The kylix of Apollo

Golden-haired Apollo with his Lyre, 
© Ephorate of Antiquities of Phocis, Ministry of Culture and Sports

This Attic white ground kylix (cup) bears one of the most typical depictions of Apollo. The god wears a white sleeveless chiton, which is fastened with buckles at shoulder level, and a red himation wrapped around the lower part of his body. He sits on a cross-legged stool. His long hair is tied at the back and he wears a wreath made of myrtle leaves. With his right hand he pours a libation out of a phiale (shallow bowl). In his left hand, he holds a lyre with seven strings and a sound-box made out of a turtle shell. A blackbird looks on, related possibly to the myth of Koronis, daughter of king Phlegyas, with whom Apollo was in love. According to this myth, the bird brought to Apollo the news of the wedding of his beloved one; Apollo, in deep grief, cursed the bird to be always black like his heart. According to another explanation, however, it is simply an oracular bird.


This kylix is typical of the Attic vase-painting of the early 5th century B.C., in which white is often used as a background for colourful scenes. It dates to ca. 480 B.C. and was made by an unknown vase painter, although some scholars attribute it to the Berlin painter. 

Translation: Dr. Aphrodite Kamara, Historian