Eras Journal – Adams, G: Abstract

Abstract of Adams, G., “Familial Relationships, Hierarchy and their Representation on Athenian Grave Stelai”.

The intention of this study is to examine certain aspects of the social significance of Athenian Grave stelai from the Classical period. The focus is primarily on the representations upon these reliefs, the choice of iconography, and the implications for our knowledge of the relationships between the people concerned.

The focal point of the discussion is the depiction of families on the funerary stelai. The study shows that these pieces displayed not only familial pride and loyalty, but also exhibited the personal and familial status within society as a whole. It appears that a clear distinction was drawn between the various characters depicted upon the stelai in the differentiation of status, especially in regard to the representation of the leading male figure. Naturally, this is a typical aspect in view of the patriarchal nature of Athenian society at this time.

The symbols concerning status and hierarchy between the characters exhibited would have communicated a clear message to the intended audience, which would have consisted not only of the surviving family members, but also passers-by. It must be remembered that the grave stelaiare equally representations of both the deceased and their living relatives.