History of the Literature of Ancient Greece (Müller) 2ed/Chapter XV

History of the Literature of Ancient Greece, to the period of Isocrates  (1847)  by Karl Otfried Müller, translated by George Cornewall Lewis
Chapter XV. Pindar.


§ 1. Pindar's descent; his early training in poetry and music. § 2. Exercise of his art; his independent position with respect to the Greek princes and republics. § 3. Kinds of poetry cultivated by him. § 4. His Epinikia; their origin and objects. § 5. Their two main elements, general remarks, and mythical narrations. § 6. Connexion of these two elements; peculiarities of the structure of Pindar's odes. § 7. Variety of tone in his odes, according to the different musical styles.

§ 1. Pindar was born in the spring of 522 B. C. (Olymp. 64. 3); and, according to a probable statement, he died at the age of eighty[1]. He was therefore nearly in the prime of his life at the time when Xerxes invaded Greece, and the battles of Thermopylæ and Salamis were fought. He thus belongs to that period of the Greek nation, when its great qualities were first distinctly unfolded; and when it exhibited an energy of action, and a spirit of enterprise, never afterwards surpassed, together with a love of poetry, art, and philosophy, which produced much, and promised to produce more. The modes of thought, and style of art, which arose in Athens after the Persian war, must have been unknown to him. He was indeed the contemporary of Æschylus, and he admired the rapid rise of Athens in the Persian war; calling it "The Pillar of Greece, brilliant Athens, the worthy theme of poets." But the causes which determined his poetical character are to besought in an earlier period, and in the Doric and Æolic parts of Greece; and hence we shall divide Pindar from his contemporary Æschylus, by placing the former at the close of the early period, the latter at the head of the new period of literature.

Pindar's native place was Cynocephalæ, a village in the territory of Thebes, the most considerable city of Bœotia. Although in his time the voices of Pierian bards, and of epic poets of the Hesiodean school had long been mute in Bœotia, yet there was still much love for music and poetry, which had taken the prevailing form of lyric and choral compositions. That these arts were widely cultivated in Bœotia is proved by the fact that two women, Myrtis and Corinna, had attained great celebrity in them during the youth of Pindar. Both were competitors with Pindar in poetry. Myrtis strove with him for a prize at public games: and although Corinna said, "It is not meet that the clear toned Myrtis, a woman born, should enter the lists with Pindar[2]:" yet she is said (perhaps from jealousy of his growing fame) to have often contended against him in the agones, and to have gained the victory over him five times[3]. Pausanias, in his travels, saw at Tanagra, the native city of Corinna, a picture in which she was represented as binding her head with a fillet of victory which she had gained in a contest with Pindar. He supposes that she was less indebted for this victory to the excellence of her poetry than to her Bœotian dialect, which was more familiar to the ears of the judges at the games, and to her extraordinary beauty. Corinna also assisted the young poet with her advice; it is related of her that she recommended him to ornament his poems with mythical narrations, but that when he had composed a hymn, in the first six verses of which (still extant) almost the whole of the Theban mythology was introduced, she smiled and said, "We should sow with the hand, not with the whole sack." Too little of the poetry of Corinna has been preserved to allow of our forming a safe judgment of her style of composition. The extant fragments refer mostly to mythological subjects, particularly to heroines of the Bœotian legends; this, and her rivalry with Pindar, show that she must be classed not in the Lesbian school of lyric poets, but among the masters of choral poetry.

The family of Pindar seems to have been skilled in music; we learn from the ancient biographies of him that his father, or his uncle, was a flute-player. Flute-playing (as we have more than once remarked was brought from Asia Minor into Greece; its Phrygian origin may perhaps be indicated by the fact that Pindar had in his house at Thebes a small temple of the Mother of the gods and Pan, the Phrygian deities, to whom the first hymns to the flute were supposed to have been sung[4]. The music of the flute had moreover been introduced into Bœotia at a very early period; the Copaic lake produced excellent reeds for flutes, and the worship of Dionysus, which was supposed to have originated at Thebes, required the varied and loud music of the flute. Accordingly the Bœotians were early celebrated for their skill in flute-playing; whilst at Athens the music of the flute did not become common till after the Persian war, when the desire for novelty in art had greatly increased[5].

