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CALIX κύλιξ). Though not found in Homer or Hesiod, this was the most common kind of drinking cup among the Athenians (Ar. Lys. 841): cf. ἐπὶ τῇ κύλικι λέγειν (Plat. Symp. 214 B) and κυλικεῖα (Ath. 480b), sideboards for exhibiting cups (we should say, “plate” ). It was of earthenware and round, hence its name, according to Athenaeus (480b), ἀπὸ τοῦ κυλίεσθαι τῷ τροχῷ. It had a broad top (Pherecr. ap. Ath. 481b), as is evidenced from its comparison to a shield (Ath. 472c) and to a woman's breast (Plin. Nat. 33.81). It had feet (Soph. Frag. 541) and horizontal handles (Ath. 470e). It is mainly in having vertical handles

Early Calix. (Birch.)

and in its greater size that CANTHARUS differed from calix. The calices, however, varied to some extent in size, just as our tumblers, and there is some slight evidence (Plat. Lys. 219 E) [p. 1.347]that an average one held three cotylae (= 1<*>3 pints). The archaic form of the calix is depicted by Birch (Ancient Pottery, p. 180); but the ordinary forms are here given from Birch and Dennis. Those of the early period are distinguished by their deeper bowl and taller stem. Those of a later period are of a more elegant shape, have a shallow bowl, and a stem not so

Later Calix. (Birch and Dennis.)

high. Cups of this shape are generally painted inside as well as out. In banqueting scenes depicted upon vases, they are often represented as twirled round upon the finger. See the drawing given in SYMPOSIUM In the latest period the bowl of the calix is without a stem, and has only a moulded base.

Latest Calix. (Birch.)

Athenaeus tells us that these cups were made at various places: Argos (480 d), Attica (480 c), Chios (480 e), Lacedaemon (484 f), Naucratis (480 e), Rhodes (497 f), Teos (481 a). In Martial we hear of Surrentine (14.102) and Saguntine calices (14.108). These places gave their humes to different kinds of cups, all more or less agreeing with the general description above. The κύλιξ made at Naucratis, however, was very flat, like a phiala, as if made with the hand, with a broad bottom and four handles (ὦτα). (See Ath. 480e). Panofka (Plate iv., No. 34 a, b) professes to give a representation; but it agrees in nothing except in having four handles.

But cups were called after individuals as well as after places: e. g. the much-discussed Θηρίκλειοι, sc. κύλικες. The principal examination of these vessels is by Welcker in Rhein. Museum, 6.404-420. But we must not suppose with him that they were called from the figures of animals which were on them, but rather with Ath. 470f and Bentley (Diss. on Phalaris, ed. Dyce, i. p. 169 ff.), from their maker, Thericles of Corinth. But though their maker was a Corinthian, yet they were genuine Attic cups, properly of earthenware, though sometimes of other material: e.g. wood (C. I. G. 139, 8, 9), brass (Ath. 469b), silver (Jos. Ant. 11.1), gold (Ath. 199b), sometimes only gilt (Ath. 478a; cf. C. I. G. l.c.); also apparently of glass (θηρίκλειον: ποτήριον ὑέλινον, Photius, s. v.). Further they were made of terebinth (τέρμινθος), which was blacker than ebony, yet such that they could not be distinguished from earthenware (Theophrast. Hist. Plaut. 5.4, 2; Plin. Nat. 16.205). Other authors say that these cups were black and very bright (καθαρός), e. g. Eubulus in Ath. 471d; and it is this black polish that Schwenck thinks (Philologus, 24.3, 1866, pp. 552-554) is the distinctive feature of these vessels. The oldest Thericlean vessel we know of is that referred to in C. I. G. 139, 8, 9, which belongs to 425 B.C. A κύλιξ Θηρίκλειος had a broad top, and is compared to a shield (Aristoph. ap. Ath. 472c). It was rather large, holding three or four cotylae, and sometimes even as much as seven. (Ath. 472b, d, e.) The figure of one as given by Panofka (Plate iv., No. 34) is also represented by Krause (No. 26); but this does not agree with Eubulus ap. Ath. 471d, who calls it ὀξυπύνδακα, i. e. with bottom coming to a point. The Schol. on Clem. Alex. Paed. 2.3, who says it was round at the bottom, with the upper part like a funnel (χωνοειδές), so that it was easy to drink from, does not agree with the previously mentioned and more reliable statements. Possibly the figure given by Lau (Die Griechischen Vasen, Plate xix. fig. 4) may represent the kind, though it is very like a woman's breast (Plin. Nat. 33.81). Birch (p. 381) gives as a specimen of a Thericlean cup, one with a deep bowl and a long stem. (See cut below.)

These Thericlean cups were heavy in weight and expensive, and in competition the Rhodians (Ath. 469b) made a similar kind of cup of lighter

Thericleau Calix of early form, with black figures. (Birch.)

material and sufficiently cheap for persons of humble means to acquire. These were called ἡδυποτίδες. Further we hear of Ἀντιγονίδες, which, according to the Schol. on Clem. Alex., were like the Θηρίκλειοι in some points, but they had not the spherical bottom, and ended in a narrow aperture. Also of Σελευκίδες, whose [p. 1.348]handles were not closed, but consisted of four rods. Each two of these rods were close together at their junction with the cup, but diverged widely at the other extremity (Ath. 488e).

In Juvenal, 5.48, we read of calices called after a shoemaker of Beneventum, which had four nozzles. This was Vatinius (Mart. 14.96), who was afterwards a buffoon in the court of Nero (Tac. Ann. 15.34), and the cups were called Vatinii (Mart. 10.3, 4).

For the cups used in the Christian Church, see Smith's Dictionary of Christian Antiquities, art. Chalice.

Of somewhat different meaning to that of κύλιξ are the cognates κυλίχνη, κυλιχνίς, κυλίχνιον, which were covered vessels, and used as soup-tureens (if we may so infer from Aristoph. ap. Pollux, 10.88), but more specially as pots for medicines (Galen, Lex. Hippocr.; Poll. 6.98; Suidas, s. v. κυλίχνιον: cf. also Aristoph. Kn. 906; Ath. 480d, where Ussing rightly reads κυλιχνίδα). Calices are also found mentioned as covered vessels for cooking (Plin. Nat. 35.193), or serving up (Ovid. Fast. 5.509) food in. Varro (L. L. 5.127) derives it from calidus.

The chief works on the subject of Greek and Roman cups are Th. Panofka, Recherches sur les véritables noms des Vases Grecs, Paris, 1829; J. L. Ussing, De nominibus vasorum Graecorum, Copenhagen, 1844; J. H. Krause, Angeiologie, Halle, 1854; Birch, History of Ancient Pottery, London, 1873; Marquardt, Röm. Alterth. vii. p. 632 ff.


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  • Cross-references from this page (5):
    • Aristophanes, Knights, 906
    • Tacitus, Annales, 15.34
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 10.3
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 10.4
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 14.96
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