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Dionysios of Kadianos’ Funeral Stele

November 14, 2013

Funeral stele were  grave markers providing details about, and in many instances a depiction of, the individual buried. Those that remain and are displayed within museums around the world can be ornate and indicative of the wealth of the family who had them carved. This short article provides an example of only one funeral stele; that of the Greek soldier Dionysios of Kardianos who died whilst serving on Cyprus.

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Cyprus became a vassal state of the Persian Empire in 526 BC. The Persian Empire allowed the Kings of Cyprus to rule independently subject to the payment of tribute and providing soldiers and ships to support the army during times of war. The Greeks were an important ally in attempts to free the Cypriots from Persian rule; though in 480 BC Cyprus had to provide military support for Xerxes invassion of Greece.

Evagoras I, King of Salamis, encouraged the settlement of Cyprus by Greeks during his reign, developing strong relationships with cities such as Athens. Furthermore, he became the dominant political and military force on the island whcih led to an uprising against Persian control supported by the Athenians. Unfortunately Athens did not provide the support anticpated and the Persian forces besieged Salamis, forcing Evagoras’ surrender. Further attempts to overthrow Persian control of the island were also unsuccessful and Cyprus continued to be a vassal state until Alexander the Great defeated the Persian Empire.

The funeral stele dates from the fifth century and may even be one of the Athenian soldiers who supported Evagoras. This stele adopts the three-quarter view style with the face in profile. Dionysios is fully armed ready for battle with a spear, shield and helmet. This representation, though of a person who has died, has an energy to it as it has been carved in such a way as to provide a sense of movement as if he is headed into battle. 

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From → Artefacts

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