Grave Stele of Philoxenos with his Wife, Philoumene

Unknownabout 400 B.C.

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

Philoxenos, wearing the armor of a warrior, tands before his wife Philomene, clasping her hand, on this stele (gravestone) from Athens. The figures were originally elaborated with painted details. A Greek inscription engraved above them identifies the couple. The handshake motif, or dexiosis, was a symbolic gesture that could represent a simple farewell, a reunion in the afterlife, or an ongoing connection between the deceased and the living.

It is often difficult to tell which figure represents the deceased on grave markers of the late 400s B.C. The living rarely display sorrow or grief. Instead, their calm, expressionless faces reproduce the idealized features and detachment that prevailed in the sculptural style of Athens at this time. Philoxenos, here represented as a soldier, probably distinguished himself in combat.


  • Title: Grave Stele of Philoxenos with his Wife, Philoumene
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: about 400 B.C.
  • Location Created: Greece (Attica)
  • Physical Dimensions: 102.2 × 44.5 × 16.5 cm (40 1/4 × 17 1/2 × 6 1/2 in.)
  • Type: Relief
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Marble
  • Terms of Use: Open Content
  • Number: 83.AA.378
  • Culture: Greek (Attic)
  • Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California
  • Creator Display Name: Unknown
  • Classification: Sculpture (Visual Works)

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