Marble grave stele with a family group

Period: Late Classical

Date: ca. 360 B.C.

Culture: Greek, Attic

Medium: Marble, Pentelic

Dimensions: H. 67 3/8 in. (171.1 cm)

Classification: Stone Sculpture

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1911

Accession Number: 11.100.2


In the center of this grave stele, a bearded man with a mantle draped over his legs and lower torso sits in rigid profile on a diphos (backless chair); he holds a staff in his raised right hand. Behind him stands a veiled woman who clasps the hand of a little girl. The child, draped in a chiton belted high above her waist, stares out at the viewer. A fourth, now fragmentary, female figure stands to the left of the group. With her left hand, she gently touches the arm of the seated man. Both he and the veiled woman behind him stare straight ahead as if the young woman who gazes down at them were invisible. The impression is that this young woman belongs to a world separate from that of the other three figures.
The name of the deceased would have been inscribed on the framing niche that originally surrounded this relief, but is now missing. Without this inscription it is unclear if the man and his family members mourn a dead daughter that faces them, or if the veiled woman who stands behind the seated man is actually mourning her dead father. Despite the scene's ambiguity and solemn sadness, it remains one of the most moving funerary reliefs from the Classical period.