Gravestone of Philoxenos and Philoumene
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Greek, Athens, about 400 B.C.
40 1/4 x 17 1/2 x 6 1/2 in.

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Philoxenos, a warrior with armor and shield, solemnly shakes hands with his wife Philomene on this stele, or gravestone, from Athens. Their names are carved above the figures' heads, and the figures were originally elaborated with painted details. The handshake was a symbolic and popular gesture on Classical gravestones: it could represent a simple farewell, a reunion in the afterlife, or a continuing connection between the deceased and the living. The fact that it is often difficult to tell which figure represents the deceased further emphasizes this connection of the worlds of the living and the dead. 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.