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Pindar, Roman copy of Greek 5th century BC bust (Museo Archeologica Nazionale, Naples)

Pindar (Greek: Πίνδαρος, Pindaros; Latin: Pindarus) (ca. 522–443 BC), was an Ancient Greek lyric poet. Of the canonical nine lyric poets of ancient Greece, Pindar is the one whose work is best preserved. Quintilian described him as "by far the greatest of the nine lyric poets, in virtue of his inspired magnificence, the beauty of his thoughts and figures, the rich exuberance of his language and matter, and his rolling flood of eloquence".[1]


However, not all the ancients shared Quintilian's enthusiasm. The Athenian comic playwright Eupolis is said to have remarked that the poems of Pindar "are already reduced to silence by the disinclination of the multitude for elegant learning".[2]

Pindar's 'elegant learning' has often discouraged modern interest as well, even in spite of an 1896 discovery of some poems by his rival Bacchylides, which allowed for new insights - some peculiarities of composition, evident in Pindar's Victory Odes, were found by comparison to be typical of the genre rather than of the man.[3] From then on, the brilliance of Pindar's poetry began to be more widely appreciated by modern scholars and yet there are still idiosyncrasies in his style that challenge the casual reader and he continues to be a largely unread, even if much admired poet.[4]

Pindar is the first Greek poet whose works reflect extensively on the nature of poetry and on the poet's role.[5] Like other poets of the Archaic Age, he reveals a deep sense of the vicissitudes of life and yet, unlike them, he also articulates a passionate faith in what men can achieve by the grace of the gods, most famously expressed in his conclusion to one of his Victory Odes:[6]

Creatures of a day! What is a man?
What is he not? A dream of a shadow
Is our mortal being. But when there comes to men
A gleam of splendour given of heaven,
Then rests on them a light of glory
And blessed are their days. (Pythian 8)[7][8]



Apart from the poems themselves, almost all the evidence for the facts of Pindar's life come from four biographical sources, fully compiled at least some 1400 years after his death:

Although these four sources are based on a much older literary tradition, going as far back as Chamaeleon of Heraclea in the 4th century BC, they are widely viewed with scepticism by modern scholars.[9][10] Much of his poetry on the other hand was composed about well-known, datable events and modern biographies are mostly derived from information contained in it. The biography here is based on that sort of approach.[11][12] His poetry also included mythical accounts of the past, often set out in reverse chronological order. The biography here is also set out in reverse chronological order, as an example of Pindar's unusual literary methods.

Post mortem

Pindar had lived in an era when poets were considered to have an almost priestly function, as interpreters of men's place in the world. Every night after his death, the priest of Apollo at Delphi used to intone as he closed the temple doors: Let Pindar the poet go unto the supper of the gods. Pindar had been elected to the priesthood there and the iron chair, on which he had always sat during the festival of the Theoxenia, long remained one of the temple's prized exhibits. One of his odes, composed in honour of the athlete Diagoras of Rhodes, was said to have been copied in letters of gold on a temple wall in Lindos. His house in Thebes became a landmark. Alexander the Great, when demolishing the rest of the city, left the house spectacularly intact in gratitude for some verses praising his ancestor, king Alexander I of Macedon.[13]

Death and old age

Pindar lived to about eighty years of age and died sometime around 440 BC while attending a festival at Argos. His musically-gifted daughters, Eumetis and Protomache, are said to have taken his ashes back home to Thebes. Nothing is recorded about his wife and son except their names, Megacleia and Daiphantus. The family home was located near a shrine to Alcman, the oracular son of the hero, Amphiaraus. Pindar apparently stored some of his personal wealth there and he says in one of his last odes (Pythian 8) that he had recently received a prophecy from Alcman while on a journey to Delphi - though he doesn't say what the prophecy was.

Poetry and politics

Fame as a poet involved Pindar in the murky world of Greek politics where rivalries between city states often led to conflicting loyalties. Athens, for example, was the dominant force in Greece throughout his poetic career and it also happened to be a long-term rival to his own home city, Thebes, and to the the island state of Aegina, whose leading citizens commissioned about a quarter of Pindar's Victory Odes. In one of his last odes (Pythian 8), commissioned by Aeginetan patrons, he refers to the downfall of the giants Porphyrion and Typhon and this is thought to be a subtle celebration of a recent defeat of Athens by Thebes at the Battle of Coronea in 447 BC.[14] The same ode ends with a prayer for Aegina's freedom, long threatened by Athenian ambitions, yet there is no open condemnation of the Athenians in any of Pindar's poems. His praise of Athens with such epithets as bullwark of Hellas (fragment 76) and city of noble name and sunlit splendour (Nemean 5), is said to have induced his annoyed countrymen to fine him 5000 drachmae, to which the Athenians are said to have responded with a gift of 10000 drachmae.

Pindar appears to have used his odes to advance his personal interests and those of his friends.[15] In 462 BC he composed two odes in honour of Arcesilas, king of Cyrene, (Pythians 4 and 5), pleading for the return from exile of a friend, Demophilus. In the latter ode Pindar proudly mentions his own ancestry, which he shared with the king, as an Aegeid or descendent of Aegeus, the legendary king of Athens. The clan was influential in many parts of the Greek world, having intermarried with ruling families in Thebes, in Lacedaemonia and in cities that claimed Lacedaemonian descent, such as Cyrene and Thera. The historian Herodotus considered the clan important enough to deserve mention (Histories IV.147). Membership in the clan contributed to Pindar's success as the poet of an international elite and it informed his political views, marked by a conservative preference for oligarchic governments of the Doric kind.

Sometimes his poems were written to sooth the feelings of patrons he had unwittingly upset in earlier poems. He was possibly the Theban proxenos or consul for Aegina and/or Molossia, as indicated in another of his odes, Nemean 7,[16] in which he glorified Neoptolemus, one of the national heroes of both Aegina and Molossia. This was probably an attempt to sooth ill feelings over his portrayal of Neoptolemus in an earlier poem, Paean 6, which had been commissioned by the priests at Delphi and which had depicted the hero's disgraceful death in a fight with their predecessors over sacrificial meat. The feelings of the poet's fellow Thebans, who had a troubled history throughout much of his career, were in particular need of soothing. For example, in his first Pythian ode, composed in 470 BC in honour of the Sicilian tyrant Hieron, Pindar celebrated a series of stunning victories by Greeks against invaders: Athenian and Spartan-led victories against Persia in the Battle of Salamis and Battle of Plataea, and victories by the western Greeks led by Theron of Acragas and Hieron of Syracuse against the Carthaginians at the Battle of Himera and against the Etruscans in the Battle of Cumae. The Thebans however had sided with the Persians, they had incurred many losses and privations as a result of their defeat and they seem to have resented his friendship with the fabulously rich Hieron. It was probably in response to Theban sensitivities that Pindar denounced the rule of tyrants (i.e. rulers like Hieron) in a previous ode (Pythian 11), composed shortly after his return from a visit to the court of Hieron in 476-75 BC.[17]

Lyric verse was conventionally accompanied by music and dance and Pindar himself wrote the music and choreographed the dances for his victory odes. Sometimes he trained the performers at his home in Thebes and sometimes he trained them at the venue where they performed. Commissions took him to all parts of the Greek world - to the Panhellenic festivals in mainland Greece (Olympia, Delphi, Corinth and Nemea), westwards to Sicily, eastwards to the seaboard of Asia Minor, north to Macedonia and Abdera (Paean 2) and south to Cyrene on the African coast. Other poets attended the same venues and vied with him for the favours of patrons. His poetry sometimes reflects this rivalry. Thus for example Olympian 2 and Pythian 2, composed in honour of the Sicilian tyrants Theron and Hieron following his visit to their courts in 476-75 BC, refer respectively to ravens and an ape, apparently signifying rivals engaged in a campaign of smears against him - possibly even the celebrated poets Simonides and his nephew Bacchylides.[18] Pindar's original treatment of narrative myth, often relating events in reverse chronological order, is said to have been a favourite target for criticism by his rivals.[19]

Birth and formative years

The early years of Pindar's career coincided with the Persian invasions of Greece in the reigns of Darius and Xerxes. During the invasion in 480/79 BC, Thebes was occupied by Xerxes' general, Mardonius, with whom many Theban aristocrats subsequently perished at the Battle of Plataea. It is possible that Pindar spent much of this time at Aegina. The earlier invasion in 490 BC did not prevent him attending the Pythian Games for that year, where he first met the Sicilian prince, Thrasybulus, nephew of Theron of Acragas. Thrasybulus had driven the winning chariot and he and Pindar were to form a lasting friendship, paving the way for his subsequent visit to Sicily.

Pindar was about twenty years old in 498 BC when he was commissioned by the ruling family in Thessaly to compose his first victory ode (Pythian 10). He studied the art of lyric poetry in Athens and he is said to have received some helpful criticism from Corinna. It is reported moreover that he was stung on the mouth by a bee in his youth and this was the reason he became a poet of honey-like verses (an identical fate has been ascribed to other poets of the archaic period). He was probably born in 522 BC or 518 BC (the 65th Olympiad) in Cynoscephalae, a village in Boeotia, not far from Thebes. His father's name is variously given as Daiphantus, Pagondas or Scopelinus and his mother's name was Cleodice.[9]


Pindar impressed his original and strongly individual genius on every lyric form in which he composed but he was not an innovative poet - unlike Simonides and Stesichorus for example, he created no new lyrical forms.[20] He probably spoke Boeotian Greek but he composed in a literary language fairly typical of archaic Greek poetry, relying on Doric dialect more consistently than his rival Bacchylides, for example, but less insistently than Alcman. There is an admixture of other dialects, especially Aeolic and epic forms, and there is an occasional use of some Boeotian words.[21] He composed choral songs of several types which, according to a Late Antique biographer, were subsequently grouped into seventeen books by scholars at the Library of Alexandria. They were, by genre:[22]

Of this vast and varied corpus, only the epinikia — odes written to commemorate athletic victories — survive in complete form; the rest survive only by quotations in other ancient authors or from papyrus scraps unearthed in Egypt. Even in fragmentary form, however, the various genres reveal the same complexity of thought and language that are found in the victory odes.[23]


Victory odes

Pindar's victory odes are grouped into four books named after the Olympian, Pythian, Isthmian, and Nemean Games - Panhellenic festivals held respectively at Olympia, Delphi, Corinth and Nemea. This reflects the fact that most of the odes were composed in honour of boys, youths and men who had recently enjoyed victories in athletic (and sometimes musical) contests at those festivals. In a few odes, however, much older victories and even victories in lesser games are sometimes celebrated, often being used as a pretext for addressing other issues or achievements. For example, Pythian 3, composed in honour of Hieron of Syracuse, briefly mentions an old victory he had once enjoyed at the Pythian Games, but it is actually intended to console him for his chronic illness. Nemean 9 and Nemean 10 celebrate victories in games at Sicyon and Argos, and Nemean 11 celebrates a victory in a municipal election on Tenedos (though it includes mention of some obscure athletic victories). These three odes are the final odes in the Nemean book of odes and there is a reason for their inclusion there. In the original manuscripts, the four books of odes were arranged in the order of importance assigned to the festivals, with the Nemean festival, considered least important, coming last. Any victory odes that lacked the aura of a Panhellenic subject were then bundled together at the end of the book of Nemean odes.[24]


Pindar's odes typically begin with an invocation to a god or the Muses, followed by praise of the victor and often of his family, ancestors and home-town. Then follows a narrated myth, usually occupying the central and longest section of the poem, exemplify a moral while also aligning the world of the poet and his audience with the world of gods and heroes.[25] The ode usually ends in more eulogies, as for example of trainers (if the victor is a boy), and of relatives who have won past events, as well as with prayers or expressions of hope for future success.[24] The event where the victory was gained is never described in detail but there is often some brief mention of the hard work needed to bring the victory about.

A lot of modern criticism is concerned with finding hidden structure or some unifying principle within the odes. 19th century criticism favoured 'gnomic unity' i.e. each ode is bound together by the kind of moralizing or philosophic vision typical of archaic Gnomic poetry. Later critics sought for unity in the way certain words or images are repeated and developed within any particular ode. For others, the odes really are just celebrations of men and their communities, in which the elements such as myths, piety and ethics are stock themes that the poet introduces without much real thought. Some have concluded that the requirement for unity is too modern to have informed Pindar's ancient approach to a traditional craft.[21]

The great majority of the odes are triadic in structure - i.e. stanzas are grouped together in threes as a lyrical unit. Each triad comprises two stanzas identical in length and meter (called 'strophe' and 'antistrophe') and a third stanza (called an 'epode'), differing in length and meter but rounding off the lyrical movement in some way. The shortest odes comprise a single triad, the largest (Pythian 4) comprises thirteen triads. Seven of the odes however are monostrophic (i.e. each stanza in the ode is identical in length and meter). The monostrophic odes seem to have been composed for victory marches or processions, whereas the triadic odes appear suited to choral dances.[24] Pindar's metrical rhythms are nothing like the simple, repetitive rhythms familiar to readers of English verse - typically the rhythm of any given line recurs infrequently (for example, only once every ten, fifteen or twenty lines). This adds to the aura of complexity that surrounds Pindar's work. In terms of meter, the odes fall roughly into two categories - about half are in dactylo-epitrites (a meter found for example in the works of Stesichorus, Simonides and Bacchylides) and the other half are in 'Aeolic' metres based on iambs and choriambs.[21]


As mentioned in the introduction, Pindar's poetic style is unique and highly individualised even when the peculiarities of the genre are set aside. Sentences are compressed to the point of obscurity, unusual words and periphrases give the language an esoteric quality, transitions in meaning often seem erratic, and images seem to burst out - it's a style that baffles reason and which makes his poetry vivid and unforgettable.[26]

Pindar's power does not lie in the pedigrees of ... athletes, ... or the misbehavior of minor deities. It lies in a splendour of phrase and imagery that suggests the gold and purple of a sunset sky. - F.L. Lucas[27]

He has that force of imagination which can bring clear-cut and dramatic figures of gods and heroes into vivid relief...he has that peculiar and inimitable splendour of style which, though sometimes aided by magnificent novelties of diction, is not dependent on them, but can work magical effects with simple words; he has also, at frequent moments, a marvellous swiftness, alike in the succession of images, and in the transitions from thought to thought; and his tone is that of a prophet who can speak with a voice as of Delphi. - Richard Claverhouse Jebb[28]

Such qualities can be found, for example, in this stanza from Pythian 2, composed in honour of Hieron, here translated by G.S.Conway:

God achieves all his purpose and fulfills
His every hope, god who can overtake
The winged eagle, or upon the sea
Outstrip the dolphin; and he bends
The arrogant heart
Of many a man, but gives to others
Eternal glory that will never fade.
Now for me is it needful that I shun
The fierce and biting tooth
Of slanderous words. For from old have I seen
Sharp-tongued Archilochus in want and struggling,
Grown fat on the harsh words
Of hate. The best that fate can bring
Is wealth joined with the happy gift of wisdom.[29][30]

The stanza begins with a universalizing movement, taking in the sky, sea, god and the human struggle for justice, then abruptly shifts to a highly individual, even eccentric condemnation of a renowned poet, Archilochus with curious phrasing such as Grown fat on the harsh words of hate. Archilochus took a sardonic and often humorous view of his own and other people's faults. Pindar, in contrast, is intensely earnest, preaching to high achievers like Hieron the need for moderation (wealth with wisdom) and submission to the divine will. The intensity of the stanza suggests that it is the culmination and climax of the poem. In fact, the stanza occupies the middle of Pythian 2 and the intensity is sustained throughout the poem from beginning to end. It is the sustained intensity of his poetry that Quintilian refers to above as a rolling flood of eloquence and Horace below refers to as the uncontrollable momentum of a river that has burst its banks.

Chronological order

Modern editors (e.g. Snell and Maehler in their Teubner edition), have assigned dates, securely or tentatively, to Pindar's victory odes, based on ancient sources and other grounds (doubt is indicated by a question mark). The result is a fairly clear chronological outline of Pindar's career as an epinician poet:

Estimated chronological order
Date BC Ode Victor Event Focusing Myth
498 Pythian 10 Hippocles of Thessaly Boy's Long Foot-Race Perseus, Hyperboreans
490 Pythian 6 Xenocrates of Acragas Chariot-Race Antilochus, Nestor
490 Pythian 12 Midas of Acragas Flute-Playing Perseus, Medusa
488 (?) Olympian 14 Asopichus of Orchomenos Boys' Foot-Race None
486 Pythian 7 Megacles of Athens Chariot-Race None
485 (?) Nemean 2 Timodemus of Acharnae Pancration None
485 (?) Nemean 7 Sogenes of Aegina Boys' Pentathlon Neoptolemus
483 (?) Nemean 5 Pythias of Aegina Youth's Pancration Peleus, Hippolyta, Thetis
480 Isthmian 6 Phylacides of Aegina Pancration Heracles, Telamon
478 (?) Isthmian 5 Phylacides of Aegina Pancration Aeacids, Achilles
478 Isthmian 8 Cleandrus of Aegina Pancration Zeus, Poseidon, Thetis
476 Olympian 1 Hieron of Syracuse Horse-Race Pelops
476 Olympians 2 & 3 Theron of Acragas Chariot-Race 2.Isles of the Blessed 3.Heracles, Hyperboreans
476 Olympian 11 Agesidamus of Epizephyrian Locris Boys' Boxing Match Heracles, founding of Olympian Games
476 (?) Nemean 1 Chromius of Aetna Chariot-Race Infant Heracles
475 (?) Pythian 2 Hieron of Syracuse Chariot-Race Ixion
475 (?) Nemean 3 Aristocleides of Aegina Pancration Aeacides, Achilles
474 (?) Olympian 10 Agesidamus of Epizephyrian Locris Boys' Boxing Match None
474 (?) Pythian 3 Hieron of Syracuse Horse-Race Asclepius
474 Pythian 9 Telesicrates of Cyrene Foot-Race in Armour Apollo, Cyrene
474 Pythian 11 Thrasydaeus of Thebes Boys' Short Foot-Race Orestes, Clytemnestra
474 (?) Nemean 9 Chromius of Aetna Chariot-Race Seven Against Thebes
474/3 (?) Isthmian 3 & 4 Melissus of Thebes Chariot Race & Pancration 3.None 4.Heracles, Antaeus
473 (?) Nemean 4 Timisarchus of Aegina Boys' Wrestling Match Aeacids, Peleus, Thetis
470 Pythian 1 Hieron of Aetna Chariot-Race Typhon
470 (?) Isthmian 2 Xenocrates of Acragas Chariot-Race None
468 Olympian 6 Agesias of Syracuse Chariot-Race with Mules Iamus
466 Olympian 9 Epharmus of Opous Wrestling-Match Deucalion, Pyrrha
466 Olympian 12 Ergoteles of Himera Long Foot-Race Fortune
465 (?) Nemean Ode 6 Alcimidas of Aegina Boys' Wrestling Match Aeacides, Achilles, Memnon
464 Olympian 7 Diagoras of Rhodes Boxing-Match Tlepolemus
464 Olympian 13 Xenophon of Corinth Short Foot-Race & Pentathlon Bellerephon, Pegasus
462/1 Pythian 4 & 5 Arcesilas of Cyrene Chariot-Race 4.Argonauts 5.Battus
460 Olympian 8 Alcimidas of Aegina Boys' Wrestling-Match Aeacus, Troy
459 (?) Nemean 8 Deinis of Aegina Foot-Race Ajax
458 (?) Isthmian 1 Herodotus of Thebes Chariot-Race Castor, Iolaus
460 or 456 (?) Olympian 4 & 5 Psaumis of Camarina Chariot-Race with Mules 4.Erginus 5.None
454 (?) Isthmian 7 Strepsiades of Thebes Pancration None
446 Pythian 8 Aristomenes of Aegina Wrestling-Match Amphiaraus
446 (?) Nemean 11 Aristagoras of Tenedos Inauguration as Prytanis None
444 (?) Nemean 10 Theaius of Argos Wrestling-Match Castor, Pollux

Horace's tribute

The great Latin poet, Quintus Horatius Flaccus, was an eloquent admirer of Pindar's style. He described it in these terms in one of his Sapphic poems, addressed to a friend, Julus Antonius:

Pindarum quisquis studet aemulari,
Iule, ceratis ope Daedalea
nititur pennis vitreo daturus
nomina ponto.
monte decurrens velut amnis, imbres
quem super notas aluere ripas,
fervet immensusque ruit profundo
Pindarus ore... (C.IV.II)

Translated by James Michie:[31]

Julus, whoever tries to rival Pindar,
Flutters on wings of wax, a rude contriver
Doomed like the son of Daedalus to christen
Somewhere a shining sea.
A river bursts its banks and rushes down a
Mountain with uncontrollable momentum,
Rain-saturated, churning, chanting thunder -
There you have Pindar's style...


