Stele depicting infant Herakles, Kastor, Polydeukes,Athena Alea, a war ship, and a proxeny decree

Greek
Early Hellenistic Period
about 365–363 B.C.


Catalogue Raisonné

Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), no. 016.

Dimensions

Overall: 65 x 32.5 x 20cm (25 9/16 x 12 13/16 x 7 7/8in.) 280 LBS DV

Accession Number

1987.297

Medium or Technique

Marble, possibly from Lakonia, southern Greece

On View

Gallery 212A-B

Collections

The Ancient World

Classifications

Sculpture

A carved stele in the shape of a pedimented rectangular block with a series of relief panels and a proxeny decree of great significance to Boiotian/Theban history. There are four sections: at the top is the infant Herakles (who was born at Thebes in Boiotia), strangling snakes. In the middle zone are the divine horsemen Kastor and Polydeukes (representatives of Sparta?) and patrons of travelers, and Athena Alea, a goddess of the Peloponnesos. In the third zone is a warship equipped with a three-pronged ram at its prow, two runs of heavy wales, and stanchions at the level of the rail indicating either rower stations or support for a deck above; the lack of oars and sails suggests the ship is at rest.

The text declares that Timeas, a man of Laconia (in the southern Peloponnesos), will look after Boiotian interests there, for which he is granted privileges in Boiotia.
Partial diplomatic text broken off beneath ship.

Inscribed: (Greek inscription to be added) “Polydeukes, Castor, Athena Alea.
God. Resolved by the people. Ergoteles was archon, Ismeinias proposed. Let Timea[s] son of Cheirikrates the Lakonian be pro[xenos] and benefacto[r of the Boio]tians, both him and his descen[dants] and let him have the right to (purchase) land a[nd a house]…

Rare example of a Boiotian public document accompanied by a sculpted relief. Important document demonstrating ship building campaign of Boiotians in period when Thebans and Spartans were hostile.

Scientific Analysis:

University of South Florida Lab No. 8415: Isotope ratios - delta13C +2.3 / delta18O +0.1,

Attribution - possibly from Lakonia. Justification - fine grain, C and O isotopes, similar to Gourani quarry, perirhanteria, capital from Olympia in Berlin.

Provenance

By date unknown: George Ortiz Collection, Geneva (said to have come from a German dealer and to be from Thebes); 1986: acquired from George Ortiz by Robin Symes, Limited, 3 Ormond Yard, Duke of York Street, St. James's, London SW 1; purchased by MFA from Robin Symes, Limited, June 24, 1987

Credit Line

John H. and Ernestine A. Payne Fund