§ 2. But Pindar very early in his life soared far beyond the sphere of a flute-player at festivals, or even a lyric poet of merely local celebrity. He placed himself under the tuition of Lasus of Hermione, a distinguished poet, already mentioned, but probably better versed in the theory than the practice of poetry and music. Since Pindar made these arts the whole business of his life[6], and was nothing but a poet and a musician, he soon extended the boundaries of his art to the whole Greek nation, and composed poems of the choral lyric kind for persons in all parts of Greece. At the age of twenty he composed a song of victory in honour of a Thessalian youth belonging to the gens of the Aleuads[7]. We find him employed soon afterwards for the Sicilian rulers, Hiero of Syracuse, and Thero of Agrigentum; for Arcesilaus, king of Cyrene, and Amyntas, king of Macedonia, as well as for the free cities of Greece. He made no distinction according to the race of the persons whom he celebrated: he was honoured and loved by the Ionian states, for himself as well as for his art; the Athenians made him their public guest (πρόξενος); and the inhabitants of Ceos employed him to compose a processional song (προσόδιον), although they had their own poets, Simonides and Bacchylides. Pindar, however, was not a common mercenary poet, always ready to sing the praises of him whose bread he ate. He received indeed money and presents for his poems, according to the general usage previously introduced by Simonides; yet his poems are the genuine expression of his thoughts and feelings. In his praises of virtue and good fortune, the colours which he employs are not too vivid; nor does he avoid the darker shades of his subject; he often suggests topics of consolation for past and present evil, and sometimes warns and exhorts to avoid future calamity. Thus he ventures to speak freely to the powerful Hiero, whose many great and noble qualities were alloyed by insatiable cupidity and ambition, which his courtiers well knew how to turn to a bad account. Pindar exhorts him to tranquillity and contentedness of mind, to calm cheerfulness, and to clemency, saying to him[8]: "Be as thou knowest how to be; the ape in the boy's story is indeed fair, very fair; but Rhadamanthus was happy because he plucked the genuine fruits of the mind, and did not take delight in the delusions which follow the arts of the whisperer. The venom of calumny is an evil hard to be avoided, whether by him who hears or by him who is the object of it; for the ways of calumniators are like those of foxes." Pindar speaks in the same free and manly tone to Arcesilaus IV., king of Cyrene, who afterwards brought on the ruin of his dynasty by his tyrannical severity, and who at that time kept Damophilus, one of the noblest of the Cyreneans, in unjust banishment. "Now understand the enigmatic wisdom of Œdipus. If any one lops with a sharp axe the branches of a large oak, and spoils her stately form, she loses indeed her verdure, but she gives proof of her strength, when she is consumed in the winter fire, or when, torn from her place in the forest, she performs the melancholy office of a pillar in the palace of a foreign prince[9]. Thy office is to be the physician of the country: Pæan honours thee; therefore thou must treat with a gentle hand its festering wounds. It is easy for a fool to shake the stability of a city; but it is hard to place it again on its foundations, unless a god direct the rulers. Gratitude for these good deeds is already in store for thee. Deign therefore to bestow all thy care upon the wealthy Cyrene[10]."

Thus lofty and dignified was the position which Pindar assumed with regard to these princes; and he remained true to the principle which he so frequently proclaims, that frankness and sincerity are always laudable. But his intercourse with the princes of his time appears to have been limited to poetry. We do not find him, like Simonides, the daily associate, counsellor, and friend of kings and statesmen; he plays no part in the public events of his time, either as a politician or a courtier. Neither was his name, like that of Simonides, distinguished in the Persian war; partly because his fellow-citizens, the Thebans, were, together with half of the Grecian nation, on the Persian side, whilst the spirit of independence and victory were with the other half. Nevertheless the lofty character of Pindar's muse rises superior to these unfavourable circumstances. He did not indeed make the vain attempt of gaining over the Thebans to the cause of Greece; but he sought to appease the internal dissensions which threatened to destroy Thebes during the war, by admonishing his fellow citizens to union and concord[11]: and after the war was ended, he openly proclaims, in odes intended for the Æginetans and Athenians, his admiration of the heroism of the victors. In an ode, composed a few months after the surrender of Thebes to the allied army of the Greeks[12] (the seventh Isthmian), his feelings appear to be deeply moved by the misfortunes of his native city; but he returns to the cultivation of poetry as the Greeks were now delivered from their great peril, and a god had removed the stone of Tantalus from their heads. He expresses a hope that freedom will repair all misfortunes: and he turns with a friendly confidence to the city of Ægina, which, according to ancient legends, was closely allied with Thebes, and whose good offices with the Peloponnesians might perhaps raise once more the humbled head of Bœotia.

§ 3. Having mentioned nearly all that is known of the events of Pindar's life, and his relations to his contemporaries, we proceed to consider him more closely as a poet, and to examine the character and form of his poetical productions.

The only class of poems which enable us to judge of Pindar's general style are the epinikia or triumphal odes. Pindar, indeed, excelled in all the known varieties of choral poetry; viz. hymns to the gods, pæans and dithyrambs appropriate to the worship of particular divinities, odes for processions (προσόδια), songs of maidens (παρθένεια), mimic dancing songs (ὑπορχήματα), drinking songs (σκόλια), dirges (θρῆνοι), and encomiastic odes to princes (ἐγκώμια), which last approached most nearly to the epinikia. The poems of Pindar in these various styles were nearly as renowned among the ancients as the triumphal odes; which is proved by the numerous quotations of them. Horace too, in enumerating the different styles of Pindar's poetry, puts the dithyrambs first, then the hymns, and afterwards the epinikia and the threnes. Nevertheless, there must have been some decided superiority in the epinikia, which caused them to be more frequently transcribed in the later period of antiquity, and thus rescued them from perishing with the rest of the Greek lyric poetry. At any rate, these odes, from the vast variety of their subjects and style, and their refined and elaborate structure,—some approaching to hymns and pæans, others to scolia and hyporchemes,—serve to indemnify us for the loss of the other sorts of lyric poetry.

We will now explain, as precisely as possible, the occasion of an epinikian ode, and the mode of its execution. A victory has been gained in a contest at a festival, particularly at one of the four great games most prized by the Greek people[13], either by the speed of horses, the strength and dexterity of the human body, or by skill in music[14]. Such a victory as this, which shed a lustre not only on the victor himself, but on his family, and even on his native city, demanded a solemn celebration. This celebration might be performed by the victor's friends upon the spot where the victory was gained; as, for example, at Olympia, when in the evening after the termination of the contests, by the light of the moon, the whole sanctuary resounded with joyful songs alter the manner of encomia[15]. Or it might be deferred till after the victor's solemn return to his native city, where it was sometimes repeated, in following years, in commemoration of his success[16]. A celebration of this kind always had a religious character; it often began with a procession to an altar or temple, in the place of the games or in the native city; a sacrifice, followed by a banquet, was then offered at the temple, or in the house of the victor; and the whole solemnity concluded with the merry and boisterous revel called by the Greeks κῶμος. At this sacred, and at the same time joyous, solemnity, (a mingled character frequent among the Greeks,) appeared the chorus, trained by the poet, or some other skilled person[17], for the purpose of reciting the triumphal hymn, which was considered the fairest ornament of the festival. It was during either the procession or the banquet that the hymn was recited; as it was not properly a religious hymn, which could be combined with the sacrifice. The form of the poem must, to a certain extent, have been determined by the occasion on which it was to be recited. From expressions which occur in several epinikian odes, it is probable that all odes consisting of strophes without epodes[18] were sung during a procession to a temple or to the house of the victor; although there are others which contain expressions denoting movement, and which yet have epodes[19]. It is possible that the epodes in the latter odes may have been sung at certain intervals when the procession was not advancing; for an epode, according to the statements of the ancients, always required that the chorus should be at rest. But by far the greater number of the odes of Pindar were sung at the Comus, at the jovial termination of the feast: and hence Pindar himself more frequently names his odes from the Comus than from the victory[20].