  1. ^ Quintilian 10.1.61; cf. Pseudo-Longinus 33.5.
  2. ^ Noted in Deipnosophistae, epitome of book I.
  3. ^ 'Some Aspects of Pindar's Style', Lawrence Henry Baker, The Sewanee Review Vol 31 No. 1 January 1923, page 100 preview
  4. ^ ibid.
  5. ^ 'A Companion to the Greek Lyric Poets', Douglas E. Gerber, Brill 1997, page 261
  6. ^ 'A Short History of Greek Literature', Jacqueline de Romilly, University of Chicage Press 1985, page 37
  7. ^ 'Pindari Carmina Cum Fragmentis, Editio Altera', C. M. Bowra, Oxford University Press 1968, Pythia VIII, lines 95-7
  8. ^ 'The Odes of Pindar', translated by Geoffrey S. Conway, Everyman's University Library, 1972, page 144
  9. ^ a b 'A Companion to the Greek Lyric Poets', Douglas E. Gerber, Brill (1997) page 253
  10. ^ 'Pindar', Francis David Morice, Bibliobazaar, LLC (2009), page 211-15
  11. ^ 'The Odes of Pindar', Geoffrey S. Conway, J.M.Dent and Sons (1972), Introduction and Notes
  12. ^ 'Pindar', Francis David Morice, Bibliobazaar, LLC (2009) pages 31-8
  13. ^ Plutarch, Life of Alexander 11.6.; Arrian, Anabasis Alexandri 1.9.10
  14. ^ 'The Odes of Pindar', Geoffrey S. Conway, John Dent and Sons (1972) page 138
  15. ^ T.K.Hubbard, 'Remaking Myth and Rewriting History: Cult Tradition in Pindar's Ninth Nemean', HSCP' 94 (1992), page 78
  16. ^ 'Thucydides and Pindar: Historical Narratives and the World of Epinikian Poetry', Simon Hornblower, Oxford University Press (2004), pages 177-80
  17. ^ 'The Odes of Pindar', Geoffrey S. Conway, John Dent and Sons (1972) page 158
  18. ^ 'The Odes of Pindar', Geoffrey S. Conway, John Dent and Sons (1972) pages 10, 88-9
  19. ^ 'The Odes of Pindar', Geoffrey S. Conway, John Dent and Sons (1972), Introduction page XIII
  20. ^ Richard Jebb, Bacchylides: the poems and fragments, Cambridge University Press 1905, page 41
  21. ^ a b c Douglas E. Gerber, 'A Companion to the Greek Lyric Poets', Brill (1997) page 255
  22. ^ M.M. Willcock: Pindar: Victory Odes (p. 3). Cambridge UP, 1995.
  23. ^ Ewen Bowie, 'Lyric and Elegiac Poetry' in The Oxford History of the Classical World, J.Boardman, J.Griffin and O.Murray (eds), Oxford University Press (1986) page 110
  24. ^ a b c Geoffrey S. Conway, 'The Odes of Pindar', J.M. Dent and Sons (1972), Introduction page xx
  25. ^ Ewen Bowie, 'Lyric and Elegiac Poetry', in The Oxford History of the Classical World, eds. J.Boardman, J.Griffin and O.Murray (1986) page 108
  26. ^ Jacqueline de Romilly, 'A Short History of Greek Literature', University of Chicago Press (!985), page 38
  27. ^ Lucas, F. L.. Greek Poetry for Everyman. Macmillan Company, New York. pp. 262. 
  28. ^ Richard Jebb, Bacchylides: the poems and fragments, Cambridge University Press 1905, page 41 digitalized Google version
  29. ^ Geoffrey S. Conway, 'The Odes of Pindar', J.M.Dent and Sons (1972), pages 92-3
  30. ^ C.M.Bowra, 'Pindari Carmina cum Fragmentis, editio altera', Oxford University Press (1968), Pythia II 49-56
  31. ^ The Odes of Horace James Michie (translator), Penguin Classics 1976

Further reading


External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

War is sweet to those who have no experience of it.

Pindar (518 BC438 BC) was a Boeotian poet, counted as one of the nine lyric poets of Greece. The only works of his to have survived complete are a series of odes written to celebrate the victors in athletic games.

Unless otherwise stated the translations used here are by Richard Stoneman, and are taken from Pindar The Odes and Selected Fragments (London: Everyman Library, 1997).


Days to come will prove the surest witness.
If a man shall hope in aught he does
To escape the eyes of god, he makes an error.
Man is a dream about a shadow. But when some splendour falls upon him from God, a glory comes to him and his life is sweet.
  • Here profits not
    To tell the whole truth with clear face unveiled.
    Often is man's best wisdom to be silent.
  • οὔ τοι ἅπασα κερδίων
    φαίνοισα πρόσωπον ἀλάθει᾽ ἀτρεκής:
    καὶ τὸ σιγᾶν πολλάκις ἐστὶ σοφώτατον ἀνθρώπῳ νοῆσαι.
    • Nemean 5, line 17; page 222. (483 BC?)
  • For words
    Live longer down the years than deeds.
  • ῥῆμα δ᾽ ἑργμάτων χρονιώτερον βιοτεύει
    • Nemean 4, line 6; page 213. (473 BC?)
  • Creatures of a day! What is a man?
    What is he not? A dream of a shadow
    Is our mortal being.
    But when there comes to men
    A gleam of splendour given of Heaven,
    Then rests on them a light of glory
    And blesséd are their days.
  • ἐπάμεροι: τί δέ τις; τί δ᾽ οὔ τις; σκιᾶς ὄναρ
    ἄνθρωπος. ἀλλ᾽ ὅταν αἴγλα διόσδοτος ἔλθῃ,
    λαμπρὸν φέγγος ἔπεστιν ἀνδρῶν καὶ μείλιχος αἰών
    • Pythian 8, line 95-8; pages 162-3. (446 BC)
  • War is sweet to those who have no experience of it, but the experienced man trembles exceedingly at heart on its approach.
  • γλυκύ δ᾽ἀπείρῳ πόλεμος.
    πεπειραμένων δέ τις ταρβεῖ προσιόντα νιν καρδία περισσῶς.
    • Fragment 110; page 377.
    • Variant translations: This phrase is the origin of the Latin proverb "Dulce bellum inexpertis" which is sometimes misattributed to Desiderius Erasmus‎.
    • War is sweet to them that know it not.
    • War is sweet to those not acquainted with it
    • War is sweet to those who do not know it.
    • War is sweet to those that never have experienced it.
    • War is delightful to those who have had no experience of it.
  • A good deed hidden in silence dies.
    • Fragment 121; page 387
  • Time is the best preserver of righteous men.
    • Fragment 159; page 387
  • Man is a dream about a shadow. But when some splendour falls upon him from God, a glory comes to him and his life is sweet.
    • As quoted in No-one (1985) by R. S. Thomas; also in R.S. Thomas : Identity, Environment, and Deity (2003) by Christopher Morgan, p. 27

Olympian Odes (476 BC)


  • Days to come will prove the surest witness.
  • ἁμέραι δ᾽ ἐπίλοιποι
    μάρτυρες σοφώτατοι.
    • Olympian 1, line 33-4; page 4.
  • But if a man shall hope in aught he does
    To escape the eyes of god, he makes an error.
  • εἰ δὲ θεὸν ἀνήρ τις ἔλπεταί τι λαθέμεν ἔρδων, ἁμαρτάνει.
    • Olympian 1, line 63; page 6.
  • Inborn of nature's wisdom
    The poet's truth.
    • Olympian 2, line 87; page 16.

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by Richard Claverhouse Jebb
[ 52 ]


§ 1. Pindar is a classic of whom the study may be expected to grow with the growth of an interest in Greek archaeology. Not, indeed, because it is indebted to him, so largely as to many other authors, for direct illustration. Rather because his "Odes of Victory" are lit up in a new way by a fuller knowledge of the places with which they are concerned, of the contests which they celebrate, of the art and religion by which they were inspired. To take a single instance—the discoveries at Olympia, which have restored for us the main features of the altis, have given a new meaning for every modern reader to the beautiful, but hitherto indistinct, picture suggested by Pindar's description of "all the holy place resounding with festal joy," when "the lovely light of the fair-faced moon shone forth" after a day of contests. Pindar's odes are poems of occasion, magnificent expressions of Hellenic life in its most distinctively Hellenic phases. Hitherto the real drawback to his popularity has not been obscurity of language, but the strain which he was felt to place on the modern imagination. Every step gained in the reconstruction of old Greek life is an addition [ 53 ] to the most indispensable commentary on Pindar. It cannot be said that he has been neglected in recent times. Since the monumental labours of A. Boeckh, the edition of Dissen, and Bergk's in his Poetae Lyrici, we have had from Germany Tycho Mommsen's edition (1869), and more lately the recension by W. Christ in Teubner's series; since J. W. Donaldson's edition and Paley's translation, England has had the version in which Mr Ernest Myers shows so fine a sympathy with Pindar's spirit, and the able edition of the Olympian and Pythian Odes by Mr Fennell. In offering the following notes to the readers of this Journal, my object is merely to contribute something, however little, to a closer appreciation of a poet whose charm gains on those who endeavour to see him more clearly in his relation to the life of his day, to its thought and art, and, above all, to the art which he had made his own.

§ 2. The spirit of Pindar's poetry is Panhellenic. This is, indeed, a part of its essence. At Olympia, Delphi, Nemea, Corinth, Greeks of all cities were brought into sympathy by rites and beliefs common to all. Pindar is highly skilled in the treatment of local myths or cults, appropriate to the particular victory. But a sure instinct ever prompts him to link these interests of the individual city with topics which appeal to the religious sense or ancestral pride of the whole Hellenic name. The triumph which had owed its opportunity to the conception [ 54 ] of a national unity could not be worthily commemorated in song which that conception had not helped to inspire. Pindar's age was one in which a really great poet could scarcely fail to be in accord with the quickened sense of Hellenic kinship. The years 502 to 452 B.C. measure the limits of his extant work; his happiest activity falls in the period just before and after the invasion of Greece by Xerxes. A great danger had drawn the members of the Hellenic family closer together; a great deliverance had left them animated by the recent memory of deeds which seemed to attest the legends of Agamemnon and Achilles; warmed by a more vivid faith in those gods who had indeed been with them in the hour of trial; comforted by a new stability of freedom; cheered by a sense of Hellenic energies which could expand securely from the Pillars of Hercules to the Phasis, from the Nile to the furthest point that man may reach on the way to the Hyperboreans; exalted in thought and fancy by the longing to body forth all this joy and hope in the most beautiful forms which language and music, marble, ivory, and gold could furnish for the honour of the gods, and for the delight of men who were their seed through the heroes. Aeschylus, in his Persae, heralds as with a clarion-note the advent of this age: Pindar, in his Odes of Victory, expresses some of its most brilliant and most suggestive aspects.

§ 3. Every great Hellenic artist of the fifth century B.C. was vitally affected by his own relation [ 55 ] to the common life of the city and of Hellas. If it could be shown that Pindar, a loyal Theban, was a disloyal Greek, then we might well marvel if that profound discord with the very soul of Greek art did not utter itself in some jarring notes which even a modern ear could not fail to catch. A great scholar has said:—"Such a man as Pindar could take no part in the enthusiasm of the Wars of Liberation, and could shortly after the battle of Marathon sing the glories of an Athenian without giving one word to that great day."[2] The reference is to Pythian vii., of 22 lines only, for Megacles the Alcmaeonid, who won the four-horse-chariot race at Delphi in 490 B.C. Granting—what is not certain—that this slight ode was written after the battle, the absence of allusion to it would be sufficiently explained by the fact that such an allusion would have been singularly infelicitous. Athenian gossip accused the Alcmaeonidae of having signalled from Athens to the Persians, by raising a bright shield, immediately after the battle[3]. Turn to other odes, and we shall see how entirely Pindar rejoiced in the great national victory. Salamis, he says, is the glory of the Athenians, Plataea of the Spartans[4]—those fights "whereby the Medes with curved bows were overthrown." "Some god has turned aside from us the stone that hung over our heads, [ 56 ] as over Tantalus,—a torment greater than Hellas could bear[5]. But now the fear hath gone by, and eased me from sore anguish." Still, indeed, there is grief in his heart (καίπερ ἀχνύμενος θυμόν); since Thebes, the native city which he loved so well, had no part in the glory. Elsewhere his feeling on this point comes out clearly, and in a way which is not without pathos. "In which of the fair deeds of yore done in thy land, immortal Thebe, didst thou take most delight?" When thou broughtest forth Dionysos with the flowing locks, who sits beside Demeter; when Zeus came to Alcmene's bed; when Teiresias had fame for prophecy, and Iolaos for the driving of chariots? "But the grace of the old time sleeps, and men forget it, save what hath been wedded to the glorious tide of song, and hath won the perfect meed of minstrel's skill." The greatness of Thebes, Pindar felt, belonged to the past, not to the present. As he exults in the deliverance of Greece Proper from the Persians, so he celebrates the nearly simultaneous deliverance of Sicilian and Italian Greece from the Carthaginians, by that victory of Hiero at Cumae which "drew Hellas out of heavy servitude[6]."

§ 4. Though his poetry has no immediate concern with politics, we can, I think, discern the outlines of his own political creed. His family belonged to a noble house of ancient renown in Greece,—the Aegeidae, who traced their descent [ 57 ] from the "Cadmean" stock of prehistoric Thebes[7]. Before the Dorian conquest of the Peloponnesus, while the lands beneath Taygetus on the eastern side were still possessed by the Achaean masters of Amyclae, the Aegeidae had settled among them, as well as some Minyans from Lemnos. After the Dorian conquest the Aegeidae, though of Cadmean descent, appear to have been adopted by the Spartans into one of the three Dorian tribes[8]; and hence Pindar can say,—"fame tells that from Sparta comes the fair glory of our house; thence sprang the Aegeidae, my sires, who went to Thera" (Pyth. V. 68). Elsewhere he alludes to the still earlier chapter in the story of the family, when they, sons of Thebes (σέθεν ἔκγονοι), "took Amyclae, by the oracles of Delphi" (Isthm. vi. 14). The Aegeidae had a branch at Cyrene as well as at Thera, Sparta, and Thebes. Pindar speaks of the Theban Aegeidae as "showing honour at the banquet" to Cyrene, when they keep the festival of the Carneia—a festival which, though in historical times associated with Dorians and especially with Sparta, had been originally brought from Thebes to Amyclae by the Cadmean Aegeidae, and had been of old associated with the worship of Demeter rather than with that of Apollo. Thus connected, by a lineage of which he was evidently proud, both with Cadmean Thebes and with Dorian Sparta, Pindar was not likely to have much personal sympathy with any [ 58 ] advanced phase of democracy. The government of Thebes at the time of the Persian wars had been, in the phrase of Thucydides, a δυναστεία οὐ μετὰ νόμων,—an oligarchy of a narrow and non-constitutional type; this had been replaced, after the repulse of the Persian invasion, by an ὀλιγαρχία ἰσόμονος (Thuc. iii. 62). The latter phrase well expresses, as I conceive, the shade of Greek political life most congenial to Pindar. See the suggestive passage in Pythian xi. (478 B.C.) 53: τῶν γὰρ ἀνὰ πόλιν εὑρίσκων τὰ μέσα μάσσονι σὺν | ὄλβῳ τεθαλότα, μέμφομ' αἶσαν τυαννίδων· | ξυναῖσιδ' ἀμφ' ἀρεταῖς τέταμαι, κ.τ.λ.: "in polities I find the middle state crowned with more enduring good; therefore praise I not the despot's portion; those virtues move my zeal which serve the folk." One in whom pride of ancestry fostered a reverence for the traditions of Dorian civil life could have as little liking for absolutism as for the rule of the mob; and that Pindar felt such reverence is well seen in the passage which speaks of Hiero as having founded Aetna (the restored Catana) Ὑλλίδος στάθμας ἐν νόμος, in the laws of the Hyllic rule: "yea," adds the poet, "and the Dorian sons of Pamphylus and of the Heracleidae, dwelling under the cliffs of Taygetus, are ever content to abide by the ordinances of Aegimius" (Pyth. i. 63)[9]. When Pindar speaks of the royal lot [ 59 ] supremely happy and glorious (τὸ δ' ἔσχατον κορυφοῦται βασιλεῦσι, Ol. i. 113), this does not involve approval of the τυραννίς as a form of government. He is speaking with reference to victory in the great festivals; the four-horse-chariot race, the contest which contributed most to the splendour of such festivals, was possible only for very rich men; and τύραννοι, such as Hiero, commanded the amplest means of achieving such victories with impressive magnificence. Pindar's picture of the estimable τύραννοσ is one who is "gentle to the folk, not envious of the noble, and to strangers a father wondrous kind":—a character which, if realised, would have gone far to strip the Greek τύραννισ of its distinctive vices[10].

On the other hand, there is only one touch in Pindar's extant work which can be said to reflect unfavourably on democracy,—his remark that the man of honest tongue has the advantage under every form of rule,—παρὰ τυραννίδι, χὡπόταν ὁ λάβος στρατός, χὤταν πόλιν οἱ σοφοὶ τηρέωντι[11]. By οἱ σοφοί are meant "the few"—the houses in whom the ancient sacred rituals are hereditary,—the depositaries of ancient civil wisdom and law. Now it is worthy of notice that this occurs in an ode written for Hiero of Syracuse, and that in Pindar's time (if he died, as seems likely, about 441 B.C.) neither Greece Proper nor the Hellenic East yet presented [ 60 ] any phase of democracy which could be intelligibly indicated as the rule of "the raging crowd." Clearly, I think, he is referring—in phrase which Siceliots could well appreciate—to those violent democratic revolutions which more than once convulsed Sicilian cities, and overthrew tyrannies, in the earlier part of the fifth century. There is no reason to doubt the warmth or the sincerity of the admiration which Pindar felt for the type of stable and reasonable democracy—for the Athens of Themistocles and Pericles. "Fairest of preludes is the renown of Athens for the mighty race of the Alcmaeonidae[12]...What home, or what house, could I call mine by a name that should sound more glorious for Hellas to hear?" κλειναί, μεγάλαι, εὐώνυμοι, λιπαραί, ἰοστέφανοι, ἱεραί—such are the epithets which Pindar elsewhere bestows on Athens; but most interesting of all, perhaps, is the reference in Nemean v., where, speaking of Menander[13], the Athenian trainer of an Aeginetan victor, he says,—χρὴ δ' ἀπ' Ἀθανᾶν τέκτον' ἀθληταῖσιν ἔμμεν: "meet it is that a shaper of athletes should come from Athens." Those who know Pindar's style, and who remember his frequent comparison of the poet's efforts to the athlete's, will scarcely doubt that, when he wrote those words, he was thinking of the early days when his own young powers had been disciplined at Athens by Lasus of Hermione.

§ 5. Apart from his sympathies with any particular polity, or his relations to any one city, there [ 61 ] is a larger and grander aspect of Pindar's poetry in regard to the politics of Hellas. The epic poets had sung the glories of war. Pindar celebrates the rivalries of peace. Aegina—which claims a larger number of his odes than any other one city—was a great seat of commerce: he describes it as a "heaven-set pillar for strangers of every clime[14], wherein Saving Themis hath worship by the side of Zeus the god of the stranger." Corinth, "vestibule of the Isthmian Poseidon," is a city "wherein dwelleth Eunomia, and her sister, the upholder of cities, and unfailing Dicè, and like-minded Eirenè, watchers over wealth for men, golden daughters of wise-counselling Themis[15]" At Opus, again, there is a home for "Themis and her daughter, glorious Eunomia, who saveth[16]." Tranquillity is the friend of cities (Ἁσυχία φιλόπολις); and Tranquillity is the daughter of Justice[17]. We can often feel in Pindar that new sense of leisure for peaceful pursuits and civilising arts which came after the Persian Wars; there breathes in his poetry such a message of sacred peace as the Olympic festival itself proclaimed every year to Hellas by "the heralds of the seasons, the Elean truce-bringers of Zeus son of Cronus[18]"—κάρυκες ὡρᾶν,...σπονδοφόροι Κρονίδα Ζηνὸς Ἀλεῖοι.

§ 6. Pindar's attitude towards religion is that of a man who held devoutly the received national creed of Greece, but with whose faith were blended certain [ 62 ] elements distinguishing it from that of the ordinary citizen of the more cultivated sort. Here, again, we must remember his connection with the Aegeidae. In such houses certain family rites and bodies of sacred lore were usually hereditary. These, combined with political influence, often gave such families peculiarly intimate relations with the chief centres of worship and divination, such as the temples at Delos, Abae, and, above all, Delphi. The direct influence of the great houses on the oracles can be constantly recognised in Greek history. Pindar was, besides, a man of lofty genius, and of that typically Greek temperament in which the sense of natural beauty rose to be a sense of awe as in presence of a divine majesty; as when Plato says of the soul that had looked upon the true loveliness, σεφθεῖσα δὲ ἀνέπεσεω ὑπτία. Such a man was as perfect a teller-forth of the honour of the gods, as truly a heaven-born προφήτης, as the temple of Delphi could have found for its service and the more we study Pindar's poetry, the more we shall read in it the mind of that Delphic religion which, in his time, was still a mighty, if a declining, power. I may illustrate my meaning by a particular trait. Pindar frequently refers to the art of divination as one by which skilled seers win unerring signs from the gods; more especially he renders homage to the great augural clan of the lamidae, whose practice of the μαντικὴ δι' ἐμπύρων on the altar of Zeus entitles Olympia to be emphatically styled δέσποιν' ἀλαθείας, [ 63 ] Mistress of Truth[19]. At other times, again, he declares with equal emphasis that no forecast of the future is possible. "Never yet has any mortal man won from the gods a sure token (σύμβολον πιστόν) of an event to come, but forecasts of the future have been doomed to blindness"; τῶν δὲ μελλόντων τετύφλωνται φραδαί[20]. Again: "the sign from Zeus attends not on men with clearness[21]." If Pindar had been asked to explain the apparent contradiction, the answer would probably have been that, when the gods give omens which they intend men to understand, these omens are infallible; but that often such divine tokens are altogether withheld; and that in many instances, when some sign is vouchsafed, but not of a clear kind,—as if to try the spiritual insight of men,—men interpret such a sign amiss. Such a view of divination would have been just such as it was the policy of an oracular priesthood to propagate. Those who worked the machinery of the great oracles were concerned to hold the balance between the doctrine that there is a sacred science of divination, that the gods do inspire their chosen ministers, and the plain lesson of experience, that inferences drawn from oracles or omens were often fallacious[22] Pindar well [ 64 ] represents the priestly attitude on the question, with this difference, that his external position exempts him from all suspicion of conscious imposture.

Reverence for the divine power is a strongly marked and ever-present characteristic of his work: everything must be ascribed to the gods as its author; "from the gods are all means of human excellence"; "it is the god who gives every accomplishment to men's hopes; the god can overtake the winged eagle; he is swifter than the dolphin in the sea; he bends the necks of the haughty; he gives to others a glory that never grows old[23]." Pindar's reluctance to relate aught that is unseemly concerning the gods appears in touches that, at a first glance, might remind us of Plato, or even of Euhemerus: yet his feeling as to the mythical theology seems to be essentially different from that of either. A typical case is his treatment of the story that, when the gods dined with Tantalus, they ate the flesh of his son Pelops. Pindar will not represent the gods as cannibals (γαστριμάργους): he prefers to believe that Poseidon, enamoured of Pelops, carried him away, like Ganymede, to Olympus; then the envious neighbours of Tantalus invented the story that Pelops had been devoured. The supposed conduct of the neighbours is, in itself, [ 65 ] a touch of Euhemerism, it is introduced, however, not to eliminate the marvellous, but merely to help the substitution of one marvel for another. On the other hand, the poet is not concerned for the moral effect of the myth on those who hear it; in this respect his own version is no improvement; it is the dignity and decorum of the gods—as he conceives these—which he is anxious to vindicate. In other words, his rejection of scandalising myths springs from an instinct of religious reverence; it is not based on moral grounds; it is an earnest expression of the Greek repugnance to δυσφημία, or, in his own phrase, of the ἀδινον δάκος κακαγοριᾶν, in regard to the highest beings whom he can imagine. "It is seemly (ἐοικός) to speak fair things of deities." "To revile the gods is a hateful work of poet's skill[24]."

§ 7. I referred above to certain further elements which are blended in Pindar with the popular form of the Hellenic faith. The chief of these is a mystic doctrine of the soul's destiny after it has left the body. After death, the guilty soul pays penalty for all sins committed "in this realm of Zeus"; there is a judge who tries them, "pronouncing sentence ἐχθρᾷ ἀνάγκᾳ, by a dread necessity," under a law which puts inexorable constraint upon his compassion[25]. "Those who have had the courage to be steadfast thrice in this world, and thrice in the world of spirits, and to keep their souls utterly from wrong, ascend by the path of Zeus to the tower of [ 66 ] Cronus; there the breezes of Ocean breathe around the Islands of the Blest; and flowers of gold are bright, some on the fair trees of that land, and some in the waters, with chains and wreaths whereof they twine their hands, by the righteous decrees of Rhadamanthys[26]." The ἐς τρὶς ἑκατέρωθι μείναντες brings before us the mystical doctrine of the myth in the Phaedrus. Here we see that Pindar was at least familiar with the idea of metempsychosis; how far he was a disciple of Pythagoreanism is less certain. Another passage has been taken to imply the Pythagorean doctrine of a relative ethical mean; another, a Pythagorean division of virtue as fourfold—temperance, courage, justice, prudence[27] The impression which such utterances of Pindar leave on the mind is that he was acquainted with the teaching of Mysteries, especially, perhaps, the Orphic; that he held this doctrine as an esoteric supplement to the popular religion, harmonising them in some way which satisfied his own religious sense; but that his speculations had not taken any shape so clear or definite as to deserve the name of a philosophy. A contradiction has sometimes been felt between those passages in which he anticipates a fully conscious existence for the soul after death, determined by the moral character of the earthly life, and other passages in which he might seem rather to echo the popular language in [ 67 ] regard to Hades, as peopled by shadows whose being is "the lowest degree of existence above annihilation"; such a being as the Homeric Achilles conceives:—ἦ ῥά ἔστι καὶ εἰν Ἀΐδαο δόμοισιν | ψυχὴ καὶ εἴδωλον, ἀτὰρ φρένες οὐκ ἔνι πάμπαν[28] On a closer examination, the supposed contradiction seems to me to depend on the sense which we are to attach to a phrase in Pyth. v. 90f., where he is speaking of "holy kings who have passed to Hades" (λαχόντες Ἀΐδαν):—ἀκούοντί που χθονίᾳ φρενὶ | σφὸν ὄλβον υἱῷ τε κοινὰν χάριν: "they hear, I ween, with the mind of the nether world, their own good fortune and the fame which their son shares with them." If χθονίᾳ φρενί meant, "with such imperfect consciousness as the dead possess," then Pindar would be speaking like the Homeric Achilles. But surely this would be a strained and arbitrary construction. It is more in accord with Pindar's manner to regard χθονίᾳ as conveying a shadowy suggestion that the intelligence which belongs to the unseen world is of a different order from the intelligence of the living.

§ 8. The elastic word ἀρετή, as used by Pindar, covers all excellence, physical, moral, and mental: though, as might have been expected, his most frequent use of the word relates to "prowess," especially at the festivals. One of Pindar's dominant thoughts is that φυή, native temperament—the direct gift of the gods—is the grand source of ἀρετή[29], and that training is of comparatively slight [ 68 ] power. The similarity of phrase might lead us to regard Pindar's depreciation of διδακταὶ ἀρεταί[30] as a forerunner of the famous οὐ διδακτὸν ἀρετή,—the paradoxical formula by which Plato expressed that "virtue is not brought to a man, but must be drawn out of him." There is not, however, much connection between the two sentiments which happen to have clothed themselves in like words. The ἀρετή which Pindar has in view is mainly that of the victorious athlete, to whom physical gifts are essential; and of the poet, who is "born, not made." He has, further, the belief—fostered by his own pride of Aegid descent—that the qualities of a good stock are hereditary. Thus he speaks of "an upright mind derived from noble sires" (πατέρων ὀρθαὶ φρένες ἐξ ἀγαθῶν)[31]. But his belief in heredity is duly guarded. "The virtues of old time repeat their strength at intervals (ἀμειβόμεναι) in the generations of men; even as the black soil of the tilth yields not fruit continually, and as trees will not bear a fragrant bloom of like richness with every returning year: even thus doth Fate lead on the mortal race[32]." Destiny—Πότμος ἄναξ (Nem. iv. 42)—appears with Pindar under a more benignant aspect than with his contemporary Aeschylus. For Pindar, it is rather the supreme Intelligence—the concentrated embodiment of a divine Providence—than that relentless Aeschylean "Necessity" of which the ministers are "the threefold Fates and the mindful Furies." [ 69 ] The maxims of conduct and the moral reflections which are strewn through Pindar's poetry express the peculiarly Greek feelings about life in an earnest and sometimes beautiful form. "One race is there of men, one race of gods; and from one mother (Earth) we both have our being; but in our power are we wholly separate; for the race of men is naught; but the brazen heaven abides, a dwelling-place steadfast for ever. Yet withal we have some likeness to the Immortals, perchance in lofty mind, perchance in form; though we know not what line Fate hath marked for the goal of our course, whether in the day-time or in the watches of the night[33]." "Verily the hopes of men are oft tossed up and down, as they cleave the waves of vain deceit....Many things fall out for men beyond their reckoning, sometimes adverse to joy; but sometimes they who had encountered the billows of woe have suddenly changed that trouble for bliss abounding[34]." Time alone can show whether a seeming ill is not a blessing in disguise[35]; and Time is the only sure vindicator of truth[36]. In the very spirit of the sacred festivals, their poet says, διάπειρα βροτῶν ἔλεγχος, trial against their fellows is the test of men[37]. The first incentive to honourable effort is "Shame, daughter of Forethought,"—a provident desire for the good opinion of the good[38]. [ 70 ] A further incentive is the noble desire of victory, χάρμα, "the light of life[39]." And the highest worth of victory is not in the momentary triumph, but in that lasting renown which the poet can confer. "The word lives longer than the deeds,"—ῥῆμα δ' ἐργμάτων χρονιώτερον βιοτεύει[40]. The elements of "sane happiness" (ὑγίεις ὄλβος)—such as has least reason to dread the jealousy of the gods—are, substance sufficing for daily wants, and a good name among men (εὐλογία). He who has these must not "seek to be a god." To a few is given the best lot that man can attain,—πλοῦτος ἀρεταῖς δεδαιδαλμένος, wealth set with virtues—as gold with gems more precious still. This is "a star exceeding brilliant, the truest light for man"; and it is so because it "bringeth opportunity for various deeds[41]." It would be a view very unfair to Pindar which interpreted this as mere worship of wealth. We have here the characteristically Greek conception that man's highest happiness is to be found in the unimpeded development and active exercise of all faculties, bodily and spiritual. Pindar's praise of wealth rests ultimately on the same basis as Aristotle's requirement that one should be "adequately equipped with the external goods"—adequately, that is, for free and complete self-development. The other side is given in Pindar's own phrase: [ 71 ] "this, they say, is the sorest pain—that one who hath sense of noble things should perforce turn his feet away from them[42]." The Theban poet quotes this as a well-known saying. Thebes was the scene of that banquet in 479 B.C. at which, as Herodotus relates, the Persian exclaimed to his fellow-guest, "This is the most cruel pang that man can bear—to have much insight, but power over nothing[43]." May not Pindar have been thinking of the same story, which had become a proverb for his native city?

§ 9. Pindar could not be one of the self-effacing poets. The conditions of his art, in those lofty hymns which celebrate victories consecrated by religion, demanded that he should come forward as the inspired envoy of the gods. If he magnifies his office, it is because the part which he fills is not only that of the minstrel; it is also closely allied to the function of the priest and of the seer (μάντις). We are always on dangerous ground in seeking illustrations for Greek things from non- Hellenic sources; but, with due reservations, it would not be improper to suggest an analogy between the didactic element in Pindar and the same element in Hebrew Prophecy. The personal character of Pindar is more surely indicated by the spirit of his work than by particular sentiments which occur in [ 72 ] it; these γνῶμαι are of the Delphian prophet rather than of the man. We note that, while the sense of beauty which possesses his mind is normally Greek, as finding its full satisfaction in human splendour of every kind, it differs from the ordinary Greek type in a deeper sympathy with external nature. He delights in the season when, after dark winter, "the chamber of the Hours is opened, and delicate plants perceive the fragrant spring" (frag. 45—where οἰχθέντος Ὡρᾶν θαλάμου recalls the modern Greek ἄνοιξις): he compares joy following sorrow to the bursting of the vernal earth into bloom (Pyth. iv. 64, Isthm. iii. 36). When Iamus prays to Apollo beneath the clear night sky (νυκτὸς ὑπαίθριος, Ol. vi. 61); when Jason, about to sail with the Argonauts, invokes "the rushing strength of waves and winds, and the nights, and the paths of the deep" (Pyth. iv. 194),—the Greek words are chosen with a magic which seems to place us under the stars or on the waters of the South. Both Aeschylus and Pindar speak of Etna in volcanic eruption. But Aeschylus—thoroughly Greek in this—fixes our thought on the scathe done to man's labour: "rivers of fire shall burst forth, rending with fierce fangs the level meads of fruitful Sicily." Pindar gives a picture of natural grandeur and terror: when Etna, "pillar of the sky, nurse of keen snow all the year," from secret depths hurls forth "pure springs of fire unapproachable; and in the daytime those rivers pour out a stream of lurid smoke; but in the darkness a red rolling flame bears rocks with a roar to the [ 73 ] wide deep" (Pyth. i. 20). The lines on the eclipse of the sun (frag. 74) are sublime. But it is not the moral sublimity of Aeschylus. Pindar never rises into the sphere of titanic battle between destiny and will. He is always of the earth, even when he is among the gods. For him, past and present are linked by the descent of men, through the heroes, from the gods; he is always thinking of the present in relation either to the heroic past, or to some change which the gods may have in store for the near future. His ethics are not subtle or original, but frankly express the common creed of "good men" in his time: φίλον εἴν φιλεῖν· ποτὶ δ' ἐχθρὸν ἅτ' ἐχθρὸς ἐὼν λύκοιο δίκαν ὑποθεύσομαι, | ἄλλ' ἄλλοτε πατέων σκολιαῖς ὁδοῖς (Pyth. ii. 83): "Friendship for friend: foe will I thwart as foe, wolf-like, with changeful course in crooked paths." An ingenious interpretation of the context would make this a sentiment condemned by Pindar. But it seems to be merely the common Greek maxim of his age, that all is fair in war. Compare Isthm. iii. 65, where he praises a man for being in courage a lion, in craft a fox (μῆτιν δ' ἀλώπηξ), with the comment,—χρὴ δὲ πᾶν ἔρδοντα μαυρῶσαι τὸν ἐχθρόν, "'tis well to worst a foe by any deed." Compare the utterances of Menelaus in the Ajax (1132f.), and of Creon in the Antigone (522).

§ 10. Pindar has much of the old epic tone, and cleaves to the old epic view of the poet as the inspired minstrel. On the other hand, he frequently evinces the sense that poetry has become an art [ 74 ] with elaborate technical methods, and that the exercise of this art is a profession. In the Iliad, it will be remembered, ἀοιδοί appear only as the hired chanters of laments for the dead (xxiv. 720)—that is, if we except the passage (Il. xviii. 604), not found in any MS. of the Iliad, and almost certainly an interpolation, where the ἀοιδός plays for the dancers on the Shield of Achilles. In the Odyssey, the ἀοιδός is already a semi-professional character; the epithet δημιοεργός can be applied to him as well as to the soothsayer, the physician, the herald, the carpenter; though he is still surrounded by the reverence felt for a recipient of direct inspiration. His presence restrains Aegisthus from meditated crime; nor does Aegisthus dare to shed his blood. With Pindar we have come, of course, to the age of professional rhapsodes, who bear the branch of laurel (ῥάβδος): Isthm. iii. 55:—Ὅμηρος...πᾶσαν ὀρθώσαις ἀρετὰν κατὰ ῥάβδον ἔφρασεν | θεσπεσίων ἐπέων λοιποῖς ἀθύρειν: "Homer hath done right to all the prowess (of Ajax), and hath made it a theme for men after-born, by the wand of his lays divine"—where {{{1}}}, the branch being the symbol of the tradition. So Nem. ii. 1, the rhapsodes—Ὁμηρίδαι ῥαπτῶν ἐπέων ἀοιδοί—begin "with a prelude to Zeus" (Διὸς ἐκ προοιμίον). The so-called Homeric Hymns are such προοίμια, intended for the use of rhapsodes, and the latest of them are probably as late as Pindar's youth. Pindar's own affinity with the Homeric spirit is seen not merely in echoes of Homeric language [ 75 ] (as Ol. vi. 17, ἀμφότερον, μάντιν τ' ἀγαθὸν καὶ δουρὶ μάρνασθαι), but also in such touches as his tacit correction of Hesiod (Pyth. iii. 28). Hesiod (frag. 225 Goettl.) had said that a crow was the messenger who announced the infidelity of Coronis to Apollo; Pindar refers the discovery to Apollo's "all-knowing mind" (πάντα ἴσαντι νόῳ), and represents him, with Homeric vigour, as reaching the scene "at the first stride" of his immortal feet (βάματι ἐν πρώτῳ): cp. Il. xiii. 20, of Poseidon,—τρὶς μὲν ὀρέξατ' ἰών, τὸ δὲ τέτρατον ἵκετο τέκμωρ. Thoroughly Homeric, too, in spirit is Pindar's derivation of the name Aias from αἰετός, the eagle which was the omen of his birth, rather than from the plaintive αἶ αἶ to which another legend pointed: Isthm. v. 53, καί νιν ὄρνιχος φανέντος κέκλετ' ἐπώνυμον εὐρυβίαν Αἴαντα. In the same ode, 47, it may be remarked that ἄρρηκτον φυάν means "stalwart," not "invulnerable," and that, therefore, Pindar has not departed from Homeric sobriety by adopting the later tradition.

