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My Favourite Planet > English > People > Aristokles

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Aristokles

Aristokles (Ἀριστοκλε͂ς or Ἀριστοκλῆς), a Greek sculptor, working in Attica at the end of the 6th century BC. Nothing is known about his life, and only his name is known from signatures on surviving parts of funerary monuments from Attica. These may be have been works by more than one sculptor of this name.

Works by one or more sculptors of the same name and thought to have been working in the 6th - 5th centuries BC are mentioned by ancient authors. One is known as Aristokles of Kydonia (also referred to as Aristokles the Elder, perhaps around 600-568 BC) and the other Aristokles of Sikyon (Aristokles the Younger), who may have been the grandson of the former and was mentioned by Pausanias as the brother of Kanachos of Sikyon (the Elder), thought to have been working around the same time (around 540-508 BC).

"Ptolichus was a pupil of his father Synnoon, and he of Aristocles the Sicyonian, a brother of Canachus and almost as famous an artist."

Pausanias, Description of Greece, Book 6, chapter 9, section 1.

Aristokles was not an uncommon name, and no connection has been established between these artists and the sculptor (or sculptors) working in Athens around this time.

A grave stele of Pentelic marble, dated to around 510 BC, and found in 1838 in the ancient cemetery of Velanideza, eastern Attica, is signed at the bottom "work of Aristokles" (ἔργον Ἀριστοκλέος, ergon Aristokleos). The rectangular base of the stele is also inscribed with the name of the deceased man Aristion (Ἀριστίονος, Aristionos). [1]

The stele itself has a finely sculpted and painted low relief showing the full-length figure of a bearded, barefooted hoplite wearing a helmet, a cuirass over a chitoniskos and greaves (shin armour), and holding a spear in his left hand. The background was painted red, and some of the colour can still be seen, as well as traces of red, blue and yellow on the figure. The tip of the beard as well as the top of stele, including the top of the helmet and the finial, are missing.

Stele height 202 cm, width 14 cm.
Base height 24 cm, width 72 cm, depth 43 cm.

National Archaeological Museum, Athens. Inv. No. 29.

A plaster cast of the stele, without the base, is on display in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Inv. No. D4.

The lower part of a similar Attic grave stele, made of Hymettian marble and dated to 525–515 BC, shows the legs and feet of a hoplite and the lower part of spear. In the panel below the figure is a painted relief of an armoured warrior mounting a four-horse chariot, probably a competitor in an apobates race.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Inv. No. 38.11.13.

See: metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/253566

Aristokles' signature has been found on parts of funerary monuments, all dated around 525-500 BC, from Kerameikos, Athens, now in the Kerameikos Archaeological Museum:

The base of a funerary statue, possibly of a horseman, for Xenophantos son of Sophilos. Inv. No. I 389 (see below).

Base for a marble kouros statue for a Carian.
Inv. No. I 190 (see below).

Fragment of a funerary stele for a woman.
Inv. No. P 1265.
 
The grave stele of Aristion, signed on the base by Aristokles at My Favourite Planet

The grave stele of Aristion,
signed on the base by Aristokles.

See larger photos below.
Detail of the relief of Aristion at My Favourite Planet

Detail of the relief of Aristion. The carving of the hair, beard and folds of the
sleeve are particularly fine and detailed. There is a lightly sculpted star on the
shoulder, and the figure is also decorated with Meander and zig-zag patterns.

The museum labelling describes the stele as
"one of the most beautiful Attic grave steles".
The signature of Aristokles on the grave stele of Aristion at My Favourite Planet

The signature of Aristokles beneath of the feet of the relief figure,
and the name of the deceased man Aristion inscribed on the base.

ἔργον Ἀριστοκλέος (ergon Aristokleos, work of Aristokles)

Ἀριστίονος (Aristionos, Aristion's)

Inscription IG I(3) 1256.
 

Archaic warrior grave stele from the Greek island of Syme at My Favourite Planet

A warrior with a spear on an
Archaic marble grave stele from
the Greek island of Syme. In the
lower register is a wild boar.

1st half of the 6th century BC.
Local marble.

Istanbul Archaeological Museum.
Inv. No. 507 T. Cat. Mendel 14.
 
Attic gravestone with a painted relief of young doryphoros at My Favourite Planet

Fragment of an Archaic Attic gravestone with
a painted relief of young doryphoros (spear
carrier), facing right, on a red background.

