The pedimental relief comes from Temple A at Pyrgi, which many scholars believe was consecrated to the goddess Leucothea, the “white goddess,” whom the Romans associated with Mater Matuta, a goddess closely connected to rites of passage and transition, such as birth and the rising of the sun.
In 1996, the relief was the subject of an impressive restoration campaign, which despite the fragmentary state of the piece, resulted in a full reconstruction and comprehensive interpretation of the mythic iconography.
Simultaneous with the pediment’s construction was the staging of the same myth in Athens by Aeschylus in his Seven Against Thebes. Certain variations in the myth observable on the pediment, however, allow us to connect it more closely with the work of a Greek poet of the previous century, Stesichorus, who was active in Sicily. This demonstrates the profound literary knowledge of the Etruscans, who were able not only to interpret, but also refashion for their own artistic and ideological aims the mythic imagination of the Greeks.