§ 11. Pindar's personal sympathies are strongly knit to that heroic age in which his ancestry claimed a part, and in which his own imagination could still move with such noble freedom. All the more he feels the change which has come over the motives of poetry. "The men of old lightly sent forth shafts of song that told their loves" (οἱ πάλαι...ῥίμφα παιδείους ἐτόξευον...ὕμνους). Here he is thinking, not of Homeric epos, but of the lyric poetry which came after it,—of Alcaeus, Sappho, [ 76 ] Ibycus, Anacreon. "For then the Muse was not yet greedy of gain, nor a hireling; and sweet songs of tender sound were not yet sold by honey-voiced Terpsichore with faces made fair by silver"—(ἀργυρωθεῖσαι πρόσωπα. "But now the Muse bids heed that word of the Argive [Aristodemus] which cleaves to the paths of truth: 'Money, money maketh man,' said he, when with loss of wealth he lost his friends" (Isthm. ii. 1—11). The sentiment in Pyth. iii. 54, ἀλλὰ κέρδει καὶ σοφία δέδεται ("but even science is in bonds to gain"), has immediate reference to Cheiron's art, yet with a side-glance at the poet's own, which is constantly denoted by σοφία. Pindar appears to regard the contemporary poet as one whose calling has been made distinctly professional by the circumstances ot his age,—by the struggle for existence, and the necessity of winning bread. On the other hand, he implicitly protests against the notion that, because it is professional, it must therefore be mercenary. The "songs with faces made fair by silver" are poems which owe their cold glitter of flattery or false sentiment to the promise of reward. Simonides was the elder contemporary of Pindar. We are reminded of the story in Aristotle's Rhetoric (iii. 2 § 14) that Simonides was once asked to write an ἐπινίκιον for a victory in the mule-car race, when, being dissatisfied with the sum offered, he declined to praise ἡμίονοι. But, the fee having been raised, he sang—χαίρετ', ἀελλοπόδων θύγατρες ἵππων. In Arist. Rhet. ii. 16 § 2, Simonides is quoted as saying to [ 77 ] the Syracusan Hiero's wife that it is better to be πλούσιος than σοφός: and his avarice is again a subject of allusion in Arist. Eth. N. iv. 2 ad fin., as well as in Aristophanes, Pax, 697 f. This illustration of Pindar's ἀοιδὴ ἀργυρωθεῖσα πρόσωπον might be further recommended by the fact that elsewhere he uses πρόσωπον figuratively of the front or opening of a poem. In Nem. viii. 37:—χρυσὸν εὔχονται, πεδίον δ' ἕτεροι | ἀπέραντον· ἐγὼ δ' ἀστοῖς ἀδὼν καὶ χθονὶ γυῖα καλύψαιμ', | αἰνέων αἰνητά, μομφὰν δ' ἐπισπείρων ἀλιτροῖς: "Some pray for gold and some for boundless land; mine be it to have pleased my folk e'en till I lay my limbs in earth, still praising things worthy of praise, but sowing censure for evil doers." It is, I venture to think, a mistaken cynicism which would regard this utterance as conventional. Rather may we believe that one of Pindar's distinctions among contemporary poets was just the desire to raise his art, by the free and earnest exercise of original genius, above the reproach of a sordid servility,—from which, as Aristotle shows, even such a man as Simonides was not exempt. We may infer this, not merely from detached texts, but from Pindar's poetry as a whole, and from the spirit which study can discern to be the animating and dominant influence. He claims that he is independent—giving praise only where it is due. Note, as illustrating this, a well-marked trait of the Odes—Pindar's insistence on the merit of the trainer or the charioteer, even where this might somewhat detract from the lustre of the victor for whom the [ 78 ] ode is written. Thus at Aegina, where there was a strong jealousy of Athens, he insists—though he shows his consciousness that the topic will not be popular—on doing justice to the Athenian trainer Melesias (Ol. viii. 54). He even can say that the trainer is to the victor as Achilles to Patroclus (Ol. xi. 19). He does not shrink from reproving the king of Cyrene for harshness to a kinsman, or the tyrant of Syracuse for listening to flatterers. He says of a successful boxer that he is ὀντὸς μὲν ἰδέσθαι, "mean to look upon" (Isthm. iii. 68), though συμπεσεῖν ἀκμᾷ βαρύς, "sore to meet in his strength." Pindar is not (to my thinking) deficient in tenderness; but he has too much truth of nature to be sentimental. "A son born in wedlock is dear to a father who is now moving on the path that wends away from youth; yea, it warmeth his soul with love; for when wealth is doomed to be the charge of an alien sought from without, 'tis most grievous to the dying" (Ol. xi. 86). Universally, Pindar's tone resembles nothing" less than that of a hireling encomiast or a courtly flatterer. Even towards the most illustrious of the victors, his attitude is invariably that of an equal, and of one who is privileged to teach, to exhort, and, if need be, to rebuke. We shall readily understand this if we remember the value, for his own day in Greece, of his threefold claim—Aegid descent, intimate relation with the worship of Apollo, and poetical genius.

§ 12. The task proposed to Pindar by those [ 79 ] forms of poetry which he cultivated may be described in his own words. It was—φόρμιγγά τε ποικιλόγαρυν καὶ βοὰν αὐλῶν ἐπέων τε θέσιν | συμμίξαι πρεπόντως: "meetly to blend the cithern's various voice, and the sounding flutes, and verses set thereto" (Ol. iii. 8). And so the teacher of the chorus, whose duty was to superintend the choral rehearsals of an ode, is called γλυκὺς κρατὴρ ἀγαφθέγκτων ἀοιδᾶν (Ol. vi. 91), one who "sweetly tempers resounding strains"; who sees that the flutes do not overpower the cithern, or either the words, but that the several elements are blended in a harmonious whole. Compare Ol. xiv. 17, Λυδίῳ γὰρ Ἀσώπιχον ἐν τρόπῳ | ἔν τε μελέταις ἀείδων ἔμολον: "I have come [to Orchomenus], hymning Asopichus in Lydian mood, by voices of ripe skill"; literally, "in the Lydian mood, and by aid of practisings": where ἐν Λυδίῳ τρόπῳ refers to the poet's composition, and ἐν μελέταις to the rehearsals of the chorus. This point is missed by translating μελέταις simply "strains"—a sense to which it surely cannot be reduced. We have some glimpses of the long technical development through which, before Pindar's day, Greek lyric poetry had passed; as in the reference to the improvement of the dithyramb (Ol. xiii. 18); to the πολυκέφαλος νόμος said to have been invented by Olympus or Crates (κεφαλᾶν πολλᾶν νόμον, Pyth. xii. 23); to the ὕμνου τεθμὸς Ὀλυμπιονίκας (Ol. vii. 88); and in the contrast between the καλλίνικος ὁ τριπλόος,—the so-called "song of Archilochus," with the [ 80 ] refrain τήνελλα καλλίνικε—and a more elaborate ode in praise of a victor (Ol. ix. i). Pindar's art demanded laborious studies in metre, in music, and in the adaptation of both to ὀρχηστική—the highly intricate systems of the choral dance. Tradition gives him several instructors—Scopelinus, Agathocles or Apollodorus, Lâsus of Hermione—not to mention the criticisms of Corinna. Good teaching, he says, can give a keener edge to native power (θήξαις κε φύντ' ἀρετᾷ, Ol. xi. 20). But, wherever he alludes to the poet's craft, he dwells on the distinction between acquired skill and the inborn gift. Ol. ii. 86:—σοφὸς ὁ πολλὰ εἰδὼς φυᾷ· ματόντες δὲ λάβροι | παγγλωσσίᾳ, κόρακες ὥς, ἄκραντα γαρύετον | Διὸς πρὸς ὄρνιχα θεῖον: "The bard is he whose mind is rich by nature's gift; men shaped by lore have sound and fury effecting nought; 'tis the chattering of crows against the godlike bird of Zeus." Ol. ix. 100:—τὸ δὲ φυᾷ κράτιστον ἅπαν· πολλοὶ δὲ διδακταῖς | ἀνθρώπων ἀρεταῖς κλέος | ὤρουσαν ἀρέσθαι | ἄνευ δὲ θεοῦ σεσιγαμένον | οὐ σκαιότερον χρῆμ' ἕκαστον· ἐντὶ γὰρ ἄλλαι | ὁδῶν ὁδοὶ περαίτεραι, | μία δ' οὐχ ἅπαντας ἄμμε θρέψει | μελέτα· σοφίαι μὲν | αἰπειναί: "Nature's gift is alway best; but many men have strained to win renown by feats whereto they had been schooled. Yet, where the god is not, a truer instinct ever counsels silence; paths are there beyond paths; one training will not form us all; the heights of art are steep." Nem. iii. 40:—συγγενεῖ δέ τις εὐδοξίᾳ μέγα βρίθει· | ὅς δὲ διδάκτ' ἔχει, ψεφηνὸς ἀνὴρ | ἄλλοτ' ἄλλα πνέων [ 81 ] οὔποτ' ἀτρεκέϊ | κατέβα ποδί, μυριᾶν δ' ἀρετᾶν ἀτελεῖ | νόῳ γεύεται. "Born with him is the power that makes a man's name great; but whoso hath the fruits of lore alone, he walks in a vain shadow; his spirit veers with every breeze; he never plants a sure foot in the lists; he dallies with ambitions numberless, but his mind achieves not one."

§ 13. The third Nemean cannot be dated; but another of the odes just quoted, the second Olympian (for Thero of Acragas) is of 476 B.C.; and in the second Pythian—of 477 B.C.—occurs the well-known passage in which Pindar warns Hiero of Syracuse against flatterers,—adding that those who seek to snatch an unfair start (στάθμας...ἑλκόμενοι περισσᾶς, v. 90) sometimes overreach themselves. It can scarcely be doubted that the emphatic contrast of poetical φυὴ and μάθησις has some personal reference. But I cannot believe that Simonides is the person intended. His avarice is probably (as suggested above) an object of Pindar's allusion elsewhere; but, so far as we can now judge, the work of Simonides bore a stamp so distinctive that it would have been unmeaning to speak of him as devoid of native faculty. In 476 B.C., however, Bacchylides, the nephew of Simonides, was still a young poet; about that time—the year is doubtful—he had written on a victory won at Olympia by a horse of Hiero's called Pherenicus—which (or a namesake) is mentioned in Pindar's first Olympian ode (472 B.C.); and he was probably rising into notice at the courts of the Sicilian princes, where [ 82 ] the established fame of Simonides would afford a favourable introduction. Now, one of the fragments of Bacchylides (Bergk, no. 17) runs:—ἕτερος ἐξ ἑτέρου σοφὸς τό πάλαι τό τε νῦν· | οὐδὲ γὰρ ῥᾷστον ἀρρήτων ἐπέων πύλας | ἐξευρεῖν: "bard follows bard [i.e. poet teaches poet by example]: for 'tis no light quest to find the gates of unattempted song" [to devise a thoroughly original strain]; where ἀρρήτων means,—not "unspeakable" (like Milton's "inexpressive" song),—but "unspoken," unsung before: cp. Soph. Antig. 556, ἀλλ' οὐκ ἐπ' ἀρρήτοις γε τοῖς ἐμοῖς λόγοις. This is the sentiment of one who viewed lyric poetry as a traditional art—as, indeed it was, and an art of elaborate method—without any strong consciousness of original genius. Nay, we should do no force to the words if we read in them an implied tribute from the nephew to the uncle who had been his master and his model. When Pindar depreciates the singer who is a mere pupil of others; when he says that "one training will not form us all," or lift the uninspired man to the heights of poetry; may he not be hinting that the young Bacchylides—a new competitor for Sicilian laurels—was only a feeble echo of Simonides? In an ode written for Hiero in 474 B.C. Pindar expresses the hope of "surpassing rivals" (ἀμεύσασθ' ἀντίους, Pyth. i. 45): he touches on the baneful power of envy and slander,—but adds, "yet forego not noble aims; 'tis better to be envied than pitied" (κρέσσων γὰρ οἰκτιρμοῦ φθόνος, ib. 85). The tone of this and other passages is (to my mind) [ 83 ] not that of a jealous man, but of one who is maintaining an attitude of defence against calumny; and it is difficult to resist the impression that, at this time, Pindar had been the object of some hostile intrigue at Hiero's court, which he associated with the desire of Simonides to advance the fortunes of a young kinsman more distinguished by diligence than by originality.

§ 14. Next, remark the distinctness with which Pindar claims, not only native faculty (φυή), but novelty of style and treatment. "Awake for them a strain of clear-toned verse; praise thou old wine, but newer flowers of song" (αἴνει δὲ παλαιὸν μὲν οἶνον, ἄνθεα δ' ὕμνων | νεωτέρων, Ol. ix. 48). The Muse stands by his side and inspires him to devise a strain "of glossy newness" (νεοσίγαλον εὑρόντι τρόπον, Ol. iii. 4). And in Ol. ix. 80 he clearly marks the qualities which he regards as peculiarly his own:—εἴην εὑρησιεπὴς ἀναγεῖσθαι | πρόσφορος ἐν Μοισᾶν δίφρῳ· | τόλμα δὲ καὶ ἀμφιλαφὴς δύναμις ἕσποιτο. "Mine be it to invent new strains, mine the skill to hold my course in the chariot of the Muses; and may courage go with me, and power of ample grasp." "If the theme ordained be praise of fortune high, or might of hand, or steel-clad war, ho, trace me a far line for my leap; I have light vigour in my limbs: yea, eagles whirl their flight beyond the deep" (Nem. v. 19). What were the principal traits in which Pindar's originality consisted? In so far as it resided in metrical novelties, in new adjustments [ 84 ] of metre to music and dancing, we have no longer any precise gauge for it, since we have no sufficiently large examples of contemporary work in the same kind. But there are at least some aspects of his work which we can more confidently recognize as original. One of these is his treatment of the heroic legends which he interwove with his celebration of victories. It may often be remarked that his claim of novelty is made as the immediate prelude to the introduction of such a legend. Thus in Ol. iii. 4—14 such a claim prefaces the story of Heracles having brought the Olympian olive from the land of the Hyperboreans; in Ol. ix. 49 it prepares the mention of the flood, with the mythical derivation of the Opuntian heroes from the λίθινος γόνος of Deucalion and Pyrrha; in Nem. v. 19 it leads up to the legend of the favours which the gods bestowed on the Aeacidae of old. Allusion to local or family myths must have been a familiar resource of the lyrical, as it was of the rhetorical, panegyrist. But we can well believe that no poet before Pindar had shown such boldness or such varied ingenuity in linking his immediate subject with mythical themes which were neither obvious nor trite. In cases such as those just mentioned, Pindar seems to be calling attention to the daring ease of his own transitions. Further, he does not merely introduce mythology as a background to the scene of the festivals, but often elaborates a particular episode so as to give it the separate value of a small but highly finished picture set [ 85 ] in the massive framework of the ode. Such a picture is the birth of Iamos (Ol. vi.); the vision of Bellerophon (Ol. xiii.); the rape of Cyrene (Pyth. ix.); the infant Heracles (Nem. i.); the death of Castor (Nem. x.); Heracles predicting the birth of Ajax (Isthm. v.). This mode of treatment I should conceive to have been one marked trait of Pindar's originality,—exhibiting his wide and complete command of epic material in a form shared by no other Greek lyrist. In saying this, I do not forget the exquisite Danae of Simonides; but that, apparently, was a piece complete in itself, not a gem adorning a larger piece on another subject. Pindar is fond of the phrase δαιδάλλειν: the image might well express his own manner of inlaying his odes with these mythical subjects.

The fourth Pythian ode is the largest and most brilliant example; it also illustrates with peculiar clearness Pindar's art of rapid transition from theme to myth, and from myth back to theme. The Muse is invoked to sing the victory of Arcesilas, king of Cyrene, at Delphi; where (ἔνθα, v. 4) that oracle was given which sent Battus, the founder of the dynasty, from Thera to colonise Cyrene: and (καί, v. 9) thus to fulfil the prophecy of Medea. "Now she spake thus (εἶπε δ' οὕτως) to the heroes who sailed with the warrior Jason"; and then the story of her prophecy is related (vv. 11—58). "Such were Medea's prophetic strains; with bowed heads, mute and motionless, the godlike heroes stood, as they hearkened to the rede of her wisdom." Here [ 86 ] the poet returns to Battus (v. 59). "Thee, happy son of Polymnestus, loyal to Medea's word, the oracle of the Delphic bee lifted to honour by a summons which thou hadst not sought,—who bade thee thrice hail, and declared thee Gyrene's destined king";—and from Battus the eighth in descent is Arcesilas, "on whom Apollo' and Pytho have bestowed glory of the chariot-race among all who dwell around. To the Muses will I give him for their theme, and the golden fleece of the ram; for 'twas in quest thereof that the Minyae had sailed, when heaven-sent honours were planted for his house": ἀπὸ δ' αὐτὸν Μοίσαισι δώσω | καὶ τὸ πάγχρυσον νάκος κριοῦ· μετὰ γὰρ | κεῖνο πλευσάντων Μινυᾶν θεόπομποί | σφισιν [i.e. for the Battiadae] τιμαὶ φύτευθεν. Note the bold simplicity of the transition here from Arcesilas, the immediate theme of the ode, to the myth of the Argonauts. Now, from v. 70 to v. 246, that myth is presented in a series of splendid pictures; the coming of Jason to Iolcus; the scene between Jason and Pelias; the sailing of the Argo; the ploughing with the brazen bulls of Aeetes. The slaying of the dragon which guarded the fleece, the flight of Medea with Jason, and his triumphant return, were subjects which Pindar could have treated with equal splendour, and which a less daring poet might even have regarded as forming the indispensable climax. But at this point a constraining sense of καιρός makes Pindar feel that he must return from myth to theme,—from Jason to Arcesilas; and observe how he manages [ 87 ] it. (v. 247.) μακρά μοι νεῖσθαι κατ' ἀμαξιτόν· ὥρα γὰρ συνάπτει· | καί τινα οἶμον ἴσαμι βραχύν· πολλοῖσι δ' ἅγημαι σοφίας ἑτέροις. | κτεῖνε μὲν γλαυκῶπα τέχναις ποικιλόνωτον ὄφιν, | ὦ 'ρκεσίλα, κ.τ.λ. "'Tis far for me to fare along the well-worn track; time urges; yea, and I know a speedy path; to many have I shown the ways of song. The speckled dragon with the glaring eyes he slew, Arcesilas, by wiles...." Remark the skill of the abrupt vocative, which at once turns our thoughts back to the primary theme. A few rapid verses now carry us from Colchis to Lemnos—where the Argonaut Euphemus begat the ancestry of Battus—and from Lemnos to Cyrene, the realm committed by Apollo to "the upright counsels" of the dynasty which Arcesilas represents. This directly leads to a criticism—veiled in the beautiful allegory of the oak—on the sentence by which Arcesilas has lopped a goodly branch from the tree of the Cyrenean State; and the ode concludes with a noble and touching plea for Damophilus, the banished kinsman of the prince.

It is interesting to note the connection of the words quoted above—πολλοῖσι δ' ἅγημαι σοφίας ἑτέροις. He is cutting short an epic narrative in a fashion altogether his own. The οἶμος βραχύς which he claims to know is the art of swift passage from myth back to theme; and he says that he can exercise this art with confident tact, being, in truth, the leader who has shown lyric poets how mythical ornament may be a source of endless variety and [ 88 ] novelty in the handling of contemporary topics. The fourth Pythian ode forcibly exemplifies the δύναμις ἀμφιλαφής (Ol. ix. 80), the "power of ample grasp," to which, as we saw, he aspires; and also the meaning of ἀναγεῖσθαι ἐν Μοισᾶν δίφρῳ (ib.)—"to hold the onward course" of a continuous epic recital.

