Tombstone of Hediste (Volos Λ1)

Square shaped stele with a painted scene

© HMCS, EFA Magnesias, photo: M. Stamatopoulou

Hediste died during her first labour, as we learn from the epigram. She lies on a bed, dishevelled, in an interior, architecturally defined, private setting. A man is seated opposite her, while family members and household slaves hold her swaddled baby (also deceased). Death in childbirth is rendered in a manner unique to the city. The depiction of interior space with receding planes recalls Pompeian painting, while the quiet grief corresponds to the poignancy of the funerary poem inscribed on the tombstone.


“A painful thread for Hediste did the Fates weave from their spindles when, as a young wife, she came to the throes of childbirth. Ah wretched one! For it was not fated that she should cradle the infant in her arms, nor moisten the lips of her newborn child at her breast. One light looks upon both and Fortune has brought both to a single tomb, making no distinction when she came upon them”.