Grave stele of Iostrate

unknownmid 4th century BC

Royal Ontario Museum

Royal Ontario Museum
Toronto, Canada

On this marble gravestone a seated woman, the dead Iostrate, examines an open jewelry box held by a small servant-girl, who stands gazing at her. They are surrounded by an architectural frame inscribed with the name Iostrate, and a pediment decorated in in low relief with a siren, a bird-woman hybrid spirit of the dead. The two figures are shown completely absorbed in the scene, but they also slightly overlap the boundaries of the architectural frame, a reference to the interplay between the world of the dead, now oblivious to the cares of life, and the world of the living, those who will look at this gravestone. Such gravestones, made of local Pentelic marble by Athenian craftsmen, would have filled the cemeteries of Athens and Attica in the later 5th and 4th centuries BC. They were at once monuments to the dead, and displays of the wealth and status of the living family who erected the monument. The finely carved details of the seated woman’s dress and the expressive faces on this gravestone indicate that it was an expensive piece produced by an expert craftsman. Although the style of gravestone was common in ancient Athens, this is one of the few examples now in a museum outside Greece, a star of the collection of ancient Greek sculpture at the ROM.


  • Title: Grave stele of Iostrate
  • Creator: unknown
  • Date: mid 4th century BC
  • Location: Attica, Greece
  • Physical Dimensions: w59 x h135 cm
  • Type: stele
  • Rights: Royal Ontario Museum
  • Medium: Pentelic marble
  • Time period: Greek Classical Period
  • Accession Number: 956.108

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