§ 15. Pindar's language has a character distinct from that of every other Greek poet known to us. A comparison with the lyric parts of tragedy serves only to bring out this distinction more clearly. The modern reader finds this language, for the most part, exceedingly difficult and obscure; even when he is familiar with it, it still taxes the attention. The ultimate source of this difficulty is the continual demand on the imagination; and I believe that ease in reading Pindar can in large measure be attained by a clear perception of certain general forms in which his thought tends to clothe itself. It is with the view of illustrating these forms that I give the following notes—as contributions to the outline of an analysis which the student can develop for himself.

Metaphor is not reserved for occasional ornament, but is habitually used for the translation of common thoughts or phrases. "Having passed out of the ranks of youths," ἐξελθὼν ἐφήβων, becomes with Pindar, συλαθεὶς ἀγενείων (Ol. ix. 89), "reft from the beardless company." "He is deprived of joy," ἀπεστέρηται εὐφροσύνης, becomes "he is in banishment from joy," εὐφροσύνας ἀλᾶται (Ol. i. 58). [ 89 ] "It is near to madness," ἐγγύς ἐστι μανιῶν, becomes μανίαισιν ὑποκρέκει (Ol. ix. 39), "it sounds a note attuned to frenzy,"—a phrase suggested by the common συνᾴδει, "is accordant with." "Deep desire of pursuing" (various ambitions,—including victory in the games) is βαθεῖα μέριμνα ἀγροτέρα (Ol. ii. 54), "deep desire of the chase," where ἀγροτέρα is a bold figure for τοῦ διώκειν. "The lyre bestows fame," is λύρα ἀναπάσσει χάριν (Ol. xi. 93),—"sprinkles grace,"—like flowers. A cloak is "a warm remedy for winds," εὐδιανὸν φάρμακον αὐρᾶν (Ol. ix. 97). A bridle is a "soothing spell," or " charm," for a horse: φάρμακον πραΰ, φίλτρον ἵππειον (Ol. xiii. 85, 68). An anchor is "swift Argo's bridle," θοᾶς Ἀργοῦς χαλινός (Pyth. iv. 25). "To send a shout along the line," is not παραπέμπειν, but παραιθύσσειν θόρυβον (Ol. xi. 72), "to send it rippling along." "To raise one's prosperity," not αἴρειν, but πέμπειν ἀνεκὰς ὄλβον (Ol. ii. 21,—where the metaphor may be from a wheel). "To be in the decline of life" is ἵκειν νεότατος τὸ πάλιν ἤδη (Ol. xi. 87), "to be moving now in the opposite direction from youth": contrast the ἕρπουσαν πρόσω ἥβην of Sophocles. "He has his share in offerings to the dead," μέμικται ἐν αἱμακουρίαις (Ol. i. 90). "It enables one to judge of it," δίδωσιν ἔλεγχον περὶ ἑαυτῆς, becomes διδοῖ ψᾶφον περ' αὑτᾶς (Pyth. iv. 265). "The thunderbolt, that hath part in every victory of Zeus," is expressed by the strangely bold ἐν ἅπαντι κράτει κεραυνὸν ἀραρότα (Ol. xi. 82). To enjoy, or cherish, happiness,—ὄλβον ἄρδειν [ 90 ] (Ol. v. 23), where the metaphor is from watering a garden. To hold themes in reserve, τὰ μὲν ἡμετέρα γλῶσσα ποιμαίνειν ἐθέλει )(Ol. x. 9). To show pleasure at good news (said of friends), σαίνειν ποτὶ γλυκεῖαν ἀγγελίαν (Ol. iv. 5). To pass through life prosperously, κούφοισιν ἐκνεῦσαι ποσίν (Ol. xiii. 114). Grief is more than compensated by blessings, πένθος πιτνεῖ κρεσσόνων ἐκνεῦσαι ποσίν (Ol. ii. 23).

§ 16. Images for the highest excellence are drawn from the furthest limits of travel and navigation, or from the fairest of natural objects. Pindar delights in what may be called the imagery of the superlative. Thus, of consummate good fortune (in the games, &c.):—ἅπτεται οἰκόθεν Ἡρακλέος σταλᾶν: "in his own strength he touches the Pillars of Hercules." Γαδείρων τὸ πρὸς ζόφον οὐ περατόν· ἀπότρεπε | αὖτις Εὐρώπαν ποτὶ χέρσον ἔντεα ναός (Nem. iv. 70), "none may pass beyond Gadeira into the gloom of the West: to Europa's land turn back the tackle of our ship." περαίνει πρὸς ἔσχατον | πλόον· ναυσὶ δ' οὔτε πεζὸς ἰὼν ἂν εὕροις | ἐς Ὑπερβορέων ἀγῶνα θαυματὰν ὁδόν (Pyth. x. 30): "he fares as far as man may sail: not by sea or land couldst thou find the wondrous way to the gathering of the folk that dwell beyond the Northern Wind." ἐσχατιὰς ἤδη πρὸς ὄλβου | βάλλετ' ἄγκυραν θεότιμος ἐών (Isthm. vi. 11): "now at the limits of bliss he casts his anchor, having glory from the gods." The supreme hospitality of a man who kept open house all the year round is thus figured: ἐπέρα ποτὶ μὲν Φᾶσιν θερείαις, | ἐν δὲ χειμῶνι πλέων [ 91 ] Νείλου πρὸς ἀκτάς (Isthm. ii. 42): "far as to Phasis was his voyage in summer days, and in winter to the shores of Nile." Such imagery is of peculiar interest as recalling the wide area of Greek colonisation in Pindar's time, and the impulse with which commerce was carrying Greek sailors to the bounds of the known earth, still bordered by a region of wonder and fable to the west and the north of the Mediterranean. Again, a victor's merits are countless as the sand:—ψάμμος ἀριθμὸν περιπέφευγεν (Ol. ii. 98): Olympia is "the crown" of festivals—κορυφὰ ἀέθλων—where the image is from a mountain-peak: or the flower, ἄωτος: it is excellent as water,—bright as that gold which shines among all possessions as a fire by night,—brilliant as the sun in the noonday sky (Ol. i. ad init.).

§ 17. Pindar's figurative language often seems to invert the natural mode of expression: as ἀκέρδεια λέλογχεν θαμινὰ κακαγόρος (i.e. κακαγόρος), Ol. i. 53: "misfortune hath oft marked slanderers for her own," instead of κακαγόροι λελόγχασιν ἀκέρδειαν. So ἤδη με γηραιὸν μέρος ἁλικίας ἀμφιπολεῖ (Pyth. iv. 157), "the evening of life is already closing around my path." ἱερὸν ἔσχον οἴκημα ποταμοῦ, Σικελίας τ' ἔσαν | ὀφθαλμός, αἰών τ' ἔφεπε μόρσιμος (Ol. ii. 9), "they won the sacred home beside the river, and were the light of Sicily, and life went with them to man's due term"—i.e. they were not cut off by premature deaths. λαγέτας ἕξ, ἀρεταῖσι μεμαλότας υἱούς (Ol. i. 89), "chieftains six, sons dear to chivalry." ὔμμε δ' ἐκλάρωσεν πότμος | Ζηνὶ [ 92 ] γενεθλίῳ (Ol. viii. 15), "Destiny hath given you for his own to Zeus, your fathers' god": i.e. you are under his peculiar care. ἔδωκ' Ἀπόλλων θῆρας αἰνῷ φόβῳ (Pyth. v. 60), "Apollo made the fierce beasts a prey to terror." κράτει προσέμιξε δεσπόταν (Ol. i. 22), "he brought his master to the goal of victory." It will be seen that the distinctive character of such expressions depends on a personification, not express, but implied; or (as in the last instance) on the conception of an abstract idea—such as κράτος—in the form of a concrete object, such as a goal (or perhaps a person) awaiting the runner at the end of the race-course.

§ 18. Pindar is especially fertile in similitudes for poetical effort. The most striking class of such effort, images is that derived from the contests of the festivals. Thus:—(i) javelin-throwing. αἰνῆσαι μενοινῶν ἔλπομαι | μὴ χαλκοπάρᾳον ἄκονθ' ὡσείτ' ἀγῶνος βαλεῖν ἔξω παλάμᾳ δονέων (Pyth. i. 43), "fain to praise, I have hope not to go wide of due aim, when I hurl the javelin, bronze-armed, that quivers in mine hand." (ii) The chariot-race. ὦ Φίντις, ἀλλὰ ξεῦξον ἤδη μοι σθένος ἡμιόνων . . . χρὴ τοίνυν πύλας ὕμνων ἀναπιτνάμεν αὐταῖς (Ol. vi. 27). Phintis was the charioteer who had gained the victory. Characteristically Pindaric is the identification of the actual chariot with the chariot of song in which the poet is to be borne:—"Ho, Phintis, yoke for me the strength of thy mules, that we may urge our chariot in swift and free career, till I come e'en to the lineage of the race (the victor's ancestry); [ 93 ] they, best of all, know how to lead us on this path, since they have won crowns at Olympia; therefore must the gates of song be thrown wide at their coming." (iii) The leap. μακρὰ δὴ αὐτόθεν ἅλμαθ' ὑποσκάπτοι τις· ἔχω γονάτων ἐλαφρὸν ὁρμάν (Nem. v. 19)—noticed above. Other images occur which, though not taken from the games, are similar. The song is often compared to an arrow: πολλά μοι ὑπ' ἀγκῶνος ὠκέα βέλη | ἔνδον ἐντὶ φαρέτρας φωνᾶντα συνετοῖσιν· . . . . ἔπεχε νυν σκοπῷ τόξον. ἄγε, θυμέ, τίνα βάλλομεν | ἐκ μαλθακᾶς αὖτε φρενὸς εὐκλέας ὀιστοὺς ἱέντες (Ol. ii. 83); "many swift arrows are there in the quiver beneath my arm, shafts with a message for the wise. . . . . Bend now thy bow against the mark. Say, whom are we to strike, my soul, when once again from gentle fantasy we send the arrows of glorious song?" Notice the "confusion of metaphor"—as we should call it—in βέλη φωνᾶντα, εὐκλέας ὀιστούς, &c. A remarkably bold use of the arrow metaphor occurs in Ol. ix. 5, Μοισᾶν ἀπὸ τόξων | Δία τε φοινικοστερόπαν σεμνόν τ' ἐπίνειμαι ἀκρωτήριον Ἅλιδος | τοιοῖσθε βέλεσσιν: "enter on the theme of Zeus, who sends the lightning's glare, enter on the holy mount of Elis [the Κρόνιον] with such shafts from the Muses' bow." Again, the poet's tidings bear the victor's fame "swifter than gallant steed or winged ship"—καὶ ἀγάνορος ἵππου | θᾶσσον καὶ ναὸς ὑποπτέρου (Ol. ix. 23). The poet is as one who sets forth on a voyage of happy promise: εὐανθέα δ' ἀναβάσομαι στόλον ἀμφ' ἀρετᾷ κελαδέων (Pyth. ii. 62): "Sounding the praise of valour, I [ 94 ] will mount the flower-crowned prow." Another place where the same image occurs affords a striking example of two incongruous metaphors brought close together:—κώπαν σχάσον, ταχὺ δ' ἄγκυραν ἔρεισον χθονὶ | πρῴραθε, χοιράδος ἄλκαρ πέτρας. | ἐγκωμίων γὰρ ἄωτος ὕμνων | ἐπ' ἄλλοτ' ὧτε μέλισσα θύνει λόγον (Pyth. x. 51): "stay the oar; let the anchor from the prow quickly grip the earth, that we strike not on a sunken reef; for the bright wing of the songs of praise is darting like a bee from flower to flower." The poet's province is "the choice garden of the Graces" (ἐξαίρετον χαρίτων νέμομαι κᾶπον, Ol. ix. 27); he tills the field of Aphrodite or the Graces (Ἀφροδίτας ἄρουραν ἢ Χαρίτων ἀναπολίζομεν, Pyth. vi. i). An image for a digression is suggested by those "Branching Roads"—the σχιστὴ ὁδός near Daulis in Phocis—which Pindar must so often have passed on his way from Thebes to Delphi: ἦ ῥ, ὦ φίλοι, κατ' ἀμευσίπορον τρίοδον ἐδινάθην, ορθὰν κέλευθον ἰὼν τοπίν (Pyth. xi. 38): "verily, friends, I have lost my bearings at such a meeting of three roads as leadeth men to change their course, though before I was wending on a straight path":—where ἐδινάθην seems to suggest the idea of turning quickly round and round until one no longer knows the points of the compass. The thought which inspires a strain is compared to the whetstone which sharpens the knife,—and here, again, note the mixture of metaphors: δόξαν ἔχω τιν' ἐπὶ γλώσσᾳ ἀκόνας λιγυρᾶς, | ἅ μ' ἐθέλοντα προσέρπεικαλλιρόοισι πνοαῖς (Ol. vi. 82): "I have [ 95 ] a thought upon my lips that lends keen motive to my song; it woos my willing soul with the spirit of fair-flowing strains." The image of the whetstone recurs in Isthm. v. 72: φαιης κέ νιν ἀνδράσιν ἀθληταῖσιν ἔμμεν | Ναξίαν πέτραις ἐν ἄλλαις χαλκοδάμαντ' ἀκόναν: "well mightest thou say, such is he among athletes as the stone of Naxos among stones, the grinding whet that gives an edge to bronze."

With regard to this metaphor, as to many others in Greek lyrics which are apt to strike us as harsh or even grotesque, there is a general principle which ought, I think, to be clearly perceived. Most Indo-European nouns expressed some one obvious and characteristic quality of the object which they denoted: e.g. ναῦς is "the swimmer," δρῦς, "the thing which is cleft," &c. Similarly, ἀκόνη is the sharpener, κρατήρ is the mixer, &c. A Greek who called a thought an ἀκόνη was thus using a less startling image than we should use in calling it a whetstone; to call the teacher of a chorus a κρατήρ was not the same thing as it would be for us to call him a bowl. And such phrases are less audacious in proportion as they are old,—i.e. near to the time when the language was still freshly conscious of the primary sense in such words as ἀκόνη.

§ 19. The range of Pindar's comparisons for his own art would not have been completely surveyed if we overlooked some of a more familiar or even homely kind. Poets are "the cunning builders" of song (τέκτονες οἷα σοφοὶ ἅρμοσαν, Pyth. iii. 1 13). [ 96 ] An ode is sent over the sea "like Phoenician merchandise" (κατὰ Φοίνισσαν ἐμπολάν, Pyth. ii. 67). The poet's mind is a register of promised songs, in which a particular debt can be searched out: ἀνάγνωτέ μοι | Ἀρχεστράτου παῖδα, πόθι φρενὸς ἐμᾶς γέγραπται· "read me where the son of Archestratus [an Olympian victor] is written in my memory" (Ol. xi. 1). Ample praise, long deferred, is τόκος, payment with interest (ib. 9). The trainer who faithfully conveys the poet's thoughts to the chorus is ἄγγελος ὀρθός, ἠϋκόμων σκυτάλα Μοισᾶν (Ol. vi. 91), "an upright envoy, interpreter from man to man of the Muses with the beauteous hair": the point of σκυτάλη being that the message would not be intelligible if carried by one who was not in exact possession of Pindar's ideas. The cithern is invoked as Ἀπόλλωνος καὶ ἰοπλοκάμων | σύνδικον Μοισᾶν κτέανον (Pyth. i. 1), "witness for Apollo and the Muses with violet locks, whose thou art": cp. Ol. ix. 98, σύνδικος αὐτῷ Ἰολάου | τύμβος εἰναλία τ' Ἐλευσὶς ἀγλαΐαισιν, "the tomb of lolaus [at Thebes] and Eleusis by the sea is witness to his glories."

In other connections also Pindar can use homely images, which link his lofty style with the idiom and proverbial philosophy of daily life. Thus:—ἴστω γὰρ ἐν τούτῳ πεδίλῳ δαιμόνιον πόδ' ἔχων | Σωστράτου υἱός (Ol. vi, 8); "yea, let the son of Sostratus know that in this sandal he hath his foot, by grace divine": i.e. stands in this case. One recalls the famous σὺ μὲν ἔρραψας τοῦτο τὸ ὑπόδημα, [ 97 ] Ἀρισταγόρας δὲ ὑπεδύσατο. (Her. vi. i). Then, of bearing adversity:—τὰ μὲν ὦν οὐ δὐνανται νήπιοι κόσμῳ φέρειν, | ἀλλ' ἀγαθοί, τὰ καλὰ τρέψαντεσ ἔξω (Pyth. iii. 83): "now the foolish cannot bear ills in seemly wise, but the noble can, when they have turned the fair side outward," i.e. brave men in misfortune show a cheerful front to the world, and conceal the seamy side of their fortune. The process of dyeing or staining suggests οὐ ψεύδεϊ τέγξω λόγον (Ol. iv. 17). An inglorious youth is likened to the ἐνδομάχας ἀλέκτωρ (Ol. xii. 14), "the chanticleer who fights at home." In Ol. xi. 37, we read of a city βαθὺν εἰς ὀχετὸν ἄτας | ἴζοισαν,—"settling into the deep bed of ruin"—a singularly vivid image from the action of running water on the basements of buildings. The idea of wiping off a stain, rather than that of transferring a burden, seems to have suggested the extraordinarily bold imagery of Ol. viii. 68, ἐν τέτρασιν παίδων ἀπεθήκατο γυίοις | νόστον ἔχθιστον καὶ ἀτιμοτέραν γλῶσσαν καὶ ἐπίδρυφον οἶμον: "On the bodies of four youths hath he put off from him the doom of joyless return, and slighted voice, and furtive path." The ἐξομόργνυσθαι μωρίαν τινί of Euripides is tame in comparison with this,—which surely no Greek but Pindar could have written.

§ 20. The natural order of words is sometimes deranged in a way which can be explained only by the exacting requirements of the intricate metres. Thus Ol. viii. 5, μαιομένων μεγάλαν | ἀρετὰν θυμῷ λαβεῖν, means "yearning in heart to achieve great [ 98 ] prowess," not "yearning to seize great prowess in their thoughts," to conceive it. In Ol. iv. i, τεαὶ γὰρ ὧραι | ὑπὸ ποικιλοφόρμιγγος ἀοιδᾶς ἑλισσόμεναί μ' ἔπεμψαν, the sense is: "thy seasons, as they come round, have sent me with the cithern's varied strains." In Pyth. iv. 24, ἄγκυραν ποτὶ χαλκόγενυν | ναῒ κρημνάντων, "hanging the anchor of biting bronze to the ship," the place of ποτὶ is very harsh. In the same ode, 214, ποικίλαν ἴϋγγα τετράκναμον Οὐλυμπόθεν | ἐν ἀλύτῳ ζεύξαισα κύκλῳ | μαινάδ' ὄρνιν Κυπρογένεια φέρεν | πρῶτον ἀνθρώποισι, the whole order is strangely involved: "The Cyprus-born queen first brought from Olympus to men the speckled wry-neck, the maddening bird, when she had bound it fast upon a four-spoked wheel." In v. 106, ἀρχαίαν κομίζον . . . τιμάν, the last word is separated by three lines from the former. A very strong instance is Isthm. iii. 36, μετὰ χειμέριον ποικίλων μηνῶν ζόφον χθὼν ὧτε φοινικέοισιν ἄνθησεν ῥόδοις, "as, after the gloom of winter, the earth blossoms with the red roses of the many-coloured months,"—where the position of ποικίλων μηνῶν between χειμέριον and ζόφον is one for which it would be hard to find a parallel.

