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T. of Apollo, East Ped., Lion and Bull: detail of lion on bull

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T. of Apollo, East Ped., lion and deer: lion

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T. of Apollo, East Ped., Quadriga: right horse, frontal view

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T. of Apollo, East Ped., Lion and Bull: paw of lion

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T. of Apollo, East Ped., Quadriga: left horse, from left

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T. of Apollo, East Ped., lion and deer: frontal view of group

Collection: Delphi Archaeological Museum
Title: Temple of Apollo, East Pediment
Context: From Delphi
Findspot: Excavated at Delphi
Summary: Arrival of Apollo at Delphi
Sculptor: Suggested attribution to Antenor
Material: Marble
Sculpture Type: Architectural
Category: Statuary group
Placement: East pediment
Style: Late Archaic
Technique: In-the-round
Original or Copy: Original
Date: ca. 513 BC - ca. 500 BC
Dimensions: L. of pediment 19.35 m, H. at apex of pediment 2.30 m
Scale: Over life-size
Region: Phocis
Period: Late Archaic
In Group: Temple of Apollo sculpture

Subject Description:

The principal subject of the East Pediment of the later archaic Temple of Apollo (replacing the one which burned in ca. 548 BC) is the arrival of Apollo in Delphi. The chariot team of Apollo, with horses facing front (foreparts only), occupied the center of the pediment. On either side of the quadriga are a trio of figures, korai (maidens) on the left and kouroi (male figures) on the right. These also face front for the most part, the exception being the largest of the kouroi, who is shown in three-quarter view. (Only two of the korai and one kouros are substantially preserved. The other three figures, i.e. the smallest kore and the largest and smallest kouroi, are represented only by small fragments and therefore not included in the museum reconstruction, nor in photographs here. For these fragments, see FdDelph 4.3.) Still closer to the corners are animal groups in the tradition of early archaic pedimental sculpture, like the lion-and-bull groups from the Acropolis which have been attributed to the Hekatompedon temple in Athens. On the left are a lion and a bull; on the right a lion and a stag. The pieces which occupied the pedimental corners have not been identified.

The sculpture has been attributed to the pediment on the basis of material (Parian marble), technique (free-standing, though very rough in the back), scale and style. The East and West Pediments are easily distinguished, since the West Pediment figures are sculpted in poros and are technically in high relief. The reconstruction relies on the composition (especially of the lion groups) and restored height of the various figures for their placement within the pediment. Courby proved that the horses were grouped in a single, central quadriga facing front (FdDelph 4.3, 40). The French excavators have restored the korai and kouroi to the left and right, respectively, and Apollo alone in his chariot (GuideDelphMu 1991, fig. 16 caption).

The subject of the pediment appears to reflect the same Delphic tradition as the opening lines of Aeschylus' Eumenides (Aesch. Eum. 1-19), which may provide a clue to the identity of some of the figures. Aeschylus first describes the history of the oracular seat at Delphi, naming Ge, Themis and Phoebe as the prophets prior to Apollo (the three korai?). He then describes the arrival of Apollo from Delos via Athens, escorted by the children of Hephaistos, i.e. the Athenians, and greeted by the king and people of Delphi (the kouroi representing some combination of these?; see Stewart 1990, 88). This peaceful version of Apollo's arrival, one that includes the Athenians, stands in marked contrast to another version in which Apollo arrives and takes over amidst violence, usurping what had been the province of Ge. The choice of composition surely reflects the fact that the pediment was paid for by the Alkmeonidai of Athens, as we know from Herodotus (Hdt. 5.62). The lion groups do not appear to be directly related to this theme. They probably serve the same apotropaic function they once had as a central pedimental image. Thus the subject matter of the pediment is partly narrative, directly related to Apollo, and partly pure symbol.

