Marble stele (grave marker) of Sostratos

Greek, Attic

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 159

The inscription at the top of the stele informs us that it commemorates Sostratos, the son of Teisandros, of the deme of Paiania (an administrative precinct of Athens). Sostratos is presented as an athlete. In his right hand, he holds a strigil, the metal scraper used to cleanse the skin after it had been rubbed with oil. The slave boy beside him holds the aryballos (oil flask) and carries a garment over left shoulder. The youth's hand touching his head suggests that he may be crowning himself after a victory. The placement of the fingers offers the alternative that the gesture is one of mourning. This theme is continued in the siren just above: she tears her hair and beats her breast—traditional expressions of grief. The sphinxes at each end of the superstructure are guardians of the tomb.

Marble stele (grave marker) of Sostratos, Marble, Pentelic, Greek, Attic

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