A charming Attic black-figure ceramic skyphos with a pedestal base, bulbous body, and two handles. Decoration in the form of a dark-coloured band is visible on the base and on the vessel’s handle. The inside of the cup is painted in dark brown-red, with a decorative central circle in a light red. The body of the skyphos is decorated with two palmettes to each side, framing a central silhouette of a stylised sphinx.
Date: 6th - 5th Century BC Condition: Very fine condition; some signs of ageing on the surface.
Skyphoi were drinking cups (usually for wine) that took the form of deep bowls with two handles, usually with a low base. They were pioneered in Corinth.
According to the mythological tradition of ancient Greece, the winged sphinx was a hybrid creature: it had the head of a human, the body of a lion, and the wings of a bird. The Sphinx is usually characterised as cruel and treacherous, typically telling a person a riddle, and killing and eating those unable to answer it correctly. The creature appears in a variety of myths and stories – perhaps most famously as part of the Oedipus myth, in which the protagonist correctly answered the Sphinx’s riddle and thus became king of Thebes: the first step in the realisation of his fate.
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