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The phiale is a wide shallow cup, with or without a foot, and generally has a boss rising from the center.

History: This shape appears in the pottery of Corinth at the beginning of the sixth century, and afterwards in Attic wares. It is not common in terra cotta, and the shape may be taken from metal prototypes. Perhaps the many examples represented in vase-painting were of metal, as suggested by the deep lobes.

Frequently appearing in illustration on Athenian vases, the phiale was a vessel used for pouring libations to the gods, and also for drinking from on more ordinary occasions.

  • Literary evidence attests the name of this vessel:
  • Athenaios, XI. 501 f-502 a: "with a central boss."
  • Aristot. Rh. 3.4.4: comparing it to a shield.
    Pind. N. 9.51 f : "Let him distribute in the silver phialai the strong child of the vine."
  • Pollux, 6. 95: "Let them carry the phialai on the tips of their fingers, bringing them carefully to the banquet guests."

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