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Pottery: Greek Pentathlete
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Pottery: Greek Pentathlete

Painting of Pentathlete On Kylix (Cup)

Painting of Pentathlete On Kylix (Cup)

license: public domain
source: Wikimedia Commons
author: Marie-Lan Nguyen

The interior of a kylix (Greek drinking cup) bears a depiction of a nude pentathlete posing within a circle. He holds a discus in his left hand and what may be a strigil (cleaning tool) in his right. A pair of halteres and a mattock (for preparing the skamma) are depicted near him. An inscription that sits within a portion of the ring, followed by its translation here, is as follows:


Kleomelos is handsome


Artifact: c. 500 BC

Photo: 2006


This illustration depicts an athlete training for or participating in the pentathlon, an event featured in the ancient Olympic Games and other Panhellenic festivals. Several elements from this five-fold event can be seen in this illustration. The athlete holds a discus in his left hand, referencing the discus throw. A mattock, which was used to prepare the skamma (wrestling pit) for palé (Greek wrestling) sits to the left. Two items referencing the long jump hang suspended in the image; a pair of halteres to the right (used to gain extra momentum for the  jump) and the mattock to the left. (The skamma also served as the long jump landing area.) The item in his right hand is obscured by his leg, but it is likely part of a javelin shaft, referencing the javelin throw.

The stadion sprint does not appear to be represented here. This is expected, as it is common for terracotta paintings of pentathletes to be absent of this imagery.

Related Articles

Greek Pentathlon | Greek Discus | Greek Javelin | Greek Halteres | Greek Stadion | Greek Palé (Wreslting) | Ancient Olympic Games | Panhellenic Games


Zarnowski, F. (2013). The pentathlon of the ancient world. McFarland.

Miller, S. G. (2006). Ancient Greek athletics. New Haven: Yale University Press.