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Picturing Death in Classical Athens


  • 175 b/w illus. 16 colour illus.
  • Page extent: 306 pages
  • Size: 247 x 174 mm
  • Weight: 1.2 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 738.3/82/09385
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: NK4650.L5 O34 2004
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Lecythi
    • Vase-painting, Greek--Greece--Athens--Themes, motives
    • Greeks--Funeral customs and rites

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521820165 | ISBN-10: 0521820162)

This is the first in-depth study of the pictures found on Attic white lekythois. These funerary vases, placed in and on Athenian graves, have long been appreciated for their beautiful polychrome images that evoke the style of lost classical wall and mural paintings. The most important visual source for classical Greek funerary customs, they exhibit a limited range of subject matter, most of it connected with death. This richly illustrated volume closely examines the four major types of scenes: domestic pictures, the mythological conductors of the soul, the prothesis (wake), and visits to the grave. In addition to analysis of the iconographical development of each type, this study places these pictures in the historical, social, cultural, archaeological, and literary contexts, documenting relationships between the 'rites of Passage', Athenian history, the changing perceptions of death in fifth-century Athens, and funerary epigrams and laments.

• First comprehensive study of the pictures on white lekythois • Explains the social, historical and cultural reasons why these pictures were chosen for the these vessels • Richly illustrated: 8 color plates with 16 images, and 175 black and white illustrations


1. Introduction; 2. Domestic scenes; 3. The prothesis; 4. Myth and mythological figures; 5. Scenes at the grave; 6. Putting the pictures into context.


'The volume is handsomely illustrated … The book is written in a style that makes these attractive products and the important subject they highlight intelligible to a wide range of readers.' JACT

'… richly illustrated … will be of great value to scholars of death ritual.' Mortality

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