The kylix was designed primarily for the drinking of wine, and was the most commonplace vessel for this purpose. 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. The musicians on the kylix seem to allude to Dionysian rites – a very fitting image in the context of a wine vessel.
To find out more about different types of Greek vessel please see our relevant blog post: Collecting Greek Vases.