Vanni Archive/CORBIS

Zeus (the headless central figure) oversees preparations for a chariot race between the hero Pelops (to the left of Zeus) and King Oenomaus (to the right of Zeus), who ruled the area around Olympia. Now in Olympia’s museum, these statues originally adorned the east pediment of the fifth-century B.C. Temple of Zeus at Olympia.

In Greek myth, Oenomaus promises his daughter, Hippodameia (left of Pelops), to any man who can beat him in a chariot race. Pelops bribes Oenomaus’s charioteer, Myrtilus (shown kneeling next to Oenomaus’s wife, who stands to the right of her husband), to loosen the linchpins of his master’s chariot. After Pelops wins the race, he celebrates by establishing the religious/athletic festival at Olympia. In honor of Pelops, the region of Greece where Olympia is located is called the Peloponnesus (“Pelops Island”).