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Of Libations & Drinks in Ancient Delphi: THE KYLIX OF APOLLO

Among relics unearthed during the Great Excavation of the late 19th century, the Kylix of Apollo is one of the most astonishing finds residing at the Archaeological Museum of Delphi.

“It’s the original...isn’t it amazing?” a museum curator asks as visitors gaze at the artifact’s seemingly perfect condition. Pieced back together with utmost attention to detail, the Kylix of Apollo is impressive up close. It is this very design that today adorns some of the most charming collectible ceramic replicas made in Greece.

This 5th century (480 BC) masterpiece of a cup bears an ancient drawing of Apollo performing a libation. The sacred god of Delphi, Apollo dons a sleeveless white chiton fastened with buckles at the top, and augmented with a red himation. His characteristic wavy hair is tied in a bun and adorned with a myrtle leaf wreath, while down below, his feet are bound in laced sandals.

In this simple, yet beautifully executed piece, we see Apollo seated on a cross-legged stool depicting lion’s feet. In his left hand he holds his treasured, seven string turtle shell lyre. Stretching out his right arm, he gently tips a phiale of red wine while a black bird, possibly a raven, looks on, perched on one of two evident lines.

The image is drawn within a circular outline in its entirety, except for the black bird’s tail and Apollo’s right foot, both of which playfully peak over the structured border. And while the artist did not sign this wine cup, one could say he or she took the liberty of “drawing outside the lines.”


WORDS + PHOTOS : Portes Magazine


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