In this lyrically written and beautifully illustrated study, Seth Estrin probes the emotional effects of one of the largest and most important categories of Greek sculpture: the funerary monuments of Classical Athens. Instead of simply documenting experiences of bereavement, he demonstrates that funerary monuments played a vital role in giving grief visual and material presence, employing the subtle effects of relief sculpture to make private experiences of loss socially meaningful to others. By identifying the deaths they marked as worthy of grief, funerary monuments mobilized fundamental questions about sculptural form and pictorial recognition to political ends, instrumentalizing the emotional dimensions of sculpture as a means to construct and uphold social hierarchies. Grounded in careful study of numerous monuments, new readings of their accompanying epigrams and ancient literary sources, and close consideration of both ancient and modern theories of emotion, Grief Made Marble makes a landmark contribution not only to the study of Greek sculpture, but to our broader understanding of the relationship between art and emotion in antiquity.
“Estrin offers a beautifully subtle analysis of funerary sculpture on its own terms—one that is sensitive to historical context, but that also builds a complex dynamic between the invisible body buried within the grave and the peculiarly elusive ‘presence’ of the stone forms. What emerges is a study that will be vital reading for anyone interested in classics, art history, or funerary art across all cultures and periods.”—Verity Platt, Cornell University
“This book is beautifully written and makes many important, original contributions to the field. It made me rethink my own assumptions about this material, which is just what a good book should do.”—Sheila Dillon, Duke University