Athena, daughter of Zeus, storms to the right. She turns back to grab the hair of her opponent Alkyoneus and wrest him from the earth, his source of protection and strength. At the same time, a snake sent by the goddess delivers a lethal bite to the Giant’s chest. The earth mother Ge throws herself at Athena’s feet, pleading in vain for her son’s life. The goddess of victory floats in from the right to crown Athena […]. Behind her, the two horses drawing the chariot of the war god, Ares, rear before a falling winged Giant. Thus ends the northern extent of the east frieze – although the action is thematically linked to the adjoining north frieze by the figure of Aphrodite, herself an Olympian as well as a counterpart to Ares.
The composition of the scene of Zeus and Athena recalls the west pediment of the Parthenon, where Poseidon and Athena are shown competing for the patronage of Attika. The two figures lunge apart, visually linked by their symmetrical poses and flanked by chariots, appearing in the frieze as a purposeful citation of the exemplary Classical art of Athens.