Scenes at the Grave
If judging from the frequency of women appearing at graves on Attic polychrome white ground lekythoi versus men, it appears that women visited the graves of the deceased more often than men in Classical Athens. The earliest depiction of a visit to a tomb comes from the neck of a black-figure loutrophoros by the Sappho painter at the end 6th century BCE. Even on this vessel, it is two women that flank the grave of the deceased. According to John H. Oakley in his 2004 Picturing Death in Classical Athens, scenes involving visits to the grave are by far the most popular scene on Attic white ground lekythoi, appearing on approximately 85% of the several thousand known lekythoi of this style (p. 485). This type of scene dominated lekythoi especially after the mid-5th century, even surpassing the popularity of scenes in domestic settings. In fact, by this time, the production of lekythoi reached their peak, resulting in more variety with respect to the images shown as well as the number of lekythoi found as grave goods.
Figures at these scenes can be: living visitors, the deceased shown dead or alive, or ambiguous figures that are difficult to label as living or deceased. The visiting figures most often mourn and/or bring offerings to the dead. Two women bracketing the grave is the most common motif.
Please select a lekythos by clicking on its thumbnail image, then hover over the scene for its iconographic analysis. Below the image of each individual lekythos, you will find more information about it including its artist, date of production, and a description. Feel free to zoom in and out and drag the images after you select a thumbnail.
Elderly Man and Deceased Son Non-Greek Girl Complex Stele and Two Lekythoi Grave Visit with Bird
Sarcophagus on top of Stele Youth Epiphany and Tutor Woman and Soldier Epiphany Woman Pouring Libation
Red Color Preservation Red/Yellow Color Preservation Fugitive Colors and Underdrawings Somber Epiphany
Many Ribbons at Grave Visit Grave with Many Deposits Eidolon and Epiphany Tymbos and Talle Stele