The Nikandre Statue was excavated at the Temple of Artemis on Delos. Its inscription indicates that it was dedicated by Nikandre, often presumed to be a priestess of Artemis, possibly on the occasion of her marriage and exit from her post as priestess. The statue is of a woman slightly larger than life size, about 1.75m or 5’9″ tall, and very flat. The carving on the front and the back of the statue is equally detailed, which might indicate placement in the center of a space where it could be seen from all directions. The woman is sculpted in the Daedelic style, with stylized hair and a “flat-topped, U-shaped face” (Shapiro, 271). It is impossible to see with any clarity what the particular facial features were, since they have been badly eroded, but it is not difficult to imagine her with the same severe expression that characterized other Daedelic females, like the contemporary “Lady of Auxerre” from Crete. The statue shares several characteristics with the kourai that come after: a rigid position, very carefully styled hair, and hands positioned stiffly at the sides.
The dedication on the statue’s left side reads:
Nikandre dedicated me to the far-shooter, pourer of arrows,
The excellent daughter of Deinodikes of Naxos, the sister of Deionomenes,
And [now?] the wife of Phraxos.
Although Nikandre is identified as the individual nominally dedicating the offering, it is not entirely clear who the statue represents: Artemis, Nikandre herself, or a generic female kore form such as those that follow after. If the statute is meant to represent Nikandre personally, then the inscription, while brief, says much more about the purpose of the statue than just the occasion of its dedication (Nikandre’s marriage). The first line of the inscription describes Artemis, which is standard at the time, but the next line describes Nikandre in just one word, “excellence” (Day 69). Following this is the identification of the male members of her immediate family: her father, her brother, and her husband.
While the inclusion of her husband’s name might seem normal if the dedication is, in fact, prompted by recent marriage, the listing of her father and brother, and particularly the description of her as the “excellent daughter” of Deinodikes, should make us pause. While the statue purports itself to be dedicated by Nikandre, it is likely that the men listed after her had substantially more say in its creation. “The over life-sized marble kore, richly dressed,is a consummate display of their wealth and status,” Day writes (69).
This concern for the status of the family and its connection to the status of the individual are particularly significant in light of the fact that the Nikandre statue is one of the earliest known marble kore. Despite this, it shares immediately recognizable features with the kourai that follow in the next century. Kalokagathia, represented by these females, is closely associated with the idea of good family, and the ties between individual and family that are presented in the Nikandre statue are continually alluded to in later years, both directly and indirectly. Portrayals of beautiful young, graceful, noble young women are meant to reflect well on their noble families. Additionally, during the Archaic period there were numerous attempts to clamp down on displays of aristocratic wealth and status, such as Solon’s legislation restricting funerary practices, and restrictions on victor statues at Olympia, which also tended to extol the athlete in the context of their family (Day 70). Considering these circumstances, the propagation of the idea of “kalokagathia” was a means not only of celebrating beautiful young men and women, but also of discreetly boosting their families alongside them.
Shapiro, H. A. The Cambridge Companion to Archaic Greece. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. (271)
Day, Joseph W. “Interactive Offerings: Early Greek Dedicatory Epigrams and Ritual,” Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, 96 (1994): 37-74.