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by Sarah Brannum

Kylix, 500-475 BCE, ceramics
Kylix, 500-475 BCE, ceramics. Ackland Art Museum, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The Kylix was used in ancient Greece as an avenue for drinking wine. The Greeks engaged in many drinking parties, otherwise known as Symposia, where the Kylix specifically was used. The Symposia are considered feasts due to their inclusivity, enjoyable nature, and the facilitation friendships.

The Greeks in general were very gracious people when it came to feasts by, “offering welcome to visiting friends who come” (Odyssey Book 3, Line 355). The Symposium is an example of the hospitality of the Greeks as these events were large and inclusive. The outer markings of the Kylix depict many different people, demonstrating how social these symposia were.

The Symposia in ancient Greece were joyful events, with conversation and drinking. In Plato’s Symposium, Eryximachus says sarcastically, “Are we to have neither conversation nor singing over our cups; but simply to drink as it we were thirsty?” (MIT). Symposia were not events of sustenance, but instead enjoyment and indulgence. Throughout the Kylix, the images display different scenes from a Symposium. The top of the Kylix depicts a man lounging in a chair and flicking wine dregs at a target. This game was often played at Symposia and represent the carefree environment of these social gatherings. This image is on the bottom of the bowl in the Kylix so as the drinker was finishing, they could participate in the game.

Although wine was an integral piece of Symposia, the Greeks enjoyed wine outside of these settings as well. Wine is described as a “drink for a deity” (Odyssey, Book 9, Line 205). The gift of wine also symbolized a meaningful relationship with an individual. This relationship with wine is described in the Odyssey, where, “Athena [rejoices] in the man so thoughtful and civil, seeing that she was the first to whom he would present the gold goblet” (Book 3, Line 52-53). Wine was used to grow both friendships and romantic relationships and to demonstrate one’s care for another.

The Kylix, being the vessel from which wine is consumed, is a physical relic of the importance that wine had in facilitating social relationships in ancient Greece. The Symposium was the event where the Kylix was used, and is depicted on the exterior of the Kylix as a carefree event. The Symposia is considered a feast due to the inclusivity, the celebratory nature, and the ability to facilitate social relationships.


Works Cited:

Homer, et al. The Odyssey. Seven Treasures Publications. 2010.

“The Internet Classics Archive: Symposium by Plato.” The Internet Classics Archive |

Symposium by Plato, MIT,


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