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Stele of the Boy Apolexis

Pillars or rectangular slabs of stone were often carved with inscriptions and images in relief. These stele were used as grave markers in various areas throughout the ancient world, particularly in Athens, during the fifth and fourth centuries BC. This example served as a memorial for a young boy, who is depicted in low relief and placed within an architectural frame. The child’s name, Apolexis, is inscribed on the lintel of the structure. The stele would have been placed in one of the many family funerary plots that were located along the roads leading to Athens. Infant mortality was high and many such memorials were made. The image of this boy as he plays with some of his toys represents Greek interest in naturalism and continues to serve as a poignant evocation of childhood.

Greek, made in Attica
Stele of the Boy Apolexis
ca. 450–350 BC
Pentelic marble
H. (as preserved) 18 in. (45.8 cm); W. 14 1/8 in. (35.9 cm); Th. 3 1/4 in. (8.3 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, V. G. Simkhovitch Collection, 63.105.33