Tour Guide

Kouroi and Korai, an introduction

Archaic ideals
From 600 to 480 B.C.E., ancient Greek cemeteries and sanctuaries were filled with marble statues of beautiful young men and women. The images of nude young men are today called kouroi (singular: kouros), the ancient Greek word for boy, though we do not know if they were called kouroi in antiquity. Their female counterparts, korai (singular: kore), wear richly painted robes and accessories made of expensive metals. Kouroi and korai are highly idealized images. Rather than showing people as they actually looked, they are representations of youthful perfection as envisioned by the Greek aristocrats who commissioned them in the Archaic period. These elite individuals conflated bodily beauty with moral excellence, so from their viewpoint, the idealized statues of young men and women that they commissioned displayed both inner and outer greatness. Kouroi and korai broadcasted the wealth and ideals of their patrons, revealing much about Archaic society.

For more information: