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Temple of Zeus at Olympia, west pediment

Sculpture from the gable-end of the temple. The temple of Zeus was the largest temple in the sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia, where the Olympic Games were held. The sculptures in the pediments show racing and wrestling, but in mythological contexts. Here the subject is a battle between Lapiths and Centaurs, mythical tribes of northern Greece, which took place at a wedding feast. The Centaurs, half horse half man, had been invited to the wedding but drank too much wine and attempted to abduct the Lapith women. In the fight which followed, Apollo stands calmly at the centre while Peirithoös, the Lapith king and bridegroom, leads the attack on the Centaurs. Lapith women watch anxiously from the corners of the pediment. The sculptures contrast with the much more peaceful scene shown in the pediment on the other end of the temple

Location of Original: 

Olympia Museum

24.8m long

Head of Apollo and head of Lapith purchased 28 March 1878; head of old woman and Lapith grasped by centaur, another Lapith woman and centaur, reclining nymph purchased 17 April 1878. These transferred from the Fitzwilliam Museum in 1884. Figure of Apollo and a head of a Lapith woman purchased in 1884. All from the casting establishment of the Berlin Museum


Lippold: Griechische Plastik, 120, (n.3-12), pls. 39, 4; 44, 1-2; 45, 2-4; 46, 1
Richter: Sculpture & Sculptors of the Greeks (1950), 123-124, figs.2, 115-116; 390-391; 392-393
Becatti, G: Il Maestro d’Olympia, 39-, pls. III-
Pfeiff: Apollon (1943), pls. 24-26
Kourouniotis: (?), 24-
Treu: Die Bildwerke von Olympia III (1897), 44-
Walston: Catalogue of Casts in the Museum of Classical Archaeology (1889), 36-, nos.127-143I
Ashmole & Yalouris: Olympia, the Sculptures of the Temple of Zeus, 17

Temple constructed 470-456 BCE

Found on site of Temple of Zeus, Olympia

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