Inscribed on the base: to dear Me[gakles], on his death, his father with his dear mother set [me] up as a monument
This is the most complete grave monument of its type to have survived from the Archaic period. Fragments were acquired by The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1911, 1921, 1936, 1938, and 1951. The fragment with the girl's head, here a plaster copy, was acquired in 1903 by the Berlin Museums; the fragment with the youth's right forearm, also a plaster cast here, is in the National Museum in Athens. The capital and crowning sphinx are casts of the originals, displayed in a case nearby.
The youth on the shaft is shown as an athlete, with an aryballos (oil flask) suspended from his wrist. Athletics were an important part of every boy's education, and oil was used as a cleanser after exercise. He holds a pomegranate—a fruit associated with both fecundity and death in Greek myths—perhaps indicating that he had reached puberty before his death. The little girl, presumably a younger sister, holds a flower.
This exceptionally lavish monument, which stands over thirteen feet high, must have been erected by one of the wealthiest aristocratic families. Some scholars have restored the name of the youth in the inscription as Megakles, a name associated with the powerful clan of the Alkmeonidai, who opposed the tyrant Peisistratos during most of the second half of the sixth century B.C. The tombs of aristocratic families were sometimes desecrated and destroyed as a result of that conflict, and this stele may well have been among them.
Inscription: On the base: "To dear Me[gakles], on his death, his father with his dear mother set (me) up as a monument."
Said to be from Attica
Robinson, Edward. 1913. "An Archaic Greek Grave Monument." Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 8(5): pp. 94-9.
Langlotz, Ernst. 1920. Zur zeitbestimmung der strengrotfigurigen Vasenmalerei und der gleichzeitigen Plastik. p. 17, Leipzig: E. A. Seemann.
Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1922. "Accessions and Notes: A New Fragment of the Archaic Stele." Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 17(3): p. 68.
Chase, George H. 1924. Greek and Roman Sculpture in American Collections. pp. 25-8, figs. 27, 28, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Richter, Gisela M. A. 1927. Handbook of the Classical Collection. pp. 232-5, 283, figs. 158, 159, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Lawrence, Arnold Walter. 1929. Classical Sculpture. pp. 131-2, pl. 12b, London: J. Cape.
Richter, Gisela M. A. 1940. "An Archaic Greek Sphinx." Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 35(9): pp. 178-80, figs. 1-4.
Hall, Lindsley F. 1944. "Notes on the Colors Preserved on the Archaic Attic Gravestones in the Metropolitan Museum." American Journal of Archaeology, 48(4): p. 334-5, pl. VII.
Hill, Dorothy Kent. 1944. "Hera, the Sphinx?." Hesperia, 13(4): pp. 357-8, fig. 5, pl. XIII.
Richter, Gisela M. A. 1944. "Polychromy in Greek Sculpture." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, 2(8): p. 324, pl. VII.
Richter, Gisela Marie Augusta. 1944. "Polychromy in Greek Sculpture with Special Reference to the Archaic Attic Gravestones in the Metropolitan Museum." American Journal of Archaeology, 48(4): pp. 233-40, pls. 1-4.
Richter, Gisela M. A. 1944. Archaic Attic Gravestones. pp. 64-74, figs. 73-9, Cambridge, MA: Oberlin College.
Richter, Gisela M. A. 1950. The Sculpture and Sculptors of the Greeks, 3rd edn. pp. 132, 158, 491, 502, figs. 423, 458, New Haven: Yale University Press.
Richter, Gisela M. A. 1953. Handbook of the Greek Collection. no. 1, p. 134, pl. 113, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Dohrn, Tobias. 1957. Attische Plastik vom Tode des Phidias bis zum Wirken der grossen Meister des iv. Jahrhunderts v. Chr. no. 46
, pp. 94, 234, Krefeld: Scherpe.
Richter, Gisela M. A. 1961. The Archaic Gravestones of Attica. no. 37, p. 27, figs. 96-109, 19, London: Phaidon Press.
Pfohl, Gerhard. 1964. Monument und Epigramm: Studien zu den metrischen Inschriften der Griechen. p. 60, fig. 4, Nuremburg: Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg.
Cole, Nancy. 1968. Greek Athletic Games. no. 17, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Richter, Gisela M. A. 1970. "The Department of Greek and Roman Art: Triumphs and Tribulations." Metropolitan Museum Journal, 3: pp. 75-7, 82-3, 89-90, figs. 4, 18, 34.
Hoving, Thomas. 1970. "Director's Choice." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s.: p. 203.
Robertson, Martin and Cambridge University Press. 1975. A History of Greek Art, Vols. 1 and 2. pp. 108ff., pl. 29a, Cambridge, England.
Thimme, Jürgen. 1976. Kunst und Kultur der Kykladeninseln im 3. Jahrtausend v. Chr.: Ausstellung unter d. Patronat des International Council of Museums ICOM im Karlsruher Schloss vom 25. Juni-10. Oktober 1976. no. 16, pp. 30-31
, Karlsruhe: Müller.
Karouzou, Semni Papaspyridi. 1976. "On the Brother and Sister Stele in the Museums of New York, Athens, and Berlin." Archaiologikon Deltion, 31: pp. 9-22, 353-8, pls. 1, 2.
Reuterswärd, Patrik. 1980. Studien zur Polychromie der Plastik. p. 78, Stockholm: Bokförlaget Svenska.
Martelli, Marina Cristofani. 1983. "Il 'Marte' di Ravenna." Xenia Antiqua, 6: p. 10, fig. 15.
Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1987. Greece and Rome. no. 16, pp. 30-1, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Ridgway, B.S. 1990. "Metal Attachments in Greek Marble Sculpture." Marble: Art Historical and Scientific Perspectives on Ancient Sculpture, Dr. Marion True and Mr. Jerry Podany, eds. p. 201, Malibu, C.A.: J. Paul Getty Museum.
Bodel, John P. and Stephen Tracy. 1997. Greek and Latin Inscriptions in the USA: A Checklist. p. 184, Rome: The American Academy in Rome.
Brinkmann, Vinzenz. 1998. Frisuren in Stein: Arbeitsweisen frühgriechischer Bildhauer. pp. 28, 44, n. 119, München: Biering und Brinkmann.
Manchester, Karen. 1999. "The New Greek and Roman Galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art." Apollo, 150: p. 10, fig. 15.
Oakley, John H., Lesley A. Beaumont, H. Alan Shapiro, and Jenifer Neils. 2003. "Death and the Child." Coming of Age in Ancient Greece: Images of Childhood from the Classical Past, Jenifer Neils, John H. Oakley, and Katherine Hart, eds. p. 180, fig. 19, New Haven: Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College.
Picón, Carlos A. 2007. Art of the Classical World in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Greece, Cyprus, Etruria, Rome no. 71, pp. 74-75, 420, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Stylianou, Andreas and Patrick Schollmeyer. 2007. "Der Sarkophag aus Golgoi." Dynastensarkophage mit szenischen Reliefs aus Byblos und Zypern: Der Sarkophag aus Amathous als Beispiel kontaktinduzierten Wandels, 2. pp. 37 n. 192, 154 n. 1276, 174, Mainz am Rhein: Philipp von Zabern.
Oakley, John H., Olga Palagia, and H. Alan Shapiro. 2009. "Children in Athenian Funerary Art During the Peloponnesian War." Art in Athens During the Peloponnesian War, Olga Palagia, ed. p. 213, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Mertens, Joan R. 2010. How to Read Greek Vases. pp. 46, 59, 62, fig. 26, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Schwarzmaier, Agnes. 2012. Die Antikensammlung: Altes Museum, Neues Museum, Pergamonmuseum no. 23, pp. 59-60, fig. 15, Darmstadt: Verlag Philipp von Zabern.
Lazzarini, Lorenzo and Dr. Clemente Marconi. 2014. "A New Analysis of Major Greek Sculptures in the Metropolitan Museum: Petrological and Stylistic." Metropolitan Museum Journal, 49: pp. 125-6, 130, fig. 24.