Akraiphia Grave Stelae

Title

Akraiphia Grave Stelae

Description

This grave stele marks the tomb of a young man named Mnasitheos. His likeness is depicted in a high relief on the stone unclothed and in profile facing left. He stands on a predella with legs separated as if walking forward. With his right hand, he holds a small flower bud up to his nose. The viewer can infer that the flower's scent is pleasing because he is carved to have an archaic smile. Archaic smiles like these were commonly used by 6th-century Greek sculptors to infuse a sense of liveliness and good cheer into their works.

Mnasitheos, with his left hand, holds a rooster before him, covering his groin region. Male sexual organs were lewdly linked in Attic Greek with many animals including sparrows but the word rooster (ἀλέκτωρ) cannot stand in for any of the many ancient words for penis making it unlikely that the sculptor was playing with his words. Rather these symbols, the flower and the rooster, are motifs of a common type of love-gift given by erastes (ἐραστής) to their young eromenos' (ἐρώμενος). The practice of giving these gifts was likely been in reference to the god Eros' connection with the bird.

Underneath the feet of the rooster, the following inscription is written "ΜΝΑΣΙΘΕΙΟ:ΜΝΕΜΕΙ/ΜΙ ΕΠΟΔΟΙ:ΚΑΛΟΝ / ΑΛΑΜΕΘΕΚΕΝ:ΠΥΡΙ / ΨΟΣ:ΑΡΨΑΙΕΣ:ΑΝΤΙ / ΦΙΛΕΜΟΣΥΝΕΣ." Another inscription is written beneath the ledge on which Mnasitheos stands. It reads "ΦΙΛΟΡΓΟΣ: ΕΠΟΙΕΕΝ."
ON STONE: ΜΝΑΣΙΘΕΙΟ:ΜΝΕΜΕΙ / ΜΙΕΠΟΔΟΙ:ΚΑΛΟΝ / ΑΛΑΜΕΘΕΚΕΝ:ΠΥΡΙ / ΨΟΣ:ΑΡΨΑΙΕΣ:ΑΝΤΙ / ΦΙΛΕΜΟΣΥΝΕΣ / ΦΙΛΟΡΓΟΣ:ΕΠΟΙΕ / ΕΝ

TRANSCRIBED: Μνασιθείο: μνɛμ ’ εἰμὶ ἐπ’ ὀδõι: καλόν: ἀλά μ’ ἔθεκεν: Πύριχος: ἀρχαίες: ἀντὶφιλεμοσύνες. Φιλορος ἐποίε<σ>εν

TRANSLATION: "Of Mnasitheos, I am the lovely remembrance on the road. Ah, but Pyrichos erected me here for old times sake. Philorgos made it."

Creator

Philourgos

Source

Seth Estrin, "Cold Comfort: Empathy and Memory in an Archaic Funerary Monument from Akraiphia." Classical Antiquity, vol 35, no 2 (2016) 189-214; Jeffrey Henderson, The Maculate Muse. (rev. Ed. 1991)

Date

520-510 BCE

Contributor

Pria Jackson, Tina Salowey (photo)

Rights

Images provided for non-commercial research and reference use only. No permission is required from the rights-holder(s) for educational uses. For other uses, you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s). Should you have use questions or any legal concerns about this image or collection, please contact the Wyndham Robertson Library.

Format

marble (rock)
bas-relief (sculpture technique); inscriptions

Language

Ancient Greek

Type

Identifier

akraiphia_01

Coverage

Akráfnion, Boeotia, Central Greece and Euboea, Greece
Thebes, Boeotia, Central Greece and Euboea, Greece

Citation

Philourgos, “Akraiphia Grave Stelae,” Hollins University Library Digital Exhibits, accessed October 22, 2019, http://digitalexhibits.hollins.edu/items/show/46.

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