Grave Relief from Pharsalos, frontal view

Grave Relief from Pharsalos, detail of upper portion of relief

Grave Relief from Pharsalos, detail of head on right

Grave Relief from Pharsalos, detail of head on left

Collection: Paris, Musée du Louvre
Title: Stele from Pharsalos
Findspot: Said to be from Pharsalos
Summary: Two facing women holding flowers
Object Function: Funerary
Material: Marble
Sculpture Type: Stele, relief-decorated
Category: Single monument
Style: Early Classical
Technique: Low relief
Original or Copy: Original
Date: ca. 470 BC - ca. 460 BC

H 0.565 m, W 0.67 m, D 0.15 m

Scale: Under life-size
Region: Thessaly
Period: Early Classical

Subject Description:

The fragmentary stele from Pharsalos in Thessaly depicts two women, preserved from the waists up. They face each other, and the directness of their glances suggests an aura of intimacy. The women are dressed in nearly identical fashion. Each wears a peplos pinned at the shoulder, leaving the arm in view almost entirely exposed. The finely combed hair is bound in a saccos, the end of which emerges in front of the ear. They do not wear jewelry. Each holds a pomegranate (or flower, according to some) in her raised right hand. The figure on the left holds some sort of pouch in her left hand, from which it dangles. The figure on the right also appears to hold another object, but since the relief is broken across her hand, the object is difficult to identify.

Since the time of its discovery in 1863, the relief has been a focus of controversy. It is now generally agreed that the relief is funerary rather than votive, that the figures represented are mortals rather than goddesses, and that both figures are standing (there may be less consensus on this score). The precise significance of the objects they hold or offer to each other remains unclear.

Condition: Single fragment

Condition Description:

Relief preserved on both sides, broken across top and bottom. Weathered; many pick marks and surface nicks but most features of both figures are clear in so far as the figures are preserved.

Material Description:

Parian marble (Hamiaux)

Collection History: Found at the church of Paleo-Loutro in Pharsalus by the expedition of Heuzey and Daumet, 1863.

Sources Used: Hamiaux 1992, no. 98 (with previous bib.); Boardman 1985a, 68; Tölle-Kastenbein 1980, 83f.; Langlotz 1975, 123; Berger 1970, 117f.; Richter 1970b, 46f.; Biesantz 1965, K 36; Hampe 1951

Other Bibliography: Schefold 1960, 59f., 222; Besque, Rev. des Arts 1953, 57; Friis Johansen 1951, 141f.; Richter 1949, 157; EncPhot, 147; Langlotz 1927, pl.10; BrBr, 58