Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Funerary Stele of "Child Eirenaios"
Work Type
2nd-3rd century CE
Roman Imperial period, Middle
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Crystalline Greek marble, probably from Thasos
31.25 cm h x 34 cm w x 12 cm d
(12 5/16 in. h x 13 3/8 in. w x 4 3/4 in. d)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: In Greek, in three lines on either side of the figure's head:

    Transliteration: Eirenais Eirenaio to paido mnias charin; translation: Eirenais [set this up] in memory of the boy Eirenaios.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of David M. Robinson
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
The Harvard Art Museums encourage the use of images found on this website for personal, noncommercial use, including educational and scholarly purposes. To request a higher resolution file of this image, please submit an online request.

Published Catalogue Text: Stone Sculptures: The Greek, Roman and Etruscan Collections of the Harvard University Art Museums , written 1990

Funerary Stele of “Child Eirenaios”

The upper part, with the subject's bust, frontally, in high relief, is preserved. The surfaces are weathered and somewhat pitted. The stone has a brown patina. The inscription is in Greek.

(on either side of the head)

The half figure is represented with head and body shown frontally, arms firmly at the sides. The style of the child's hair suggest a date in the Hadrianic period, probably about 120 A.D.

A stele of this type is in the Archaeological Museum, Istanbul, unfortunately without provenance. An obese child's bust is shown in middle to late second or third century A.D. form, down almost to the middle of the ribcage; the bust in relief is also represented as mounted on a small plinth or large pedestal (Mendel, 1914, p. 162, no. 947). A funerary relief of Alexandros in Lieden shows a similar, half-figure bust of a boy and was brought from Thera-Santorini; it has been dated in the Roman Imperial period (Bastet, Brunsting, 1982, pp. 91-92, no. 171, pl. 46). The purpose in these reliefs is to suggest a portrait-bust of the deceased.

These half-figure busts in relief of fat little children came into the art of the Graeco-Roman Imperial East not only from Egypt or Attica, or the Greek islands, but from Roman sarcophagi created for export to all parts of the Empire, especially Macedonia and North Africa. The busts of children on the sarcophagus in Algiers, Musée National des Antiquités, from Hadrumetum and dated A.D. 225-250, bears this out (Wrede, 1981, p. 200, pls. 18, 19). Whether sophisticated, as on sarcophagi, or rustic, as on this stele, these funerary children were part of the pan-Mediterranean verism of the Roman Empire.

Cornelius Vermeule and Amy Brauer

Publication History

Fogg Art Museum, The David Moore Robinson Bequest of Classical Art and Antiquities, A Special Exhibition, exh. cat., Harvard University (Cambridge, MA, 1961), p. 28, no. 220

Cornelius C. Vermeule III and Amy Brauer, Stone Sculptures: The Greek, Roman and Etruscan Collections of the Harvard University Art Museums, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), p. 119, no. 108

John Bodel and Stephen Tracy, Greek and Latin Inscriptions in the USA: A checklist, American Academy in Rome (New York, 1997), p. 48.

Exhibition History

The David Moore Robinson Bequest of Classical Art and Antiquities: A Special Exhibition, Fogg Art Museum, 05/01/1961 - 09/20/1961

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at