550-540 BC. Parian marble. Found built into
the Themistokleian Wall, Athens.

National Archaeological Museum, Athens.
Inv. No. 7901.
 

Archaic warrior grave stele from the Greek island of Syme at My Favourite Planet

Part of an  Archaic poros limestone
grave stele with a relief depicting
a male, the deceased, shown in
profile, walking to the right, holding
a staff and a sword. Surviving traces
of paint suggest that the figure was
painted red, with brown hair against
a blue background. The border of
the stele was also red.

570-560 BC. Found to the west of the
Tripopatreion, Kerameikos, Athens.

Kerameikos Archaeological Museum.
Inv. No. P 1132.
   
Base of a funerary statue signed by the sculptor Aristokles at My Favourite Planet

The base of a funerary statue, possibly of a horseman, signed by Aristokles. In the elegy
inscribed on the front of the long base Sophilos addresses his deceased son Xenophantos.

[σ]ε͂μα τόδε, Χσενόφαντε,
πατέρ σο<ι> θε͂κε θανόντι /
Σόφιλος, ℎο͂ι πένθος
θε͂κας ἀποφθίμενος.
Ἀριστοκλε͂ς ἐποίεσεν.

This monument, Xenophantos,
was erected by your father
Sophilos for the great sorrow
you caused by your loss.
Aristokles made it.

Inscription IG I(3) 1218.

520-510 BC. Found in a tower of the Dipylon Gate, Kerameikos, Athens.

Kerameikos Archaeological Museum. Inv. No. I 389.
The top of the base of the funerary statue for Xenophantos at My Favourite Planet

The top of the base of the funerary statue for Xenophantos.
Base of a funerary statue signed by the sculptor Aristokles at My Favourite Planet

Fragment of a base of a marble kouros statue, signed by Aristokles, for the deceased
"Tyr... from Caria, son of Skylax". The damaged and incomplete inscription includes a line
in Carian script (for more about Carians see Herodotus and Panyassis of Halicarnassus)

σε͂μα τόδε ∶ Τυρ̣- -
Καρὸς το͂ Σκύλ[ακος]
(in Carian script) s-e-a-s S-a-k-q-u-r-[-].
[Ἀ]ριστοκλε͂ς ἐπ[οίεσεν(?)]

This is the tomb of Tyr... from Caria,
son of Skylax.
(in Carian) Monument of Skylax.
Aristokles made it.

Inscription IG I(3) 1344.

One reading of the inscription (SEG 13:36) reconstructs
the name of the deceased as Τύμ[νεο] (Tymneo, Tymnes).

520-500 BC. Found in the area of the Piraeus Gate, Athens.

Kerameikos Archaeological Museum. Inv. No. I 190.
 
Aristokles Notes, references and links

1. The discovery of the stele of Aristion at Velanideza

The American archaeologist Carl Darling Buck (1866-1955) discussed the "The stele of Aristion" in relation to a similar stele he discovered in 1888 at Ikaria, Mount Penteli, Attica (see photo, right):

"The stele of Aristion was found in 1838 in the ruined village of Velanideza, which lies about two-thirds the distance between Spata and the eastern coast of Attika, not, as is frequently stated, on the plain of Marathon, between which and Velanideza intervenes the eastern range of Pentelikon."

Carl D. Buck, Discoveries in the Attic Deme of Ikaria, 1888. Sculpture. Stele of a warrior (Plate IX). Papers of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Volume V, 1886-1890, pages 126-134. Archaeological Institute of America. Damrell and Upham, Boston MA, 1892. At Heidelberg University Library.

Other, more recent sources date the discovery of the stele of Aristion to 1839. However, I have yet to find confirmation of the find date or first-hand details of its excavation.

See the fragments of a colossal marble statue of Dionysus which Buck discovered at Ikaria.
 
The Archaic warrior grave stele discovered at Ikaria, Attica at My Favourite Planet

The fragmented Archaic warrior
stele found by Carl D. Buck at
Ikaria, Attica in 1888 (the head
of the figure was found later).

Pentelic marble. Circa 530 BC.
Height 172 cm, width 41-48.5 cm,
depth 12 cm.

National Archaeological Museum,
Athens. Inv. No. 3071.

Source: Carl D. Buck,
Discoveries in the Attic Deme
of Ikaria, 1888
, Plate IX.
Photos and articles © David John
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