Wednesday, April 20, 2022


The Anavysos Kouros

Funerary statue at Athens, National Archaeological Museum (inv. no. 3851):
H.A. Shapiro, "The Iconography of Mourning in Athenian Art," American Journal of Archaeology 95.4 (October, 1991) 629-656 (at 632):
I would suggest that the principal impulse behind most of these representations—specifically those associated with the tombs of men—is the heroization of the dead. By "heroization" I do not mean that the dead are turned into objects of cult or chthonic demi-gods, as in some parts of Greece,19 but rather that they are likened to the heroes whose aretē was celebrated in the Homeric poems. In sculpture, an obvious example would be a kouros like the Kroisos from Anavysos, of the 530s: youthful, powerful, idealized, heroically nude, his death in battle described in an elegiac couplet carved on the base. Even the diction is self-consciously Homeric: "Stand and mourn at the monument of dead Kroisos, whom furious Ares destroyed one day as he fought in the front ranks."20 The information that Kroisos died in battle is significant, among other reasons, because there is no hint of this in the nude figure, no armor or attribute of war.

19 Cf. Himmelmann 41-42, who shows how the "heroischer Totenkult" alluded to on gravestones from many other parts of Greece is absent from the Attic series.

20 Athens NM 3851; G.M.A. Richter, Kouroi3 (London 1970) no. 136; on the epigram see P.A. Hansen, Carmina epigraphica graeca (Berlin 1983) no. 27. On the Homeric diction and vocabulary of Archaic Attic grave epigrams see P. Friedlander and H.B. Hoffleit, Epigrammata (Berkeley 1948) 32-35. On the correlation of the epigram with the monument see U. Ecker, Grabmal und Epigram. Studien zur frühgriechischen Sepulkraldichtung (Stuttgart 1989) and J.W. Day, "Rituals in Stone: Early Greek Grave Epigrams and Monuments," JHS 109 (1989) 16-28, esp. 19 on Kroisos. On the particular connotations of promachoi ("those who fight in the front ranks") see I. Morris, Burial and Ancient Society (Cambridge 1987) 199. On the social aspects of funerary kouroi see now A.M. D'Onofrio, "Korai e kouroi funerari attici," AnnNap 4 (1982) 135-70.
The Greek as printed in Paul Friedländer and Herbert B. Hoffleit, Epigrammata: Greek Inscriptions in Verse from the Beginnings to the Persian Wars (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1948), p. 86:
Στῆθι καὶ οἴκτιρον Κροίσου παρὰ σῆμα θανόντος
    ὅν ποτ' ἐνὶ προμάχοις ὤλεσε θοῦρος Ἄρης.

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