§ 21. Apart from such dislocations, Pindar's syntax is rarely difficult. I would note the following points: (i) Co-ordination of clauses (parataxis) is preferred to subordination (hypotaxis),—an epic feature of which the peculiarly Pindaric form is concerned with the introduction of a simile: as in Ol. i. 3, εἰ δ' ἄεθλα γαρύεν | ἔλδεαι,...μηκέτ' ἀελίου [ 99 ] σκόπει | ἄλλο θαλπνότερον...ἄστρον,...μηδ' | Ὀλυμπίας ἀγῶνα φέρτερον αὐδάσομεν, instead of saying, ὥσπερ οὐκ ἂν σκοποῖς, οὕτω μηδ' αὐδήσωμεν. Cp. Ol. ii. 98. (2) The so-called σχῆμα Πινδαρικόν or Βοιωτικόν (singular verb with plural subject) occurs in Ol. x. 5, (τέλλεται,—where, as Fennell suggests, it would be much softened if we read ἀρχή,) in Pyth. x. 71 (κεῖται: where W. Christ gives κεῖνται); frag. 53, 15 (βάλλεται...φόβαι, ἀχεῖταί τ' ὀμφαί). Similarly the grammarians gave the name of Ἀλκμανικὸν σχῆμα to such a structure as Odyssey x. 513, Πυριφλεγέθων τε ῥέουσιν | Κώκυτός τε. (3) Zeugma. Ol. i. 88, ἕλεν δ' Οἰνομάου βίαν πάρθενόν τε σύνευνον: "he overcame mighty Oenomaus, and won the maiden for his bride." Pyth. i. 40, ἐθελήσαις ταῦτα νόῳ τιθέμεν εὔανδρόν τε χώραν, "deign to lay these prayers to thy heart, and to make the land happy in her sons." (4) Cases. (i) Genitive where dative would be usual: Pyth. iii. 5, νόον ἔχοντ' ἀνδρῶν φίλον, "kindly to men." Ol. vii. 90, ὕβριος ἐχθρὰν ὁδὸν | εὐθυπορεῖ, "he walks in the straight way that abhors insolence." (ii) Dative where genitive would be usual: Pyth. v. 58, ὄφρα μὴ ταμίᾳ Κυράνας ἀτελὴς γένοιτο μαντεύμασιν, "that he might not fail to fulfil his oracles to Cyrene's lord" (instead of μαντευμάτων). Pyth. iv. 296, ἀσυχίᾳ θιγέμεν, and elsewhere, (iii) Accusative after πονεῖν as = "to trouble": Pyth. iv. 151, οὐ πονεῖ με ταῦτα. In v. 36, οὐδ' ἀπίθησέ νιν, W. Christ reads Ϝιν ( = οἱ) with Hermann. (5) Prepositions. Ol. v. 6, ὑπὸ βουθυσίαις (ἑγέραρεν), "honoured by" (dative for genitive): [ 100 ] conversely, Ol. xi. 30, δοκεύσαις ὑπὸ Κλεωνᾶν, "under" (genitive for dative); Pyth. iii. 60, γνόντα τὸ πὰρ ποδός, "aware what lies before him," not strictly equivalent to the common παρὰ πόδα (by the foot), but rather denoting that which will be met at the next step forward. Pyth. v. 54, περὶ δείματι φύγον, "for terror," prae timore (so Aeschylus, Cho. 32, περὶ τάρβει). Ol. iii. 31, πνοιαῖς ὄπιθεν, "behind the blasts": Ol. vii. 18, πέλας ἐμβόλῳ. Pyth. ii. 11, ἐν ἅρματα, Aeolic for εἰς, and elsewhere. (6) κεν with future infinitive: Ol. i. 109, γλυκυτέραν κεν ἔλπομαι κλεΐξειν. (7) Optative without ἄν in abstract supposition: Ol. iii. 45, οὔ μιν διώξω· κεινὸς εἴην. Pyth. iv, 118, οὐ ξείναν ἱκοίμαν γαῖαν. Ol. x. 20, ἐμφυὲς οὔτ' αἴθων ἀλώπηξ οὔτ' ἐρίβρομοι λέοντες διαλλάξαιντο ἦμος. (8) The active sense of the epithet may be noted in καθαρὸς λέβης, "vessel of cleansing" (Ol. i. 26), φρίσσοντες ὄμβροι, "chilling rains" (Pyth. iv. 81), μαινὰς ὄρνις (216), "bird that maddens."

The number of words peculiar to Pindar is large in proportion to the volume of his extant work. In several, as ἀλεξίμβροτος, ἐναρίμβροτος μελησίμβροτος ὀπισθόμβροτος, πλειστόμβροτος, ἀλιτόξενος, ἀρχεδικᾶν, καταφυλλοροεῖν, we can see how dactylic metre (especially in its Pindaric combinations) stimulated the formation of new compounds.

§ 22. The spirit of art, in every form, is represented for Pindar by χάρις—"the source of all delights to mortals" (ἅπερ ἅπαντα τεύχει τὰ μείλιχα θνατοῖς, Ol. i. 30)—or by the personified Charites. While Sparta knew only two Graces (Κλήτα and [ 101 ] Φαεννά),—as Athens, again, had but two (Αὐξώ and Ἡγεμόνη),—it was the Boeotian Orchomenus, near the Theban poet's home, which possessed an ancient worship of three sisters, Εὐφροσύνη, Ἀγλαΐα, Θαλία (Paus. ix. 35). "Illustrious queens of bright Orchomenus, who watch over the old Minyan folk, hear me, ye Graces, when I pray! For by your help come all things glad and sweet to mortals, whether wisdom is given to any man, or beauty, or renown. Yea, the gods ordain not dance or feast apart from the majesty of the Graces; the Graces control all things wrought in heaven; they have set their throne beside Pythian Apollo of the golden bow; they adore the everlasting godhead of the Olympian father" (Ol. xiv. 3). When Pindar compares the brightening fortunes of a victor's house to "the fulness of spring with its bright blossoms" (φοινικανθέμου ἦρος ἀκμᾷ, Pyth. iv. 64), to the earth, "after winter's gloom, blossoming with the red roses of the many-coloured months" (Isthm. iii. 36), we remember that the Charites were often represented as young maidens decking themselves with early flowers; the rose, in particular, was sacred to the Charites as well as to Aphrodite[44]. In Pindar's mind, as in that old Greek conception from which the worship of the Charites sprang, the instinct of beautiful art was one with the sense of natural beauty. It is interesting to consider the relation of Pindar's poetry to other contemporary forms of Greek art, especially to that which, in his latter [ 102 ] days, was drawing near to ripe perfection, the art of sculpture.

§ 23. The period of Pindar's activity (502 to 452 B.C.) coincides with the close of that period in Greek sculpture which immediately preceded the culmination of the art under Pheidias. To take Overbeck's broad division, we have:—(i) The early age, to 460 B.C.; its second period being from about 540 to 460: (2) The age of maturity, 460 to 300 B.C.; its second period being from about 396 to 300. From a slightly different point of view, we might close the archaic age at 500 B.C., and regard 500 to 460 B.C. as a distinct period, that in which the schools of Argos, Sicyon, and Aegina were effecting the transition from archaic types. And this is precisely the age to which most of Pindar's extant odes belong.

The central link between Pindar's poetry and Greek sculpture is Olympia. The earliest Greek plastic art was directly and exclusively the handmaid of religion: the god and the demigod were considered the only proper subjects for its exercise. But as the glory of the Olympian festival grew, as the worship of the Olympian Zeus became more and more a national bond among all Hellenes, an Olympian victor was raised to a rank so eminent that it seemed no longer irreverent to pay him an honour similar to that which was rendered to ἡμίθεοι: especially as this honour was in some sort rendered, not merely to the man, but also to the gods and demigods of Oiympia. Hence, in the course of the sixth century B.C., sculpture was already [ 103 ] finding a new field in the commemoration of athletes. And this work, while still prompted by the best inspirations of Greek religion, was so far secular as to relax those hieratic bonds in which the art of Egypt had remained bound. A pancratiast named Arrachion, victorious at Olympia in Ol. 50 (564 B.C.), was commemorated by a stone statue which Pausanias mentions (viii. 40, 1) as of archaic type (σχῆμα), and which seems to have been of the same general character as the Apollo of Tenea now at Munich[45]. Praxidamas, a boxer of Aegina (544 B.C.), and Rhexibius of Opus (536 B.C.), were commemorated by statues in wood. Earlier still (about 580 B.C.) the Argives had dedicated at Delphi portrait-statues (εἰκόνες, Her. i. 31) of Cleobis and Biton, on account of their eminent piety (ὡς ἀνδρῶν ἀρίστων). About 520 B.C. Entelidas and Chrysothemis, sculptors of the Argive school, wrought statues of two Olympian victors, Demarchus and Theopompus.

§ 24. Pindar, in a striking passage, recognizes Sculpture and Poetry as sister arts employed in the commemoration of the athlete's fame, and contrasts the immobility of the statue with the wide diffusion of the poem (Nem. v. i); οὐκ ἀνδριαντοποιός εἰμ', | ὥστ' ἐλινύσοντά μ' ἐργάζεσθαι ἀγάλματ' ἐπ' αὐτᾶς βαθμίδος | ἑσταότ', ἀλλ' ἐπὶ πάσας ὁλκάδος ἔν τ' ἀκάτῳ, γλυκεῖ' ἀοιδά, | στεῖχ' ἀπ' Αἰγίνας. "No sculptor I, to fashion images that shall stand idly on one pedestal for aye: no, go thou forth from [ 104 ] Aegina, sweet song of mine, on every freighted ship, on each light bark." In Pindar's frequent insistence on the supreme value of song as the record of great deeds we can sometimes feel a tacit reference to the art with which here he openly contrasts his own. Such princes as the Syracusan Hiero were patrons alike of poet and of sculptor. Without imagining any rivalry in a jealous or sordid sense, we can understand how a poet, conscious that his work possessed the secret of unfading youth, should have been impelled to claim for it a permanence so much less obvious to the many in his own day than that of the marbles which seemed to have made the victory immortal. The marble has too often perished; the song—the breath of an hour, as the hearers may have thought it—attests for us the truth of Pindar's claim, ῥῆμα ἐργμάτων χρονιώτερον βιοτεύει. Within his lifetime, the school of Argos was represented by Ageladas, the master of Myron, Polycleitus, and Pheidias. Among the works of Ageladas, Olympia possessed a chariot-group commemorating the victory of Cleisthenes of Epidamnus in 517 B.C., besides two statues of athletes. At Olympia were Myron's Discobolus, his statue of the runner Ladas (who expired in the moment of victory), of the Lacedaemonian Chion, of a boy-boxer, of a pancratiast, and of a victor in the chariot-race. Myron, though of the Argive school, was a native of Eleutherae in Boeotia, and helps to illustrate Pindar's exulting refutation of the proverbial Βοιωτίαν ὗν (Ol. vi. 90). Canachus, of the [ 105 ] school of Sicyon, wrought a group of boys riding race-horses, and thus belongs to the list of sculptors contemporary with Pindar who took subjects from the games.

§ 25. But the school of Aegina is that of which we naturally think first in connection with Pindar. Of his extant epinicia, Sicily claims 15; the Epizephyrian Locrians, 2; Cyrene, 3; the mainland of Greece, 13, of which 4 are for Thebes; Aegina, 11. In the island which was so fertile of athletes, the sculptors of Pindar's day had begun to take as their model an ideal athlete, of a type characterised by spareness of form, showing the bones at knee-joints, in chest and ribs, with the legs rather too long and the arms too short; whence the "Aeginetan" manner means for Pausanias "archaic" as distinguished from "Attic" or mature art[46]. The temple of Athene at Aegina had groups of sculpture on both pediments,—the east (which was the front), and the west. The Aeginetan marbles at Munich are statues which formed parts of these groups. Their date falls within Pindar's lifetime. The subject of the east pediment (it is unnecessary to enter on controverted details of restoration) was that war against Laomedon in which Heracles was helped by Telamon. The subject of the west pediment was one probably connected with the death of Patroclus, and the chief figure was Ajax, son of Telamon. All through Pindar's odes for Aeginetan victors the dominant mythical theme is fitly the glory of the Aeacidae, [ 106 ] Telamon, Ajax, Peleus, Achilles. In the fifth Isthmian ode, Pindar gives a most brilliant treatment to the initial episode of the very theme which occupied the east pediment of the temple at Aegina,—Heracles coming to seek the aid of Telamon against Troy, when Telamon gave his guest "a wine-cup rough with gold," and Heracles prophesied the birth and the prowess of Ajax. Here then, is a case in which we can conceive that the poet's immediate theme may have occurred to his mind as he gazed on the sculptor's work in the splendid entablature of the temple; and we recall Pindar's own comparison of an opening song to the front of a stately building—ἀρχομένον δ' ἔργου χρὴ πρόσωπον θέμεν τηλαυγές.

The contrast in style between the work on the western and eastern pediments at Aegina would correspond with the difference between the older, stiffer school of Gallon and that fresher impulse which in Pindar's day was represented at Aegina by Onatas. If Onatas had indeed a chief hand in the eastern pediment, then the praise of the Aeacidae associated Onatas and Pindar at Aegina as the praise of Hiero's victory in the chariot-race—which Onatas commemorated by a group—associated them at Olympia. Bronze race-horses, one of which, with a boy-rider, stood on each side of the chariot wrought by Onatas, were the work of Calamis, who represents Athenian art just before it reached its greatest perfection under Pheidias. It was Calamis whom Pindar chose to Calamis. execute a statue which he dedicated at Thebes. The subject was Zeus Ammon, whom Pindar may have [ 107 ] specially venerated on account of the connection of his own ancestry, the Aegeidae, with Cyrene, which he describes as founded Διὸς ἐν Ἄμμωνος θεμέθλοις, "on the ground where Zeus Ammon hath his seat,"—i.e. near the oasis and temple (Pyth. iv. 16). A lost hymn by Pindar began, Ἄμμων Ὀλύμπου δέσποτα (frag. 11). The statue and shrine of Cybele, also dedicated by Pindar at Thebes, are ascribed to the Theban artists, Aristomedes and Socrates. These, with another of the same period, Ascarus, are the names by which Thebes first takes a place in the history of Greek art[47]; and it is an interesting fact that her earliest known sculptors should have been the contemporary of her greatest poet.

§ 26. The mythical material of sculpture in or just before Pindar's age is not, as a rule, taken directly from our Homer, but more largely from episodes treated in other and (as I believe) chiefly later poems. Many of these subjects come within the range of Pindar's treatment or allusion. I may give a few instances, by way of showing how Pindar and the sculptors were working in the same field. The Gigantomachia (Pindar, Nem. i. 67) adorned the pediment of the Megarian "Treasury" at Olympia; next to Zeus, Poseidon, and Ares, the chief figure was Heracles, whom Pindar also makes prominent. The wedding of Heracles with Hebe (Pind. ib. and Isthm. iii. 78) was the subject of a relief (of Pindar's age) on the low wall round the mouth of a well (περιστόμιον) found at Corinth. Pindar may have [ 108 ] lived to see the eastern pediment of the temple of Zeus at Olympia, by Paeonius, though not the western, by Alcamenes; the subject of the eastern was the chariot-race of Pelops and Oenomaus (Pind. Ol. i. 76); of the western, the war of the Centaurs with the Lapithae (Λαπιθᾶν ὑπερόπλων, Pyth. ix. 14). Pindar's mention of the "fair-throned Hours" (εὔθρονοι Ὧραι, Pyth. ix. 60) reminds us that the Heraion at Olympia possessed a chryselephantine group of the Horae seated on thrones, by Smilis of Aegina, whose date has been referred to the earlier half of the sixth century. Hiero of Syracuse, who was engaged in war while suffering from gout and stone, is compared by Pindar with Philoctetes, νεῖ μὲν χρωτὶ βαίνων, ἀλλὰ μοιρίδιον ἦν (Pyth. i. 55). At that very time Syracuse contained the famous statue of the limping Philoctetes, by Pythagoras of Rhegium, of which Pliny says that those who looked at it seemed to feel the pain (xxxiv. 59). Even if we hesitate to believe that the sculptor intended an allusion to Hiero[48], we may well suppose that Pindar's comparison was suggested by the work of Pythagoras. Pindar touches on a legend which represented Heracles in combat with Apollo and two other gods (Ol. ix. 30 f). A similar contest between Heracles and Apollo was the subject of a group executed in Pindar's time (about 485 B.C.) by three artists of Corinth—Diyllus, Amyclaeus, and Chionis—and offered by the Phocians in the temple at Delphi [ 109 ] (Paus. x. 13, 7). The religious reserve with which Pindar alludes to the strife between Heracles and the god (Ol. ix. 35, ἀπό μοι λόγον | τοῦτον, στόμα, ῥῖψον) has led critics to infer that the story was one of the ἱεροὶ λόγοι pertaining to mysteries[49]. His reticence probably reflects the tone of the Delphic priesthood in regard to the closely kindred subject which he must have seen in their temple.

§ 27. A favourite image for the paths of song is drawn by Pindar from broad, stately causeways like that σκυρωτὴ ὁδός (Pyth. v. 87) which his own feet had perhaps trodden in the African Cyrene. See Nem. vi. 47 (πλατεῖαι πρόσοδοι): Isthm. iii. 19 (μυρία παντᾶ κέλευθος): v. 22, μυρίαι δ' ἔργων καλῶν τέτμηνθ' ἑκατόμπεδοι ἐν σχερῷ κέλευθοι, "countless roads of a hundred feet [in width] are cleft for onward course of noble deeds." Such touches are suggestive of the improvement in the laying out of Greek towns which took place in Pindar's later years, when Hippodamus, for instance, the architect of the Peiraeus, is said to have introduced broad, straight streets, intersecting each other at right angles (Arist. Pol. ii. 5). Besides works in stone, Pindar alludes to artistic works (ἔργα) in several other materials. We hear of silver cups (ἀργυρίδες, Ol. ix. 90), goblets of gold (φιάλαν παγχρυσον, Ol. vii. 1), tripods and caldrons (λέβητες, Isthm. i. 19): in one case, χαλκὸς μυρίος, "prizes in bronze past counting" (Nem. x. 45). A song is likened to cunning work which blends gold, ivory, and coral [ 110 ] (Nem. vii. 78). Pindar's epithets sometimes suggest that he was thinking of colours which he had seen in works of art (sculpture or painting). Thus Ol. vi. 94, φοινικόπεζαν Δάματρα λευκίππου τε θυγατρός, Demeter with red sandals, Persephone with white horses; Pyth. iv. 182, Zetes and Calais, ἄνδρας πτεροῖσιν νῶτα πεφρίκοντας ἄμφω πορφυρέοις, "with purple wings erect upon their backs": Ol. vi. 14, φαιδίμας ἵππους, perhaps alluding to the white horses of Amphiaraus (Philostr. Imagines i. 27): the saffron swaddling bands of Heracles, the saffron robe of Jason (Nem. i. 38, Pyth. iv. 232). The poet's own feeling for colour appears in the beautiful story of the birth of Iamus; Evadne lays aside her silver pitcher and her girdle of scarlet web; the babe is found ἴων ξανθαῖσι καὶ παμπορφύροις ἀκτῖσι βεβρεγμένος ἁβρον | σῶμα, "its delicate body steeped in the golden and deep purple rays of pansies" (Ol. vi. 55).

