Grave stele of Sosibia, daughter of Eubios of (the deme of) Kephisia
about A.D. 160–170
Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 276; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 113 (additional published references).
Height x width: 83 x 49 cm (32 11/16 x 19 5/16 in.)
Medium or Technique
Marble (from Mt. Pentelikon near Athens)
Not On View
The inscription on the architrave of the architectural frame (naiskos), of standard Attic imperial form, reads as follows: (add Greek) (“Sosibia, daughter of Eubios, from Kephissia”).
Sosibia stands, nearly facing, and wears an Isiac costume of long tunic or chiton and knotted cloak or himation. She holds a musical rattle (sistrum) in her raised right hand and a bucket (situla) in her lowered left.
The stele has been chipped visibly on its architectural framework; otherwise it is in excellent condition. There is some incrustation on the surfaces.
The letter forms of the inscription suggest a date in the second century A.D. Sosibia’s hair belongs to the time of Marciana, sister of Trajan (see under no. 16.286). “The closely-knit folds in the bulging drapery of the toga figures on the Philopappos monument are only occasionally to be found on stelei. Although the Isiac costume and attributes are standard, the coiffure can be termed “fashionable” for its period. Ladies so dressed and with these attributes were presumably interested in the cult of Isis, but they were not necessarily priestesses or even extravagant devotees. This is one of the better survivors among the Attic imperial stelei of its class, single figures of the early second century A.D. in an architectural enframement.
Sosibia is shown as a devotee of Isis, the Egyptian goddess. She holds a sistrum (a ritual rattle) and a bucket of sacred Nile water. Her mantle, with its fringe and central knot copies that of Isis herself. During the Roman period, the cult of Isis was highly esteemed at Athens by members of the prosperous middle class.
Harvard Lab No. HI1531: Isotope ratios - delta13C +2.56 / delta18O -8.92, Attribution - Pentelikon, Justification - Fine grained marble.
In February 1876: found in the foundations of a house along Stadium Street, Athens, between the Mint and the Chamber of Deputies (Bouleuterion); by 1918: Vicomte du Dresnay Collection, Château du Dréneuc (Loire-Inférieure) (published by P. Perdrizet, Antiquités grecques de la collection du Vicomte du Dresnay, 1918, pl. 20); by 1969: with Hôtel Drouot, 7 Rue Drouot, Paris (Drouot auction, Paris, December 15, 1969, lot 135); by 1971: with Münzen und Medaillen A.G., Malzgasse 25, Basel, Switzerland; purchased by MFA from Münzen und Medaillen A.G., May 12, 1971
Edward J. and Mary S. Holmes Fund