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date: 24 February 2021


  • Andrew F. Stewart

A Greek term for column-shafts carved in the form of draped women; male equivalents were called Atlantides (see atlas). Apparently named after Caryae in Laconia, where virgins danced to Artemis Caryatis (Pratin. Lyr. 4; Paus. 3. 10. 7). Of near-eastern derivation (e.g. Tell Halaf), they appear in Greece around 550 bce, and are popular on late Archaic treasuries at Delphi; the most famous are those of the Athenian Erechtheum. The Erechtheum accounts, however, simply call them korai; in this case, perhaps, they were civic versions of the private korē dedications of the past. Copies of the Erechtheum caryatids embellished the forum Augustum, the Pantheon, and Hadrian's villa at Tibur. Vitruvius (1. 1. 5) calls them ‘images of eternal servitude’, and connects them with Caryae's punishment for Medism in the Persian Wars, but since the type is unquestionably earlier and Caryae was destroyed much later (370; 222 bce), this must be an aition (explanation) invented after the fact (see K. Milnor, Gender, Domesticity, and the Age of Augustus. (2005), 110–15).


  • A. F. Stewart, Greek Sculpture (1990), figs. 124, 188–189, 431–432.
  • D. E. E. Kleiner, Roman Sculpture (1992) figs. 83, 214–215.
  • G. Campbell (ed.), The Grove Encyclopedia of Classical Art and Architecture (2007), q.v.