein: to drink together). This convivial practice, which followed a banquet and was reserved for adult male citizens, was a sort of political, religious, and social institution in Greek culture, through which aristocratic groups, in a protected environment, practice norms and behaviors that were to be followed in the broader context of the city (polis).
Wine was diluted with water, according to precise rules, which included specific rituals and crockery, specially prepared for each occasion. Along with kraters, pitchers, and plates, the kylix was part of the pottery set required in every symposium.
On these vessels, Greek potters represented scenes of everyday life through the allusive language of mythology.
On the Asola kylix, side A depicts a central male figure with a beard: Dionysus, sitting on a foldable stool (diphros), holding a cornucopia in his hands, with a decorative plant motif in the background consisting of a rinceau. Instead, side B, which is almost entirely devoid of an image, still retains traces of a similar decoration.
Two large eyes are painted on both sides of the deity, consisting of three large concentric circles with reddish overpainting on the cornea and in the center of the pupil. The use of eyes as iconographic symbols was very widespread in this type of pottery, implemented to ward off the risk of betrayal by the other guests, creating a sort of apotropaic mask for the symposiast. A Gorgoneion – the representation of a gorgon, such as Medusa (a monster with the ability to turn anyone to stone with her gaze) – was painted inside the vessel and chosen as an emblem by the pottery decorator as a warning that discourages overstepping boundaries and letting oneself go to unbridled drinking.