The Joy of Museums

Finding Beauty & Meaning in Museums

Gravestone for Theophile

RD Milns Antiquities Museum - Joy of Museums - Attic Gravestone 4th Century BC

This Gravestone for Theophile, was found on the Piraeus Necropolis in Athens in 1805, These gravestones are also called a funerary stele. This stele has been broken and only the lower part of a marble gravestone has been found, showing a woman seated on a chair saying farewell to a standing figure before her. Beneath the relief scene is an inscription in in ancient Greek which reads:

‘Records of your virtue, Theophile, will never pass unnoticed, modest and excellent and industrious, possessing every virtue.’

Theophile was an Athenian woman whose family inscribed with an epigram praising her virtues. However we can’t tell if Theophile was from a citizen or a non-citizen resident family, as the top portion of the marble where these details were usually included is lost. This tombstone to Theophile can tells us how women were viewed in ancient Athens.

This historic find was made by Edward Dodwell (1767–1832), who was an Irish painter, traveller and a writer on archaeology. Dodwell travelled from 1801 to 1806 in Greece, and excavated this find as part of his Grand Tour. Dodwell later published A Classical and Topographical Tour through Greece (1819) where this Attic Gravestone is featured.

Essential Facts:

  • Name:                    Attic Gravestone 4th Century BC
  • Provenance:         Piraeus Necropolis, Athens
  • Date:                      400-350 BC
  • Material:               Marble
  • Find Date:             1805
  • Museum:               RD Milns Antiquities Museum


“I declare
That later on,
Even in an age unlike our own,
Someone will remember who we are.”



Photo Credit: By GordonMakryllos (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons