|Collection:||Olympia Archaeological Museum|
|Title:||Olympia, East Pediment Overview|
|Findspot:||Excavated at Olympia|
|Summary:||Race between Pelops and Oinomaos|
|Original or Copy:||Original|
|Date:||ca. 470 BC - ca. 457 BC|
W of pediment 26.0 m; H of pediment at center 3.30 m; H of central figure 3.15 m
Pausanias eases the identification of the figures by naming all the principal ones and some of the others. Nonetheless there is much controversy regarding the restoration of the pediment. More than sixty arrangements have been proposed. Part of the problem rests with the language of Pausanias. When he speaks of Oenomaos "on the right" of Zeus, it is unclear whether he means the god's right or the viewer's right. While it is clear that the older of the two figures (I) must be Oenomaus and the younger (G) Pelops, it is not certain on which half of the pediment each belongs. Historically there has also been a controversy with respect to the identity of the two central female figures, i.e. which one is Sterope and which one Hippodameia. Many scholars now agree that Figure K's dress and gesture of adjusting the cloth on her shoulder allude to a bride and should therefore identify her as Hippodameia. On the other hand Figure F's hair and contemplative, perhaps anxious pose suggest the older woman Sterope. Yet a third controversy concerns the position of the women relative to the men.
Pausanias identified many of the other figures as well, although it is not certain that his identifications are correct (he visited six and a half centuries after the temple was built). He called the two kneeling figures in front of the horses (B and O) charioteers, though he did not recognize that Figure O is a girl. He named the two figures following the chariot teams as attendants (L,C,N,E), though most scholars believe that Figure N is a seer. The boy (E) has often been identified as Arkas, the eponymous hero of Arcadia. The corner figures (A and P) are usually identified as local river gods, following Pausanias, though they have also been called spectators of the race, perhaps along with the other outermost figures.
The dates 470 to 457 BC are based on the information of Pausanias that the temple was built from the spoils of the Eleans victory over the Pisans, in which they took control of the sanctuary at Olympia. The most likely date of the battle is ca. 470 BC. A terminus ante quem is given by the additional information that the Spartans dedicated a golden shield, which they hung at the apex of the eastern gable, following the victory at Tanagra of ca. 457 BC. In order that the shield hang from the roof, the building must have been complete or nearly so, presumably including its sculptural decoration.
Thirteen figures and two chariot groups of four horses each, broken into many fragments; heavily weathered and preserved to varying degrees.
Associated Building: Olympia, Temple of Zeus
Excavated by the Germans from 1875.