Portrait head of Socrates

Imperial Period
about A.D. 170–195

Catalogue Raisonné

Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 120; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 109 (additional published references); Highlights: Classical Art (MFA), p. 170.


Overall: 20.4cm (8 1/16in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Marble from Mt. Pentelikon near Athens

On View

Greek Classical Gallery (Gallery 215B)


The Ancient World



This smallish head of Socrates was probably a herm-portrait originally. The vigorous carving belongs to the Antonine period, although it was likely based on a prototype attributed to Lysippos from the fourth century B.C.

Condition: The head is broken at the base of the neck. The nose, now missing, was repaired in antiquity with an iron pin and cement. There are a few modern pick marks on the face. Root marks and a yellow patina cover the surfaces.

Scientific Analysis:
Isotope ratios - delta13C +2.637 / delta18O -5.170, Attribution - Pentelikon, Justification (Petrographic Analysis) - maximum grain size (0.7mm), accessory minerals (muscovite).


By date unknown: said to be from the collection of an Eastern European diplomat; by date unknown: with Byron Th. Zoumboulakis, 8 Place de la Taconnerie, Geneva, Switzerland; February 11, 1960: purchased by MFA from Byron Th. Zoumboulakis for $ 2,000.00

Credit Line

Frederick Brown Fund