|Collection:||Delphi Archaeological Museum|
|Title:||Temple of Apollo, West Pediment|
|Findspot:||Excavated at Delphi (in 1894 and 1895 around the monuments of the Sacred Way)|
|Sculptor:||Suggested attribution to Antenor|
|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|
|In Group:||Temple of Apollo sculpture|
According to Euripides'
Ion ( Ion, describing what they see in the pediment, mention Herakles, Iolaos, a figure on a winged horse, Athena, Enkelados (her opponent), Zeus, Mimas (his foe), Dionysos and several monsters. The full reconstruction of the pediment offered by the French excavators is, as they say, only hypothetical. The attribution of the figures is secure, since they are easily distinguished from the East Pediment sculpture by their material: poros covered with stucco and paint, rather than the marble of the East Pediment.
The figure of a fighting female, moving left, wears a chiton (much of the painted decoration of the dress is still visible) and short himation. At the top of the fragment a mass of stone which appears to protrude beyond the folds of the himation is usually identified as an aegis, and thus the figure as Athena. No part of its surface remains, but the mass suggests that it covered both shoulders and extended behind her. Drilled holes have been interpreted as points of attachment for the snakes. The second substantially preserved figure must be that of a giant. His torso is represented in three-quarter view while the extended right leg is in profile. He knelt on his left knee, in pose much like the giant from the roughly contemporary Peisistratid Temple in Athens (see
The reconstruction places these figures with some certainty. It is clear that the giant belongs near the left corner. Athena's height puts her about midway back on the left side. The figure with the skin is probably close behind her. Since the carving of his right side shows that he was placed against another figure or object, he is restored as one of a pair. The horses are restored as a frontal quadriga, like that on the East Pediment. Presumably the chariot belonged to Zeus. Beyond this, the composition can only be surmised.
Despite the technical difference in the execution of the two pediments and the fact that only the marble pediment is specifically attributed to the Alkmeonidai by Herodotus, most scholars agree that both pediments should be attributed to the same designer and workshop. The inclusion of the frontal quadriga in the center of the composition, the design similarities between Athena and the Nike akroterion, similar technical features in the treatment of the drapery and the carving of the figures to create the impression of free-standing sculpture support the impression of a unified program of sculptural decoration for the entire temple.
Form & Style: On first impression, the greater use of profile views and action poses appears to distinguish the sculpture of the West Pediment from that of the East Pediment. However, examination of individual figures reveals many points of similarity. As has often been noted the figure of Athena is most like the Nike akroterion, but specific details of her drapery — the wide paryphe, the broad spaces and sharp ridges of the chiton where it is stretched over the legs, the tubular folds of the himation — all find parallels in the East Pediment as well. The same treatment of the drapery characterizes the striding male figure. The recumbent giant finds no parallel on the East Pediment, but the torsion of the figure represents a development not seen in slightly earlier sculpture, e.g. on the North Frieze of the Siphnian Treasury, and so appears in keeping with the date proposed for the East Pediment by Antenor. This suggests that the sculpture of both pediments as well as the akroterial sculpture should be assigned to one workshop, under the direction of Antenor, and that it can all be dated to the same period, in the years around 510
Condition Description: The figure of the giant from the left corner, the torso of Athena, the lower torso of a male figure with animal skin, and fragments of two horses are the only substantial fragments preserved. The surface is heavily weathered. On the figure of Athena, some of the painted design on the drapery is preserved.
Material Description: Poros
Technique Description: Technically high relief, since the figure, the tenon which held it to the back wall, the wall block itself and a heavy plinth appear to have been carved from a single piece of stone (
Associated Building: Delphi, Temple of Apollo