Tripods are very particular objects for the cult of Apollo. According to the myth, Hercules went to the oracle of Delphi in order to ask what to do in order to be expiated from the murder of Iphitos. The oracle did not want to give him an omen. Then, the hero was enraged and he grabbed the tripod on which the Pythia sat in order to pronounce her oracles. Apollo tried to prevent him and this resulted in a fight between the god and the hero. Finally, Zeus had to intervene in order to end this quarrel. This tradition, however, inspired the iconographers, whereas the tripod emerged as a fundamental cultic object. In the Geometric period, the tripods were fastened to the cauldrons they supported. In the Museum of Delphi there are fragments of such tripods, most distinctive of which is the one with a ring-shaped handle.
In Homer’s poetry there are frequent mentions of these objects. They appear to be precious gifts for the guests, as in the case of the Phaeakes, who offered a cauldron and tripod to Odysseus.
Our guest has already packed up the clothes, wrought gold, and other valuables which you have brought for his acceptance;
let us now, therefore, present him further, each one of us, with a large tripod and a cauldron. We will recoup ourselves by the levy of a general rate; for private individuals cannot be expected to bear the burden of such a handsome present.
Odyssey, 13.10-15 [tr. S. Butler]
At the end of the Geometric period an innovation is introduced: the tripds are detached from the large bronze cauldron, which is now placed on them. In the Museum there is a distinctive specimen: on a fine, bronze tripod standing on cast legs, lied a large globular cauldron. On its lip there are developed heads of griffins and lions, as well as winged female figures, possibly sirens. These creatures originate from the Middle East, whereas the technique of casting followed by hammering also alludes to oriental workshops.