RUINS

Seer from the East pediment in the temple of zeus

Portrait detail of Seer from the East Pediment
Many years ago in Olympia, an oracle tells King Oinomaos that he will be killed by his son in law. In order to avoid this fate, he makes it his mission to kill each of his daughter's suitors. The king challenges these men to chariot races, but none of them ever reach the finish line. The young suitor Peplos is next in line for one of these races, but suspecting the king's plan, he devises his own. He asks for help from his former lover, Poseidon god of the sea (this is a true story), and Poseidon gifts him with a chariot. But, then he cheats by replacing the rods in the king's chariot with beeswax, resulting in his death during the race. Peplos goes onto murder the only witness, who in turn curses his entire family. The East Pediment of the Temple of Zeus depicts what happens before the race begins. This figure, the Seer, gazes at the horses and gasps. It is implied that he can see into the future, and knows what tragedy will be wrought by this seemingly innocuous chariot race.
Photo credit / Alison Frantz ASCSA