An Ode to the Right Honourable the Earl of Huntingdon (Akenside)/Notes
NOTES and ILLUSTRATIONS.
a Lycurgus, the Lacedæmonian Law-giver, brought into Greece, from Asia Minor, the first compleat Copy of Homer's Works.
b At Platæa was fought the decisive Battle between the Persian Army, and the united Militia of Greece under Pausanias and Aristides.
c Cimon the Athenian erected a Trophy in Cyprus for two great Victories gain'd on the same Day over the Persians by Sea and Land. Diodorus Siculus has preserv'd the Inscription which the Athenians affixed to the consecrated Spoils, after this great Success; in which it is very remarkable that the Greatness of the Occasion has rais'd the Manner of Expression above the usual Simplicity and Modesty of all other ancient Inscriptions. It is this:
Ἐξ ου γ Ευρωτην Ασίας δίχα πόντος ενειμε,
Και πολέας Θουπος Αρης επέχει,
Ουδέν πω τοιγτον επιχΘονίων γένετ ανδρων
εργον ον ηπειρω και κατα πόντον αμα.
Οιδε γαπ εω Κύπρω Μήδογς πολλογς ολεσαντες,
Φοινίκων εκατον ναυς ελον εν πελάγει,
ανδρων πληΘογσας. Μέγα δ εστενεν Ασις υπ αυτων,
Πληγεισ αμφοτέραις χερσι, κρατει πολόμογ.
The following Translation is almost literal:
Since first the Sea from Asia's hostile Coast
Divided Europe, and the God of War
Assail'd imperious Cities; never yet,
At once amid the Waves and on the Shore,
Hath such a Deed been wrought by mortal Men
Who Earth inhabit. They, whose Arms the Medes
In Cyprus felt pernicious, they, the same,
Have won from skilful Tyre an Hundred Ships
Crouded with Warriors. Asia groans, in both
Her Hands fore smitten, and deserts the War.
dPindar was contemporary with Aristides and Cimon, in whom the Glory of ancient Greece was at it's height. When Xerxes invaded Greece, Pindar was true to the common interest of his Country; tho' his Fellow Citizens, the Thebans, had sold themselves to the Persian King. In one of his Odes he expresses the great Distress and Anxiety of his Mind, occasion'd by the vast Preparations of Xerxes against Greece (Isihm. 8.) In another he celebrates the Victories of Salamis, Platæa, and Himera (Pyth. i.) It will be necessary to add two or three other Particulars of his Life, real or fabulous, in order to explain what follows in the Text concerning him. First then, he was thought to be so great a favourite of Apollo, that the Priests of that Deity allotted him a constant Share of their Offerings. It was said of him, as of some other illustrious Men, that at his Birth a Swarm of Bees lighted on his Lips, and fed him with their Honey. It was also a Tradition concerning him, that Pan was heard to recite his Poetry, and seen dancing to one of his Hymns on the Mountains near Thebes. But a real Historical Fact in his Life is, that the Thebans imposed a large Fine upon him on account of the Veneration which he express'd in his Poems for that Heroic Spirit, shewn by the People of Athens in Defence of the common Liberty, which his own Fellow Citizens had shamefully betrayed. And as the Argument of this Ode implies, that great Poetical Talents, and high Sentiments of Liberty, do reciprocally produce and assist each other, so Pindar is perhaps the most exemplary Proof of this Connection, which occurs in History. The Thebans were remarkable, in general, for a slavish Disposition through all the Fortunes of their Common-wealth; at the Time of it's Ruin by Philip; and even in its best State, under the Administration of Pelopidas and Epaminondas: And every one knows, they were no less remarkable for great Dullness, and Want of all Genius. That Pindar should have equally distinguished himself from the rest of his Fellow Citizens in both these Respects, seems somewhat extraordinary, and is scarce to be accounted for but by the preceding Observation.
e Alluding to his Defence of the People of England, against Salmasius. See particularly the Manner in which he himself speaks of that Undertaking, in the Introduction to his Reply to Morus.
f Edward the Third; from whom descended Henry Hastings, third Earl of Huntingdon, by the Daughter of the Duke of Clarence, Brother to Edward the Fourth.
g At Whittington, a Village on the Edge of Scarsdale in Derbyshire, the Earls of Devonshire and Danby, with the Lord Delamere, privately concerted the Plan of the Revolution. The House, in which they met, is at present a Farm-house and the Country-people distinguish the Room, where they sate, by the Name of the plotting Parlour.