§ 28. In concluding this sketch of Pindar's relation to the art of his own day, we may notice one or two glimpses which he gives us of archaic Greek art. In Ol. vii. 50 f. he mentions the Heliadae, a clan or hereditary guild of artists in Rhodes, united by the cult of Helios (the sun-god) as their ancestor. To them Athene gave skill above that of other men: "and the ways of Rhodes bare works like to beasts and creeping things; and theirs was wealth of fame. Yea, for him who hath knowledge science also is greater when 'tis guileless" (δαέντι δὲ καὶ σοφία μείζων ἄδολος τελέθει). The latter words [ 111 ] allude to the mythical Telchines (Τελχῖνες), the earliest artistic workers in metal, whom legend represented as magicians (γόητες), wizards who cast an evil eye on all who dared to compete with them (βάσκανοι, φθονεροὶ δαίμονες): Strabo xiv. 653: Tzetzes, Chil. vii. 123 f. The same charge of sorcery was laid against the Dactyli (Δάκτυλοι) of Ida in the Troad (or, as some have it, in Crete), who figure as the earliest blacksmiths: γόητες, φαρμακεῖς, schol. Apol. Rhod. Arg. i. 1129[50]. It was the wonder of a dark age for "uncanny" skill, expressing itself as it did towards the "adepts" of the middle age—when Michael Scott, for instance, a respectable young diplomatist who had dabbled in chemistry, passed for a wizard in the Border country, when he retired to study Aristotle in the gaunt house which may still be seen by the Yarrow. Pindar means: "The Heliadae, who wrought metal into images of living things without the aid of sorcery, were greater artists than the Telchines or Dactyli. Success in art also (like success in other things) is a greater achievement when it is honest. So, at least, it must seem to a man of understanding (δαέντι)." These earliest efforts of metal-working were especially associated with the mineral resources of Phrygia, Cyprus, Crete, and Rhodes. Another passage of Pindar recalls the age of rude wood-carving. The ornamented harness dedicated in the temple of Delphi by the victorious charioteer of [ 112 ] Arcesilas was placed in a shrine of cypress (κυπαρίσσινον μέγαρον), hard by the statue which the bow-bearing Cretans set in the Parnassian house [the temple], the statue in one piece of native growth": ἀμφ' ἀνδριάντι σχεδόν, | Κρῆτες ὃν τοξοφόροι τέγεϊ Παρνασίῳ κάθεσσαν, τὸν μονόδροπον, φυτόν (Pyth. v. 37). The image was doubtless a piece of wood that had grown in some shape which was fancied to resemble the human form; though φυτόν does not seem to exclude the supposition that this likeness had been developed by rough carving. The name ἀνδριάς would at least not have been given to a shapeless log, such as once symbolised Athene at Lindus and Artemis at Icarus. Daedalus was especially associated with wood-carving, as at Athens, where a guild of wood-carvers bore his name, and two Cretan "Daedalidae"—Dipoenus and Scyllis, about 500 B.C.—are said to have made a wooden image (ξόανον) of the Munychian Artemis for Sicyon (Clem. Protrept. iv. 42).

§ 29. To these notices of early work in metal and in wood, I would add Pindar's mention of arts for which Corinth had early been famous. Olymp. xiii. 16, πολλὰ δ' ἐν καρδίαις ἀνδρῶν ἔβαλον | Ὧραι πολυάνθεμοι ἀρχαῖα σοφίσματθ'· ἅπαν δ' εὑρόντος ἔργον. "Many devices, from olden time, have the flower-crowned Hours put in the hearts of (Corinthian) men; and every work is his who wrought it first." What are these ἀρχαῖα σοφίσματα? As examples, Pindar mentions (1) the development of the dithyramb, (2) certain improvements in the appliances for harnessing and [ 113 ] driving horses, (3) the addition of the pediment (οἰωνῶν βασιλέα δίδυμον, i.e. ἀετόν) to temples. But these are merely a few instances pertinent to his theme, and it is plain that, in his thought, πολλὰ σοφίσματα included more than these. Nor have we far to seek. Corinth had been one of the oldest seats of sculpture in bronze: cp. Horace Sat. 11. iii. 21, where the collector seeks for a bronze ποδανιπτήρ which Sisyphus might have used. But Corinth was more peculiarly associated with the earliest modelling in clay, in which the Corinthian Butades was the first traditional name. The story was that three artists, Eucheir, Diopos and Eugrammos, exiled from Corinth about 665 B.C., introduced the art into Etruria. With regard to the rival claim of the Samians, Theodorus and Rhoecus, to have been the first modellers in clay, Mr A. S. Murray has well remarked that they, as workers in bronze, may have used clay for preliminary models, while the Corinthian Butades may have been the first to produce clay figures which, when coloured, were substantive works of art.

§ 30. The spirit of drama often breathes in Pindar. Thus the interview between Jason and Pelias (Pyth. iv.) is the sketch of a splendid scene. The meeting of Apollo and Cheiron (Pyth. ix.), the episode of Castor and Polydeuces (Nem. x.), the entertainment of Heracles by Telamon (Isthm. v.), and many other passages, are instinct with truly dramatic touches. These are from a man who was accustomed to see beautiful forms in vivid action or in vivid art. He sought to body forth the persons [ 114 ] of legend with equal vividness. Continuous narratives of the heroic past had ceased to satisfy the imagination; but faith was still living. The effort of Pindar's age—stirred as it had been to the core by that great trilogy of national life, the Persian invasions—was to grasp a well-defined episode; to see the heroes moving; to hear them speaking; to throw back upon their world such a light of contemporary reflection as should make them seem nearer and more real. The history of Greek literature is not a series of chapters, but the course of a natural growth, the voice of Greek life from age to age. Pindar's place in that development is of singular interest. He stands between epos and drama. The phase of Greek mind which shaped the Iliad and the Odyssey is passing into that which shaped Attic Tragedy. Pindar is the lyric interpreter of the impulse which received mature expression from Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. Olympia, with its athletes, its statues, and its temples corresponded to the essence of Greek drama—action idealised by art and consecrated by religion. When Sophocles, by an effective anachronism, describes the chariot-race of Orestes at the Pythian games, we feel how naturally and easily a Greek imagination could revive the heroes amid the surroundings of such a festival. It is not only by his subjects, but still more by his manner of treatment, that Pindar exhibits the influence of the πανηγύρεις: and, like Olympia itself, the temper of his work illustrates the spiritual unity of the best Greek art in every form.


  1. Reprinted from the Journal of Hellenic Studies, vol. iii. p. 144.
  2. Curtius, Hist. Gr. vol. ii. p. 264. (tr. Ward).
  3. Herodotus vi. 115.
  4. Pyth. i. 75. Cp. Isthm. iv. 49, on the distinction won by the Aeginetans at Salamis.
  5. Isthm. vii. 10.
  6. Pyth. i. 75.
  7. See Müller's Orchomenus, c. 5, p. 111 (2nd ed.).
  8. Müller, Dorians, ii. 79.
  9. The Ὑλλὶς στάθμα is identical with the τεθμοὶ Αἰγιμιοῦ. Pindar means: "At the new Aetna, as at Sparta, Dorians are true to their ancestral usages." Hyllus, son of Heracles, was said to have been adopted by Aegimius, the father of Pamphylus and Dymas. (In Isthm. vii. 43 note νεικέων πέταλα, alluding to the μεταλισμός.)
  10. Pyth. iii. 71.
  11. Pyth. ii. 86.
  12. Pyth. vii. ad init.
  13. Nem. v. 49.
  14. Ol. viii. 26.
  15. Ol. xiii. 8.
  16. Ol. ix. 15.
  17. Ol. iv. 16; Pyth. viii. 1.
  18. Isthm. ii. 23.
  19. Ol. viii. ad init.
  20. Ol. xii. 7.
  21. Nem. xi. 43.
  22. A suggestive example is the story which Herodotus tells with such delightful, though unconscious, humour. After his fall, Croesus sent to ask at Delphi whether it was the god's usual practice to deceive and ruin generous votaries. The reply was (1) that Apollo had, in fact, done his best; he had persuaded the Moirae to delay the doom of Croesus for some years; (2) that Croesus had misunderstood the oracle which had emboldened him to engage in war with Cyrus.
  23. Pyth. i. 41: ii. 49.
  24. Ol. i. 35: ix. 37.
  25. Ol. ii. 60.
  26. Ol. ii. 68.
  27. Pyth. ii. 34 (χρὴ δὲ κατ' αὐτὸν αἰεὶ παντὸς ὁρᾶν μέτρον): Nem. iii. 74 (τέσσαρας ἀρετάς).
  28. Il. xxiii. 104.
  29. Nem. vii. 54.
  30. Ol. ix. 100.
  31. Ol. vii. 91.
  32. Nem. xi. 37.
  33. Nem. vi. ad init.
  34. Ol. xii. 6.
  35. Ol. vii. 25.
  36. Ol. xi. 53.
  37. Ol. iv. 18.
  38. Ol. vii. 44, Προμαθέος Αἰδώς—whose opposite is Ἐπιμαθέος ὀψινόου θυγατὴρ Πρόφασις,—"Excuse, daughter of tardy Afterthought" (Pyth. v. 25).
  39. Ol. xi. 23.
  40. Nem. iv. 6.
  41. Ol. ii. 53.
  42. Pyth. iv. 288, φαντὶ δ' ἔμμεν | τοῦτ' ἀνιαρότατον, καλὰ γινώσκοντ' ἀνάγκᾳ | ἐκτος ἔχειν πόδα.
  43. Her. ix. 16, ἐχθίστη δὲ ὀδυνη ἐστὶ τῶν ἐν ἀνθρώποισι αὕτη, πολλὰ φρονέοντα μηδενὸς κρατέειν.
  44. See A. S. Murray, Manual of Mythology, p. 174.
  45. See Perry's Greek and Roman Sculpture, p. 57.
  46. See A. S. Murray, History of Greek Sculpture, pp. 147, 160.
  47. Cp. Perry's Greek and Roman Sculpture, p. 92.
  48. See Watkiss Lloyd, History of Sicily, p. 315; and A. S. Murray, History of Greek Sculpture, p. 203.
  49. Cp. Paley on Iliad v. 396.
  50. For other passages on the Telchines and the Dactyli, see Overbeck's Schriftquellen §27 f.

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

PINDAR (Gr. Hiv6apos, c. 522-443 B.C.), the great lyric poet of ancient Greece, was born at Cynoscephalae, in Boeotia, at the time of the Pythian games (fr. 175, Bergk 4, 193), 1 which is taken by Bdckh to be 522 B.C. He would thus be some thirty-four years younger than Simonides of Ceos. He was the son of Daiphantus and Cleodice (or Cleidice). The traditions of his family have left their impress on his poetry, and are not without importance for a correct estimate of his relation to his contemporaries. The clan of the Aegidae - tracing their line from the hero Aegeus - belonged to the " Cadmean " element l The references are to the edition of Pindar by C. A. M. Fennell (1893-1899), and the fourth edition of Bergk's Poetae lyrici graeci. of Thebes, i.e. to the elder nobility whose supposed date went back to the days of the founder Cadmus. A branch of the Theban Aegidae had been settled in Achaean times at Amyclae in the valley of the Eurotas (Pind. Isthm. vi. 14), and after the Dorian conquest of the Peloponnesus had apparently been adopted by the Spartans into one of the three Dorian tribes. The Spartan Aegidae helped to colonize the island of Thera (Pyth. v. 68-70). Another branch of the race was settled at Cyrene in Africa; and Pindar tells how his Aegid clansmen at Thebes " showed honour " to Cyrene as often as they kept the festival of the Carnea (Pyth. v. 75). Pindar is to be conceived, then, as standing within the circle of those families for whom the heroic myths were domestic records. He had a personal link with the memories which everywhere were most cherished by Dorians, no less than with those which appealed to men of " Cadmean " or of Achaean stock. And the wide ramifications of the Aegidae throughout Hellas rendered it peculiarly fitting that a member of that illustrious clan should celebrate the glories of many cities in verse which was truly Panhellenic.

Pindar is said to have received lessons in flute-playing from one Scopelinus at Thebes, and afterwards to have studied at Athens under the musicians Apollodorus (or Agathocles) and Lasus of Hermione. In his youth, as the story went, he was defeated in a poetical contest by the Theban Corinna - who, in reference to his profuse employment of Theban mythology, is said to have advised him " to sow with the hand, not with the sack." There is an extant fragment in which Corinna reproves another Theban poetess, Myrtis, " for that she, a woman, contended with Pindar " (iirc i 3ava Oda' €(3a Hiv6fipoto iron' €ptv) - a sentiment which hardly fits the story of Corinna's own victory. The facts that stand out from these meagre traditions are that Pindar was precocious and laborious. Preparatory labour of a somewhat severe and complex kind was, indeed, indispensable for the Greek lyric poet of that age. Lyric composition demanded studies not only in metre but in music, and in the adaptation of both to the intricate movements of the choral dance (opxflvrucii). Several passages in Pindar's extant odes glance at the long technical development of Greek lyric poetry before his time, and at the various elements of art which the lyrist was required to temper into a harmonious whole (see, e.g. 01. iii. 8, vi. 9 1, xiii. 18, xiv. 15; Pyth. xii. 23, &c.). The earliest ode which can be dated (Pyth. x.) belongs to the twentieth year of Pindar's age (502 B.C.); the latest (Olymp. v.) to the seventieth (452 B.C.). 2 He visited the court of Hiero at Syracuse; Theron, the despot of Acragas, also entertained him; and his travels perhaps included Cyrene. Tradition notices the special closeness of his relations with Delphi: " He was greatly honoured by all the Greeks, because he was so beloved of Apollo that he even received a share of the offerings; and at the sacrifices the priest would cry aloud that Pindar come in to the feast of the god." 3 His wife's name was Megacleia (another account says Timoxena, but this may have been a second wife), and he had a son named Daiphantus and two daughters, Eumetis and Protomache. He is said to have died at Argos, at the age of seventy-nine, in 443 B.C.

Among the Greeks of his own and later times Pindar was pre-eminently distinguished for his piety towards the gods. He tells us that, " near to the vestibule " of his house (Pyth. iii. 78), choruses of maidens used to dance and sing by night in praise of the Mother of the Gods (Cybele) and Pan - deities peculiarly associated with the Phrygian music of the flute, in which other members of Pindar's family besides the poet himself are said to have excelled. A statue and shrine of Cybele, which he dedicated at Thebes, were the work of the Theban artists, Aristomedes and Socrates. He also dedicated at Thebes a statue to Hermes Agoraios, and another, by Calamis, to Zeus Ammon. The latter god claimed his especial veneration because Cyrene, one of the homes of his Aegid ancestry, stood " where Zeus Ammon bath his seat," i.e. near the oasis and temple 2 According to others, his latest poem is the eighth Pythiad ode, 450 or 446.

IIu'Shpov ykvos, in ed. Ald.

XXI. 20 a (Pyth. iv. 16). The author of one of the Greek lives of Pindar says that, " when Pausanias the king of the Lacedaemonians was burning Thebes, some one wrote on Pindar's house, ` Burn not the house of Pindar the poet '; and thus it alone escaped destruction." This incident, of which the occasion is not further defined, has been regarded as a later invention.' Better attested, at least, is the similar clemency of Alexander the Great, when he sacked Thebes one hundred and eight years after the traditional date of Pindar's death (335 B.C.). He spared only (i) the Cadmeia, or citadel, of Thebes (thenceforth to be occupied by a Macedonian garrison); (2)(2) the temples and holy places; and (3) Pindar's house. While the inhabitants were sold into slavery, exception was made only of (I) priests and priestesses; (2) persons who had been connected by private Evict with Philip or Alexander, or by public eeLa with the Macedonians; (3) Pindar's descendants. It is probable enough, as Dio Chrysostom suggests (ii. 33), that Alexander was partly moved by personal gratitude to a poet who had celebrated his ancestor Alexander I. of Macedon. But he must have been also, or chiefly, influenced by the sacredness which in the eyes of all Hellenes surrounded Pindar's memory, not only as that of a great national poet, but also as that of a man who had stood in a specially close relation to the gods, and, above all, to the Delphian Apollo.' Upwards of six hundred years after Pindar's death the traveller Pausanias saw an iron chair which was preserved among the most precious treasures of the temple in the sanctuary at Delphi. It was the chair, he was told, " in which Pindar used to sit, whenever he came to Delphi, and to chant those of his songs which pertain to Apollo " (x. 24, 5).

During the second half of Pindar's life, Athens was rising to that supremacy in literature and art which was to prove more lasting than her political primacy. Pindar did not live to see the Parthenon, or to witness the mature triumphs of Sophocles; but he knew the sculpture of Calamis, and he may have known the masterpieces of Aeschylus. It is interesting to note the feeling of this great Theban poet, who stands midway between Homeric epos and Athenian drama, towards the Athens of which Thebes was so often the bitterest foe, but with which he himself had so large a measure of spiritual kinship. A few words remain from a dithyramb in which he paid a glowing tribute to those " sons of Athens " who " laid the shining foundations of freedom " (7raTSE3 'AOavaiwv E 1 (311.Xovro 4aevvecv Kprtlr18' EXEvOepias, fr. 55, Bergk 4, 77), while Athens itself is thus invoked: cw rai k rapai Kai ioarkSavoc Kai aoi&cµoc, `EXMOos ipE o-pa, Kaec-rai 'AOavac, SacµSvcov (fr. 54, Bergk 4, 76). Isocrates, writing in 353 B.C., states that the phrase `EXM os €paa a, " stay of Hellas," so greatly gratified the Athenians that they conferred on Pindar the high distinction of 7rpo Evia (i.e. appointed him honorary consul, as it were - for Athens at Thebes), besides presenting him with a large sum of money (Antidosis, 166). One of the letters of the pseudo-Aeschines iv.) gives an improbable turn to the story by saying that the Thebans had fined Pindar for his praise of Athens, and that the Athenians repaid him twice the sum.' The notice preserved by Isocrates - less than one hundred years after Pindar's death - is good warrant for the belief that Pindar had received some exceptional honours from Athens. Pausanias saw a statue of Pindar at Athens, near the temple of Ares (i. 8, 4). Besides the fragment just mentioned, several passages in Pindar's extant odes bespeak his love for Athens. Its name is almost always joined by him with some epithet of praise or reverence. In alluding to the great battles of the Persian wars, while he gives the glory of Plataea to the Spartans, he assigns that of Salamis to the Athenians (Pyth. i. 76). In celebrating (Pyth. vii.) the Pythian ' A. Schafer, Demosthenes and seine Zeit. iii. 119.

It will be remarked that history requires us to modify the statement in Milton's famous lines: " The great Emathian conqueror bade spare The house of Pindarus, when temple and tower Went to the ground." Indeed, the point of the incident depends much on the fact that the temples and Pindar's house were classed together for exemption. Compare Jebb, Attic Orators, ii. 143.

victory of the Athenian Megacles, he begins thus: " Fairest of preludes is the renown of Athens for the mighty race of the Alcmaeonidae. What home, or what house, could I call mine by a name that should sound more glorious for Hellas to hear ?" Referring to the fact that an Aeginetan victor in the games had been trained by an Athenian, he says (Nem. v. 49) " meet it is that a shaper of athletes should come from Athens" - and recollecting how often Pindar compares the poet's efforts to the athlete's, we may well believe that he was thinking of his own early training at Athens.

Pindar's versatility as a lyric poet is one of the characteristics remarked by Horace (Odes, iv. 2), and is proved by the fragments, though the poems which have come down entire represent only one class of compositions - the Epinicia, or odes of victory, commemorating successes in the great games. The lyric types to which the fragments belong, though it cannot be assumed that the list is complete, are at least numerous and varied.