Form & Style:

All discussions of the style of the East Pediment sculpture of the Temple of Apollo focus on the figures of the korai and kouroi, particularly the former. They have long been recognized as being closely related to a kore from Athens (Athens,Acropolis 681), known as Antenor's Kore from the base attributed to it which bears Antenor's name as sculptor (See Stewart Sculpture, (The kore cannot be proved to belong to the base, but the connection is generally accepted.) The korai share many characteristics including the same broad shoulders and a nearly identical treatment of the drapery, ranging from the pattern of ridges and spaces of the chiton, the arrangement of the himation and particularly the tubular shape of its folds (commonly described as organ pipes) to the method of undercutting used to achieve this effect. The heads of the Delphi korai are not preserved, but the head of the Nike acroterion belonging to the temple has survived (Delphi, Temple of Apollo, Nike) and is likewise related to Antenor's kore, in the shape of the face and features and in the treatment of the hair. The eyes of Antenor's kore were inlaid, a somewhat unusual feature, as were those of the horses on the pediment. The differences which do exist may be attributed to the architectural function of the Delphi sculpture and to the difference in the date of their execution (Antenor's kore is probably earlier). On the basis of the similarities the East Pediment, and often the entire sculptural program of the Temple of Apollo, is assigned to Antenor. The son of Eumenes, a painter, he is otherwise known from work in Athens, which accords with Herodotus' statement that the rebuilding of the temple was undertaken by the Alkmeonids, an Athenian clan. For the chronological problems, including the attribution to Antenor, see the section on the Date.

More generally speaking, the design of the pediment represents a stylistic bridge between archaic and late archaic or early classical composition. Both the inclusion of the animal groups and the strict frontality of the figures link it with earlier pediments and distinguish it from pediments of the early 5th century, including comparable"quiet" compositions like that of the East Pediment of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia.

Date Description:

The date of the Temple of Apollo is given by Herodotus (Hdt. 5.62-63), who relates how the Alkmeonidai, an Athenian clan out of power at the time, contracted to build the temple at Delphi. The agreement followed an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the Athenian tyrant Hippias, which in turn followed the assassination of Hippias' brother Hipparchos in 514 BC. Work presumably began shortly thereafter, since Herodotus goes on to explain how the Alkmeonidai bribed the Pythian priestess to enlist Spartan support in the overthrow of Hippias. Apparently it was the intention of the Alkmeonidai to curry favor with the oracle. Herodotus also relates that they built the East facade in marble although the contract called only for poros limestone; whether this was done before or after Hippias was expelled in 510 BC, i.e. in hope of or in gratitude for the victory, is unclear. A fragment of Philochoros may provide the answer (Philoch., FGH 328 F 115, a scholion to Pind. P. 7.9b; see Stewart Sculpture, T34). It confirms Herodotus' information that the Alkmeonidai built the temple, but says that they initially used the funds to defeat Hippias, building the temple only after their victory but with greater gratitude (met' eu)xaristhri/wn pleio/nwn), i.e. the marble of the East facade.

In any case, both authors date the temple, certainly the sculpture of the pediments (perhaps the last part of the temple to be completed), to the years around 510 BC. This date has sometimes been contested because of the stylistic similarity between the pedimental korai and Antenor's kore (Athens,Acropolis 681), which for a long time was dated about 530 BC. It is also known that the Egyptian king Amasis gave money for the temple before his death in 526 BC (Hdt. 2.180). However, various discoveries, among them the disassociation of the Anonymous Caryatid from the Knidian Treasury, have led to a lowering of the chronology, which places Antenor's Kore around 520 BC. (It has been suggested that the dedicator Nearchos was a grandson of the famous potter Nearchos, since his known works date before the middle of the century.) This decreases the gap in time between the two commissions so that the similarity in style makes more sense. Since Antenor's other famous commission was the group of the Tyrannicides, those men responsible for Hipparchos's death, his alliance with the Alkmeonidai and connection with the temple at Delphi is all the more likely.

Condition: Fragmentary

Condition Description: Substantial fragments include parts of three horses from the quadriga, two of the three korai, one of the three kouroi, the head of the lion and torso of the bull from the left corner, and a large part of the lion and deer group from the right corner. Surface is heavily weathered.

Material Description: Parian marble

Technique Description: Although the sculptures are free-standing, the surface is very rough on the back.

Associated Building: Delphi, Temple of Apollo

Collection History: Excavated by the French, principally in the years 1894-1895.

Sources Used: GuideDelphMu 1991, 54ff.; Stewart 1990, 60, 86ff., 249f.; Boardman 1978a, fig. 203; Ridgway 1977, 205ff.; Robertson 1975, 161ff.; SchefoldFest 1967, 105ff. (Dörig); Agora XI, 7ff.; FdDelph 4.3, 33ff.