Terracotta kylix (drinking cup)

Attributed to the Painter of Munich 2660

Period: Classical

Date: ca. 460 B.C.

Culture: Greek, Attic

Medium: Terracotta; red-figure

Dimensions: H. 2 3/4 in. (7 cm); diameter 7 7/8 in. (20 cm)

Classification: Vases

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1917

Accession Number: 17.230.10


The exterior of this red-figure kylix (shallow drinking cup) is decorated with figures of boys at school with their instructors. On one side, two boys approach their instructor, who holds a stick. One of the boys holds a rolled manuscript and the other a writing tablet. Such tablets were made of thin pieces of wood covered with wax and fastened together with cords. Using a pointed stylus, the student would write on the wax. A similar scene decorates the other side of the cup, where a teacher holds out a short branch as a prize to the head of the class, and a second boy waits his turn.
Generally, there were three branches of elementary education in Classical Athens. Boys and, occasionally, girls were trained in the letters (reading, writing, and arithmetic, as well as literature), music (the lyre and the works of the great lyric poets), and gymnastics. Education was not compulsory as it was private and required a fee.