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Title: Kantharos  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Boeotian vase painting, Psiax, Red-figure pottery, Smikros, West Slope Ware
Collection: Ancient Greek Pot Shapes
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Red-figure Apulian kantharos with a female head, 320–310 BC (Walters Art Museum)

A kantharos (Ancient Greek: κάνθαρος) or cantharus is a type of Greek pottery used for drinking. In its iconic "Type A" form, it is characterized by its deep bowl, tall pedestal foot, and pair of high-swung handles which extend above the lip of the pot. The Greek words kotylos (κότῦλος, masculine) and kotyle (κοτύλη, feminine) are other ancient names for this same shape.[1]

The kantharos is a cup used to hold wine, possibly for drinking or for ritual use or offerings. The kantharos seems to be an attribute of Dionysos, the god of wine, who was associated with vegetation and fertility.[2]

It may not be a banquet-cup, but rather a vessel used in pagan cult as a symbol of rebirth or resurrection, the immortality offered by wine, "removing in moments of ecstasy the burden of self-consciousness and elevating man to the rank of deity."[3]

See also


  1. ^ Andrew J. Clark; Maya Elston; Mary Louise Hart (2002), Understanding Greek Vases: A Guide to Terms, Styles, and Techniques, Getty, p. 101,  
  2. ^ George W. Elderkin, Kantharos: Studies in Dionysiac and Kindred Cult (Princeton: Princeton University Press 1924):4
  3. ^ Elderkin, Kantharos: Studies in Dionysiac and Kindred Cult, 2-6


  • Gina Hander. "CU Classics: Greek Vase Exhibit: Kantharos". Colorado University. 
  • E. Mulder. "Boeotia, Land of the Kantharos" (PDF). University of Leiden. 
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