The centre of the Delphic cult and the provision of oracular utterances was the temple of Apollo. When an early temple was destroyed by fire in the 6th century BC, the Alcmaeonidae, a noble Athenian family, undertook the construction of the new temple and chose to depict themes that gave prominence to the city of Athens. Hence, the east pediment depicts the arrival of Apollo in Delphi from Athens and the west pediment illustrates a scene from the Gigantomachy, the fight of the Olympian gods against the Giants. On the temple’s roof stood marble winged Nikai as acroteria.
This temple collapsed due to a rockfall following a major earthquake in 373 BC. For the pediments of the new temple different themes were selected: the east pediment is occupied by Apollo portrayed as master of the oracle sitting on a tripod, holding laurel branch and phiale, flanked by Leto, Artemis and the Muses. On the west pediment, the god Dionysus is pictured surrounded by Maenads.