Limestone funerary relief

Period: Hellenistic

Date: ca. 325–300 B.C.

Culture: Greek, South Italian, Tarentine

Medium: Limestone

Dimensions: H. 23 1/16 in. (58.5 cm); width as preserved 21 1/8 in. (53.6 cm)

Classification: Stone Sculpture

Credit Line: Fletcher Fund, 1929

Accession Number: 29.54


Tarentum (modern Taranto) was a wealthy Greek colony on the southeast coast of Italy, a pivotal location along the trade routes between Greece and Italy. During the fourth century B.C., ostentatious grave monuments in the form of small templelike buildings decorated with painted sculpture filled the city cemetery. This relief must come from such a building. It represents a young warrior and a woman standing by an altar. Between them is a vase for pouring a libation on the altar. On the wall behind them hang a cuirass, a helmet, and a sword, presumably the arms of the dead warrior for whom they mourn. It has been suggested that the relief depicts Elektra and Orestes at the tomb of their father Agamemnon, the legendary king of Mycenae. This scene, inspired by Aeschylus' Choephoroi, was a popular motif on South Italian vases.