(t) "Tpvoc, Hymns to deities - as to Zeus Ammon, to Persephone, to Fortune. The fragmentary iupvos entitled e7 atocs seems to have celebrated the deities of Thebes. (2) IIacavES, Fr ments. paeans, expressing prayer or praise for the help of a protecting god, especially Apollo, Artemis or Zeus. (3) L s%paµ,oc, Dithyrambs, odes of a lofty and impassioned strain, sung by choruses in honour of Dionysus (cf. Pind. 01. xiii. 18, rat OLwvvvov 7r60Ev iEKpavEv UUV sofXaT L XapLTES ScOvpa 43c' - where Pindar alludes to the choral form given to the dithyramb, c. 600 B.C., by Arion - #00auns, " ox-driving," perhaps meaning " winning an ox as prize "). (4) IIpovoSea, Processional Songs, choral chants for worshippers approaching a shrine. One was written by Pindar for the Delians, another for the Aeginetans. (5) IIapObn.a, Choral Songs for Maidens. The reference in Pyth. iii. 78 to maidens worshipping Cybele and Pan near the poet's house is illustrated by the fact that one of these IIapOfvca invoked " Pan, lord of Arcadia, attendant of the Great Mother, watcher of her awful shrine " (fr. 72, Bergk 4, 95). (6) `T7ropXipaTa, Choral Dance-Songs, adapted to a lively movement, used from an early date in the cult of Apollo, and afterwards in that of other gods, especially Dionysus. To this class belongs one of the finest fragments (84, Bergk 4, 107), written for the Thebans in connexion with propitiatory rites after an eclipse of the sun, probably that of the 30th of April 463 B.C. (7) EyKaopca, Songs of Praise (for men, while upvoc were for gods), to be sung by a or festal company. In strictness EyKwpcov was the genus of which E7rLvLKLov was a species; but the latter is more conveniently treated as a distinct kind. Pindar wrote encomia for Theron, despot of Acragas, and for Alexander I. (son of Amyntas), king of Macedon. (8) /KOaca, Festal Songs. The usual sense of o - KOXcov is a drinking-song, taken up by one guest after another at a banquet. But Pindar's o - KOXca were choral and antistrophic. One was to be sung at Corinth by a chorus of the LEp6SovXoc attached to the temple of Aphrodite Ourania, when a certain Xenophon offered sacrifice before going to compete at Olympia. Another brilliant fragment, for Theoxenus of Tenedos, has an erotic character. (9) Opnvoc, Dirges, to be sung with choral dance and the music of the flute, either at the burial of the dead or in commemorative rituals. Some of the most beautiful fragments belong to this class (106-1to, Bergk 4, 129-133). One of the smaller fragments (114, Bergk 4, 137) - in memory of an Athenian who had been initiated into the Eleusinian mysteries (i&civ KEiva) - has been conjecturally referred to the Op5 5 vos which Pindar is said to have written (schol. Pyth. vii. 18) for Hippocrates, the grandfather of Pericles. A number of small fragments, which cannot be certainly classified, are usually given as E aMAwv d&'v, " of uncertain class." On comparing the above list with Horace, Odes, iv. 2, it will be seen that he alludes to No. 3 (dithyrambos); to Nos. I, 2, and 7 deos regesve canit); and to No. 9 (flebili sponsae juvenemve raptum Plorat) - as well as to the extant Epinicia (sive quos Elea domum reducit Palma caelestes). The Epinicia. - The E7reviKCa (sc. OM), or ktvixcoc (sc. uµvoe), " Odes of Victory," form a collection of forty-four odes, traditionally divided into four books, answering to the four great festivals: (r) 'OAvµ7rcoviKae (sc. uµvoc) : fourteen odes for winners of the wild olive-wreath in the Olympian games, held at Olympia in honour of Zeus once in four years; (2) IIvOtov icat: twelve odes for winners of the laurel-wreath in the Pythian games held at Delphi in honour of Apollo, once in four years, the third of each Olympiad; (3) NEj€ov7Kat: eleven odes for winners of the pine-wreath in the Nemean games, held at Nemea, in honour of Zeus, once in two years, the second and fourth of each Olympiad; and (4) IaOµcoviKac: seven odes for winners of the parsley wreath in the Isthmian games, held at the Isthmus of Corinth, in honour of Poseidon, once in two years, the first and third of each Olympiad. The Greek way of citing an ode is by the nomin. plur. followed by the numeral, e.g. " the ninth Olympian " is ' OXuµirto vIKac 0'. The chronological range of the collection (so far as ascertainable) is from 502 B.C. (Pyth. x.) to 452 B.C. (01. v.). With respect to the native places of the victors, the geographical distribution is as follows: for the mainland of Greece proper, 13 odes; for Aegina, 11; for Sicily, 5; for the Epizephyrian Locrians (southern Italy), 2; for Cyrene (Africa), 3.

The general characteristics of the odes may be briefly considered under the following heads: (I) language; (2) treatment of theme; (3) sentiment - religious, moral and political; (4) relation to contemporary art.

1. The diction of Pindar is distinct in character from that of every other Greek poet, being almost everywhere marked by the greatest imaginative boldness. Thus (a) metaphor is used even for the expression of common ideas, or the translation of familiar phrases, as when a cloak is called (01. ix. 97) " a warm remedy for winds." (b) Images for the highest excellence are drawn from the farthest limits of travel or navigation, or from the fairest of natural objects; as when the superlative hospitality of a man who kept open house all the year round is described by saying, " far as to Phasis was his voyage in summer days, and in winter to the shores of Nile " (Isthm. ii. 41); or when Olympia, the " crown " or " flower " of festivals, is said to be excellent as water, bright as gold, brilliant as the noonday sun (01. i. ad init.). This trait might be called the Pindaric imagery of the superlative. (c) Poetical inversion of ordinary phrase is frequent; as, instead of, " he struck fear into the beasts," " he gave the beasts to fear " (Pyth. v. 56). (d) The efforts of the poet's genius are represented under an extraordinary number of similitudes, borrowed from javelin-throwing, chariot-driving, leaping, rowing, sailing, ploughing, building, shooting with the bow, sharpening a knife on a whetstone, mixing wine in a bowl, and many more. (e) Homely images, from common life, are not rare; as from account-keeping, usury, sending merchandise over sea, the vKoritXri or secret dispatch, &c. And we have such homely proverbs as, " he hath his foot in this shoe," i.e. stands in this case (01. vi. 8). (f) The natural order of words in a sentence is often boldly deranged, while, on the other hand, the syntax is seldom difficult. (g) Words not found except in Pindar are numerous, many of these being compounds which (like ivapiµl3poros, KaragwXXopo€iv, &c.) suited the dactylic metres in their Pindaric combinations. Horace was right in speaking of Pindar's " nova verba," though they were not confined to the " audaces dithyrambi." 2. The actual victory which gave occasion for the ode is seldom treated at length or in detail - which, indeed, only exceptional incidents could justify. Pindar's method is to take some heroic myth, or group of myths, connected with the victor's city or family, and, after a brief prelude, to enter on this, returning at the close, as a rule, to the subject of the victor's merit or good fortune, and interspersing the whole with moral comment. Thus the fourth Pythian is for Arcesilaus, king of Cyrene, which was said to have been founded by men of Thera, descendants of one of Jason's comrades. Using this link, Pindar introduces his splendid narrative of the Argonauts. Many odes, again, contain shorter mythical episodes - as the birth of Iamus (01. vi.), or the vision of Bellerophon (01. xiii.) - which form small pictures of masterly finish and beauty. Particular notice is due to the skill with which Pindar often manages the return from a mythical digression to his immediate theme. It is bold and swift, yet is not felt as harshly abrupt - justifying his own phrase at one such turn - Kai oluov i raut 1 3paXvv (Pyth. iv. 247). It has been thought that, in the parenthesis about the Amazons' shields (quibus Mos uncle deductus. .. quaerere distuli, Odes, iv. 4, 18), Horace was imitating a Pindaric transition; if so, he has illustrated his own observation as to the peril of imitating the Theban poet.

3. a. The religious feeling of Pindar is strongly marked in the odes. " From the gods are all means of human excellence." He will not believe that the gods, when they dined with Tantalus, ate his son Pelops; rather Poseidon carried off the youth to Olympus. That is, his reason for rejecting a scandalous story about the gods is purely religious, as distinct from moral; it shocks his conception of the divine dignity. With regard to oracles, he inculcates precisely such a view as would have been most acceptable to the Delphic priesthood, viz. that the gods do illumine their prophets, but that human wit can foresee nothing which the gods do not choose to reveal. A mystical doctrine of the soul's destiny after death appears in some passages (as 01. ii. 66 sq.). Pindar was familiar with the idea of metempsychosis (cf. ibid. 68), but the attempt to trace Pythagoreanism in some phrases (Pyth. ii. 34, iii. 74) appears unsafe. The belief in a fully conscious existence for the soul in a future state, determined by the character of the earthly life, entered into the teaching of the Eleusinian and other mysteries. Comparing the fragment of the Opi)vos (114, Bergk 4, 737), we may probably regard the mystic or esoteric element in Pindar's theology as due to such a source.

b. The moral sentiment pervading Pindar's odes rests on a constant recognition of the limits imposed by the divine will on. human effort, combined with strenuous exhortation that each man should strive to reach the limit allowed in his own case. Native temperament (4v) is the grand source of all human excellence (ap€7-17), while such excellences as can be acquired by study ((Maio-al apErai, 01. ix. 1 oo) are of relatively small scope - the sentiment, we may remark, of one whose thoughts were habitually conversant with the native qualities of a poet on the one hand and of an athlete on the other. The elements of iryLas 6X 1 os - " sane happiness," such as has least reason to dread the jealousy of the gods - are substance sufficing for daily wants and good repute (caoyia). He who has these should not " seek to be a god." " Wealth set with virtues " (irXoiros apETais SESau5aXiAvo), as gold with precious gems, is the most fortunate lot, because it affords the amplest opportunities for honourable activity. Pindar does not rise above the ethical standard of an age which said, " love thy friend and hate thy foe " (cf. Pyth. ii. 83; Isthm. iii. 65). But in one sense he has a moral elevation which is distinctively his own; he is the glowing prophet of generous emulation and of reverent selfcontrol.

c. The political sentiments of the Theban poet are suggested by Pyth. xi. 52; " In polities I find the middle state crowned with more enduring good; therefore praise I not the despot's portion; those virtues move my zeal which serve the folk." If in Pyth. ii. 87, a democracy is described as b Mf3pos crrparos, " the raging crowd, " it is to be noted that the ode is for Hiero of Syracuse, and that the phrase clearly refers to the violence of those democratic revolutions which, in the early part of the 5th century B.C., more than once convulsed Sicilian cities. At Thebes, after the Persian wars, a " constitutional oligarchy " (oXcyapxia i 16voµos, Thuc. iii. 62) had replaced the narrower and less temperate oligarchy of former days (SuvavTEia ov wet vbpwv); and in this we may probably recognize the phase of Greek political life most congenial to Pindar. He speaks of a king's lot as unique in its opportunities (01. i. 113); he sketches the character of an ideal king (Pyth_ iii. 71); but nothing in his poetry implies liking for the rupavvis as a form of government. Towards the Greek princes of Sicily and Cyrene his tone is ever one of manly independence; he speaks as a Greek citizen whose lineage places him on a level with the proudest of the Dorian race, and whose office invests him with an almost sacred dignity. In regard to the politics of Hellas at large, Pindar makes us feel the new sense of leisure for quiet pursuits and civilizing arts which came after the Persian wars. He honours " Tranquillity, the friend of cities " (`Avvxia q tX1nroXcs, 01. iv. 16). The epic poet sang of wars; Pindar celebrates the " rivalries of peace." 4. Pindar's genius was boldly original; at the same time he was an exquisite artist. " Mine be it to invent new strains,. mine the skill to hold my course in the chariot of the Muses;. and may courage go with me, and power of ample grasp " (01.. ix. 80). Here we see the exulting sense of inborn strength; in many other places we perceive the feeling of conscious art - as in the phrase SatSAXXEcv, so apt for his method of inlaying an ode with mythical subjects, or when he compares the opening of a song to the front of a stately building (01. vi. 3). Pindar's sympathy with external nature was deeper and keener than is often discernible in the poetry of his age. It appears, for example, in his welcome of the season when " the chamber of the hours is opened, and delicate plants perceive the fragrant spring" (fr. 53, Bergk 4, 75); in the passage where Jason invokes " the rushing strength of waves and winds, and the nights, and the paths of the deep " (Pyth. iv. 195); in the lines on the eclipse of the sun (fr. 84, Bergk, 4 107); and in the picture of the eruption, when Etna, " pillar of the sky, nurse of keen snow all the year," sends forth " pure springs of fire unapproachable " (Pyth. i. 20). The poet's feeling for colour is often noticeable --as in the beautiful story of the birth of Iamus - when Evadne lays aside her silver pitcher and her girdle of scarlet web; the babe is found, " its delicate body steeped in the golden and deep purple rays of pansies " (01. vi. 55).

The spirit of art, in every form, is represented for Pindar by xipcs - " the source of all delights to mortals " (01. i. 30) - or by the personified Charites (Graces). The Charites were often represented as young maidens, decking themselves with early flowers - the rose, in particular, being sacred to them as well as to Aphrodite. In Pindar's mind, as in the old Greek conception from which the worship of the Charites sprang, the instinct of beautiful art was inseparable from the sense of natural. beauty. The period from Soo to 460 B.C., to which Sculpture. most of Pindar's extant odes belong, marked a stage in the development of Greek sculpture. The schools of Argos, Sicyon and Aegina were effecting a transition from archaic types to the art which was afterwards matured in the age of Pheidias. Olympia forms the central link between Pindar's poetry and Greek sculpture. From about 560 B.C. onwards sculpture had been applied to the commemoration of athletes, chiefly at Olympia. In a striking passage (Nem. v. ad. init.) Pindar recognizes sculpture and poetry as sister arts employed in the commemoration of the athlete, and contrasts the merely local effect of the statue with the wide diffusion of the poem. " No sculptor I, to fashion images that shall stand idly on one pedestal for aye; no, go thou forth from Aegina, sweet song of mine, on every freighted ship, on each light bark." Many particular subjects were common to Pindar and contemporary sculpture. Thus (1) the sculptures on the east pediment of the temple at Aegina represented Heracles coming to seek the aid of Telamon against Troy - a theme brilliantly treated by Pindar in the fifth Isthmian; (2) Hiero's victory in the chariot-race was commemorated at Olympia by the joint work of the sculptors Onatas and Calamis; (3) the Gigantomachia, (4) the wedding of Heracles and Hebe, (5) the war of the Centaurs with the Lapithae, and (6) a contest between Heracles and Apollo, are instances of mythical material treated alike by the poet and by sculptors of his day. The contemporary improvements in town architecture, introducing spacious and wellpaved streets, such as the oKUpcoT1 6563 at Cyrene (Pyth. v. 87), suggests his frequent comparison of the paths of song to broad and stately causeways (7rXareiac 7rp6voOoc - EKaT6µiro oc KO¦evOot, Nem. vi. 47; I sthm. vi. 22). A song is likened to cunning work which blends gold, ivory and coral (Nem. vii. 78). Pindar's feeling that poetry, though essentially a divine gift, has a technical side (aoc41a), and that on this side it has had an historical development like that of other arts, is forcibly illustrated by his reference to the inventions (oo¢16µara) for which Corinth had early been famous. He instances (1) the development of the dithyramb, (2) certain improvements in the harnessing and driving of horses, and (3) the addition of the pediment to temples (01. xiii. 21).

In the development of Greek lyric poetry two periods are broadly distinguished. During the first, from about 600 to 500 B.C., lyric poetry is local or tribal - as Alcaeus and Sappho write for Lesbians, Alcman and Stesichorus for Dorians. During the second period, which takes its rise in the sense of Hellenic unity created by the Persian wars, the lyric poet addresses all Greece. Pindar and Simonides are the great representatives of this second period, to which Bacchylides, the nephew of Simonides, also belongs. These, with a few minor poets, are classed by German writers as die universalen Meliker. The Greeks usually spoke, not of " lyric," but of " melic " poetry (i.e. meant to be sung, and not, like the epic, recited); and " universal melic " is lyric poetry addressed to all Greece. But Pindar is more than the chief extant lyrist. Epic, lyric and dramatic poetry succeeded each other in Greek literature by a natural development. Each of them was the spontaneous utterance of the age which brought it forth. In Pindar we can see that phase of the Greek mind which produced Homeric epos passing over into the phase which produced Athenian drama. His spirit is often thoroughly dramatic - witness such scenes as the interview between Jason and Pelias (Pyth. iv.), the meeting of Apollo and Chiron (Pyth. ix.), the episode of Castor and Polydeuces (Nem. x.), the entertainment of Heracles by Telamon (Isthm. v.). Epic narrative alone was no longer enough for the men who had known that great trilogy of national life, the Persian invasions; they longed to see the heroes moving and to hear them speaking. The poet of Olympia, accustomed to see beautiful forms in vivid action or vivid art, was well fitted to be the lyric interpreter of the new dramatic impulse. Pindar has more of the Homeric spirit than any Greek lyric poet known to us. On the other side, he has a genuine, if less evident, kinship with Aeschylus and Sophocles. Pindar's work, like Olympia itself, illustrates the spiritual unity of Greek art.

The fact that certain glosses and lacunae are common to all our MSS. of Pindar make it probable that these MSS. are derived from a common archetype. Now the older scholia on Pindar, which appear to have been compiled mainly from the commentaries of Didymus (c. 15 B.C.), sometimes presuppose a purer text than ours. But the compiler of these older scholia lived after Herodian (A.D. 160). The archetype of our MSS., then, cannot have been older than the end of the 2nd century. Our MSS. fall into two general classes: (1) the older, representing a text which, though often corrupt, is comparatively free from interpolations; (2) the later, which exhibit the traces of a Byzantine recension, in other words, of lawless conjecture, down to the 14th or 15th century. To the first class belong Parisinus 7, breaking off in Pyth. v.; Ambrosianus 1, which has only 01. i. - xii.; Mediceus 2; and Vaticanus 2 - the two last-named being of the highest value. The editio princeps is the Aldine (Venice, 1513). A modern study of Pindar may be almost said to have begun with C. G. Heyne's edition (1773). Hermann did much to advance Pindaric criticism. But August Bockh (1811-1821), who was assisted in his commentary by L. Dissen, is justly regarded as the founder of a scientific treat, ment of the poet. The edition of Theodor Bergk (Poetae lyrici graeci, new ed. by 0. Schroder, 1900) is marked by considerable boldness of conjecture, as that of Tycho Mommsen (1864) by a sometimes excessive adherence to MSS. A recension by W. Christ has been published in Teubner's series (2nd ed., 1896), also with Prolegomena and commentary (1896); and by 0. Schroder (1908). The complete edition of J. W. Donaldson (1841) has many merits; but that of C. A. M. Fennell (1879-1883; new ed., 1893-1899) is better adapted to the needs of English students. The Olympia and Pythia have been edited by B. L. Gildersleeve (1885), the Nemea and Isthmia by J. B. Bury (1890-1892); the Scholia by E. Abel (1890, unfinished) and A. B. Brachmann (1903). There is a special lexicon by J. Rumpel (1883). The translation into English prose by Ernest Myers (2nd ed., 1883) is excellent; verse translation by T. C. Baring (1875), and of the Olympian Odes by Cyril Mayne (1906). Pindar's metres have been analysed by J. H. H. Schmidt, in Die Kunstformen der griechischen Poesie (Leipzig, 1868-1872). On Pindar generally, see monographs by A. F. Villemain (1859), L. Schmidt (1862), G. Liibbert (1882), A. Croiset (1880), W. Christ, Geschichte der griechischen Litteratur (1898); and the little volume by F. D. Morice in Blackwood's Ancient Classics for English Readers. Exhaustive bibliographical information on the earlier literature will be found in Engelmann, Scriptores graeci (1881); see also L. Bornemann, in Bursian's Jahresbericht, (cxvi. 1904), with special reference to chronological questions and Pythia, i., ii., iii. Some considerable fragments of the paeans were discovered in 1906 by B. P. Grenfell and A. S. Hunt (see Oxyrhynchus papyri, pt. v. pp. 24-81); some critical notes will be found in Classical Review, Feb. 1908 (A. E. Housman).

(R. C. J.; x.)

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From Ancient Greek Πίνδαρος (Pindaros).

Proper noun




  1. (ca. 522–443 BC) A great Ancient Greek lyric poet from Thebes




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