§ 4. The occasion of an epinikian ode,—a victory in the sacred games,—and its end,—the ennobling of a solemnity connected with the worship of the gods,—required that it should be composed in a lofty and dignified style. But, on the other hand, the boisterous mirth of the feast did not admit the severity of the antique poetical style, like that of the hymns and nomes; it demanded a free and lively expression of feeling, in harmony with the occasion of the festival, and suggesting the noblest ideas connected with the victor. Pindar, however, gives no detailed description of the victory, as this would have been only a repetition of the spectacle which had already been beheld with enthusiasm by the assembled Greeks at Olympia or Pytho; nay, he often bestows only a few words on the victory, recording its place and the sort of contest in which it was won[21]. Nevertheless he does not (as many writers have supposed) treat the victory as a merely secondary object; which he despatches quickly, in order to pass on to subjects of greater interest. The victory, in truth, is always the point upon which the whole of the ode turns; only he regards it, not simply as an incident, but as connected with the whole life of the victor. Pindar establishes this connexion by forming a high conception of the fortunes and character of the victor, and by representing the victory as the result of them. And as the Greeks were less accustomed to consider a man in his individual capacity, than as a member of his state, and his family; so Pindar considers the renown of the victor in connexion with the past and present condition of the race and state to which he belongs. Now there are two different points from which the poet might view the life of the victor; viz. destiny or merit[22]; in other words, he might celebrate his good fortune or his skill. In the victory with horses, external advantages were the chief consideration; inasmuch as it required excellent horses and an excellent driver, both of which were attainable only by the rich. The skill of the victor was more conspicuous in gymnastic feats, although even in these, good luck and the favour of the gods might be considered as the main causes of success; especially as it was a favourite opinion of Pindar's, that all excellence is a gift of nature[23]. The good fortune or skill of the victor could not however be treated abstractedly; but must be individualized by a description of his peculiar lot. This individual colouring might be given by representing the good fortune of the victor as a compensation for past ill fortune; or, generally, by describing the alternations of fortune in his lot and in that of his family[24]. Another theme for anode might be, that success in gymnastic contests was obtained by a family in alternate generations; that is, by the grandfathers and grandsons, but not by the intermediate generation[25]. If, however, the good fortune of the victor had been invariable, congratulation at such rare happiness was accompanied with moral reflections, especially on the right manner of estimating or enduring good fortune, or on the best mode of turning it to account. According to the notions of the Greeks, an extraordinary share of the gifts of fortune suggested a dread of the Nemesis which delighted in humbling the pride of man; and hence the warning to be prudent, and not to strive after further victories[26]. The admonitions which Pindar addresses to Hiero are to cultivate a calm serenity of mind, after the cares and toils by which he had founded and extended his empire, and to purify and ennoble by poetry a spirit which had been ruffled by unworthy passions. Even when the skill of the victor is put in the foreground, Pindar in general does not content himself with celebrating this bodily prowess alone, but he usually adds some moral virtue which the victor has shown, or which he recommends and extols. This virtue is sometimes moderation, sometimes wisdom, sometimes filial love, sometimes piety to the gods. The latter is frequently represented as the main cause of the victory: the victor having thereby obtained the protection of the deities who preside over gymnastic contests; as Hermes, or the Dioscuri. It is evident that, with Pindar, this mode of accounting for success in the games was not the mere fiction of a poet; he sincerely thought that he had found the true cause, when he had traced the victory to the favour of a god who took an especial interest in the family of the victor, and at the same time presided over the games[27]. Generally, indeed, in extolling both the skill and fortune of the victor, Pindar appears to adhere to the truth as faithfully as he declares himself to do; nor is he ever betrayed into a high flown style of panegyric. A republican dread of incurring the censure of his fellow citizens, as well as an awe of the divine Nemesis, induced him to moderate his praises, and to keep in view the instability of human fortune and the narrow limits of human strength.

Thus far the poet seems to wear the character of a sage who expounds to the victor his destiny, by showing him the dependence of his exploit upon a higher order of things. Nevertheless, it is not to be supposed that the poet placed himself on an eminence remote from ordinary life, and that he spoke like a priest to the people, unmoved by personal feelings. The Epinikia of Pindar, although they were delivered by a chorus, were, nevertheless, the expression of his individual feelings and opinions[28], and are full of allusions to his personal relations to the victor. Sometimes, indeed, when his relations of this kind were peculiarly interesting to him, he made them the main subject of the ode; several of his odes, and some among the most, difficult, are to be explained in this manner. In one of his odes[29], Pindar justifies the sincerity of his poetry against the charges which had been brought against it; and represents his muse as a just and impartial dispenser of fame, as well among the victors at the games, as among the heroes of antiquity. In another[30], he reminds the victor that he had predicted the victory to him in the public games, and had encouraged him to become a competitor for it[31]; and he extols him for having employed his wealth for so noble an object. In another, he excuses himself for having delayed the composition of an ode which he had promised to a wrestler among the youths, until the victor had attained his manhood; and, as if to incite himself to the fulfilment of his promise, he points out the hallowed antiquity of these triumphal hymns, connecting their origin with the first establishment of the Olympic games[32].

§ 5. Whatever might be the theme of one of Pindar's epinikian odes, it would naturally not be developed with the systematic completeness of a philosophical treatise. Pindar, however, has undoubtedly much of that sententious wisdom which began to show itself among the Greeks at the time of the Seven Wise Men, and which formed an important element of elegiac and choral lyric poetry before the time of Pindar. The apophthegms of Pindar sometimes assume the form of general maxims, sometimes of direct admonitions to the victor. At other times, when he wishes to impress some principle of morals or prudence upon the victor, he gives it in the form of an opinion entertained by himself: "I like not to keep much riches hoarded in an inner room; but I like to live well by my possessions, and to procure myself a good name by making large gifts to my friends[33]."

The other element of Pindar's poetry, his mythical narratives, occupies, however, far more space in most of his odes. That these are not mere digressions for the sake of ornament has been completely proved by modern commentators. At the same time, he would sometimes seem to wish it to be believed that he had been carried away by his poetical fervour, when he returns to his theme from a long mythical narration, or when he annexes a mythical story to a proverbial saying; as, for example, when he subjoins to the figurative expression, "Neither by sea nor by land canst thou find the way to the Hyperboreans," the history of Perseus' visit to that fabulous people[34]. But even in such cases as these, it will be found, on close examination, that the fable belongs to the subject. Indeed, it may be observed generally of those Greek writers who aimed at the production of works of art, whether in prose or in poetry, that they often conceal their real purpose; and affect to leave in vague uncertainty that which had been composed studiously and on a preconceived plan. Thus Plato often seems to allow the dialogue to deviate into a wrong course, when this very course was required by the plan of the investigation. In other passages, Pindar himself remarks that intelligence and reflection are required to discover the hidden meaning of his mythical episodes. Thus, after a description of the Islands of the Blessed, and the heroes who dwell there, he says, "I have many swift arrows in my quiver, which speak to the wise, but need an interpreter for the multitude[35]." Again, after the story of Ixion, which he relates in an ode to Hiero, he continues—"I must, however, have a care lest I fall into the biting violence of the evil speakers; for, though distant in time, I have seen that the slanderous Archilochus, who fed upon loud-tongued wrath, passed the greater part of his life in difficulties and distress[36]." It is not easy to understand in this passage what moves the poet to express so much anxiety; until we advert to the lessons which the history of Ixion contains for the rapacious Hiero.

The reference of these mythical narratives to the main theme of the ode may be either historical or ideal. In the first case, the mythical personages alluded to are the heroes at the head of the family or state to which the victor belongs, or the founders of the games in which he has conquered. Among the many odes of Pindar to victors from Ægina, there is none in which he does not extol the heroic race of the Æacids. "It is," he says, "to me an invariable law, when I turn towards this island, to scatter praise upon you, O Æacids, masters of golden chariots[37]." In the second case, events of the heroic age are described, which resemble the events of the victor's life, or which contain lessons and admonitions for him to reflect upon. Thus two mythical personages may be introduced, of whom one may typify the victor in his praiseworthy, the other in his blameable acts; so that the one example may serve to deter, the other to encourage[38]. In general, Pindar contrives to unite both these modes of allusion, by representing the national or family heroes as allied in character and spirit to the victor. Their extraordinary strength and felicity are continued in their descendants; the same mixture of good and evil destiny[39], and even the same faults[40], recur in their posterity. It is to be observed that, in Pindar's time, the faith of the Greeks in the connexion of the heroes of antiquity with passing events was unshaken. The origin of historical events was sought in a remote age; conquests and settlements in barbarian countries were justified by corresponding enterprises of heroes; the Persian war was looked upon as an act of the same great drama, of which the expedition of the Argonauts and the Trojan war formed the earlier parts. At the same time, the mythical past was considered as invested with a splendour and sublimity of which even a faint reflection was sufficient to embellish the present. This is the cause of the historical and political allusions of the Greek tragedy, particularly in Æschylus. Even the history of Herodotus rests on the same foundation; but it is seen most distinctly in the copious mythology which Pindar has pressed into the service of his lyric poetry. The manner in which mythical subjects were treated by the lyric poets was of course different from that in which they had been treated by the epic poets. In epic poetry, the mythical narrative is interesting in itself, and all parts of it are developed with equal fulness. In lyric poetry, it serves to exemplify some particular idea, which is usually stated in the middle or at the end of the ode; and those points only of the story are brought into relief, which serve to illustrate this idea. Accordingly, the longest mythical narrative in Pindar (viz., the description of the voyage of the Argonauts, in the Pythian ode to Arcesilaus, king of Cyrene, which is continued through twenty-five strophes) falls far short of the sustained diffuseness of the epos. Consistently with the purpose of the ode, it is intended to set forth the descent of the kings of Cyrene from the Argonauts, and the poet only dwells on the relation of Jason with Pelias—of the noble exile with the jealous tyrant—because it contains a serious admonition to Arcesilaus in his above-mentioned relation with Damophilus.

§ 6. The mixture of apophthegmatic maxims and typical narratives would alone render it difficult to follow the thread of Pindar's meaning; but, in addition to this cause of obscurity, the entire plan of his poetry is so intricate, that a modern reader often fails to understand the connexion of the parts, even where he thinks he has found a clue. Pindar begins an ode full of the lofty conception which he has formed of the glorious destiny of the victor; and he seems, as it were, carried away by the flood of images which this conception pours forth. He does not attempt to express directly the general idea, but follows the train of thought which it suggests into its details, though without losing sight of their reference to the main object. Accordingly, when he has pursued a train of thought, either in an apophthegmatic or mythical form, up to a certain point, he breaks off, before he has gone far enough to make the application to the victor sufficiently clear; he then takes up another thread, which is perhaps soon dropped for a fresh one; and at the end of the ode he gathers up all these different threads, and weaves them together into one web, in which the general idea predominates. By reserving the explanation of his allusions until the end, Pindar contrives that his odes should consist of parts which are not complete or intelligible in themselves; and thus the curiosity of the reader is kept on the stretch throughout the entire ode. Thus, for example, the ode upon the Pythian victory, which was gained by Hiero, as a citizen of Ætna, a city founded by himself[41], proceeds upon a general idea of the repose and serenity of mind which Hiero at last enjoys, after a laborious public life, and to which Pindar strives to contribute by the influence of music and poetry. Full of this idea, Pindar begins by describing the effects of music upon the gods in Olympus, how it delights, inspires, and soothes them, although it increases the anguish of Typhos, the enemy of the gods, who lies bound under Ætna, Thence, by a sudden transition, he passes to the new town of Ætna, under the mountain of the name; extols the happy auspices under which it was founded; and lauds Hiero for his great deeds in war, and for the wise constitution he has given to the new state; to which Pindar wishes exemption from foreign enemies and internal discord. Thus far it does not appear how the praises of music are connected with the exploits of Hiero as a warrior and a statesman. But the connexion becomes evident when Pindar addresses to Hiero a series of moral sentences, the object of which is to advise him to subdue all unworthy passions, to refresh his mind with the contemplation of art, and thus to obtain from the poets a good name, which will descend to posterity.

§ 7. The characteristics of Pindar's poetry, which have been just explained, may be discerned in all his epinikian odes. Their agreement, however, in this respect is quite consistent with the extraordinary variety of style and expression which has been already stated to belong to this class of poems. Every epinikian ode of Pindar has its peculiar tone, depending upon the course of the ideas and the consequent choice of the expressions. The principal differences are connected with the choice of the rhythms, which again is regulated by the musical style. According to the last distinction, the epinikia of Pindar are of three sorts, Doric, Æolic, and Lydian; which can be easily distinguished, although each admits of innumerable varieties. In respect of metre, every ode of Pindar has an individual character; no two odes having the same metrical structure. In the Doric ode the same metrical forms occur as those which prevailed in the choral lyric poetry of Stesichorus, viz., systems of dactyls and trochaic dipodies[42], which most nearly approach the stateliness of the hexameter. Accordingly, a serene dignity pervades these odes; the mythical narrations are developed with greater fulness, and the ideas are limited to the subject, and are free from personal feeling; in short, their general character is that of calmness and elevation. The language is epic, with a slight Doric tinge, which adds to its brilliancy and dignity. The rhythms of the Æolic odes resemble those of the Lesbian poetry, in which light dactylic, trochaic, or logaœdic metres prevailed; these rhythms, however, when applied to choral lyric poetry, were rendered far more various, and thus often acquired a character of greater volubility and liveliness. The poet's mind also moves with greater rapidity; and sometimes he stops himself in the midst of narrations which seem to him impious or arrogant[43]. A larger scope is likewise given to his personal feelings; and in the addresses to the victor there is a gayer tone, which at times even takes a jocular turn[44]. The poet introduces his relations to the victor, and to his poetical rivals; he extols his own style, and decries that of others[45]. The Æolic odes, from the rapidity and variety of their movement, have a less uniform character than the Doric odes; for example, the first Olympic, with its joyous and glowing images, is very different from the second, in which a lofty melancholy is expressed, and from the ninth, which has an expression of proud and complacent self-reliance. The language of the Æolic epinikia is also bolder, more difficult in its syntax, and marked by rarer dialectical forms. Lastly, there are the Lydian odes, the number of which is inconsiderable; their metre is mostly trochaic, and of a particularly soft character, agreeing with the tone of the poetry. Pindar appears to have preferred the Lydian rhythms for odes which were destined to be sung during a procession to a temple or at the altar, and in which the favour of the deity was implored in a humble spirit.

  1. For Pindar's life, see Boeckh's Pindar, tom. iii. p. 12. To the authorities there mentioned, may be added the Introduction of Eustathius to his Commentary on Pindar in Eustathii Opuscula, p. 32. ed. Tafel. 1832. (Eustath. Proœm. Comment. Pindar, ed. Schneidewin. 1837.)
  2. The following is the passage in Corinna's dialect:

    μέμφομη δὲ κὴ λιγούραν Μούρτιδ᾽ ἰώνγα
    ὅτι βάνα φοῦσ᾽ ἔβα Πινδάροιο ποτ᾽ ἔριν.

    Apollon. de Pronom. p. 924. B.

  3. Ælian, V. H. xiii. 24.
  4. Marm. Par. ep. 10.
  5. Aristot. Polit. viii. 7.
  6. Like Sappho, he is called μουσοποιός.
  7. Pyth. X. composed in Olymp. 69. 3. B. C. 502.
  8. Pyth. II. 72. (131.) This ode was composed by Pindar at Thebes, but doubtless not till after he had contracted a personal acquaintance with Hiero.
  9. In this allegory, the oak is the state of Cyrene; the branches are the banished nobles; the winter fire is insurrection; the foreign palace is a foreign conquering power, especially Persia.
  10. Pyth. IV.
  11. Polyb. iv. 31. 5. Fr. incert. 125. ed. Boeckh.
  12. In the winter of Olymp. 75. 2. b. c. 479.
  13. Olympia, Pythia, Nemea, Isthmia. Some of the epinikia, however, belong to other games. For example; the second Pythian is not a Pythian ode, but probably belongs to games of Iolaus at Thebes. The ninth Nemean celebrates a victory in the Pythia at Sicyon, (not at Delphi;) the tenth Nemean celebrates a victory in the Hecatombæa at Argos; the eleventh Nemean is not an epinikion, but was sung at the installation of a prytanis at Tenedos. Probably the Nemean odes were placed at the end of the collection, after the Isthmian; so that a miscellaneous supplement could be appended to them.
  14. For example, Pyth. XII., which celebrates the victory of Midas, a flute-player of Agrigentum.
  15. Pindar's words in Olymp. XI. 76. (93), where this usage is transferred to the mythical establishment of the Olympia by Hercules. The 4th and 8th Olympian, the 6th, and probably also the 7th Pythian, were sung at the place of the games.
  16. The 9th Olympian, the 3d Nemean, and the 2nd Isthmian, were produced at a memorial celebration of this kind.
  17. Such as Æneas the Stymphalian in Olymp. VI. 88. (150), whom Pindar calls "a just messenger, a scytala of the fair-haired Muses, a sweet goblet of loud-sounding songs," because he was to receive the ode from Pindar in person, to carry it to Stymphalus, and there to instruct a chorus in the dancing, music, and text.
  18. Ol. XIV. Pyth. VI. XII. Nem. II. IV. IX. Isthm.VII.
  19. Ol. VIII. XIII. The expression τόνδε κῶμον δέξαι doubtless means, "Receive this band of persons who have combined for a sacrificial meal and feast." Hence too it appears that the band went into the temple.
  20. ἐπικώμιος ὕμνος, ἐγκώμιον μέλος. The grammarians, however, distinguish the encomia, as being laudatory poems strictly so called, from the epinikia.
  21. On the other hand, we often find a precise enumeration of all the victories, not only of the actual victor, but of his entire family: this must evidently have been required of the poet.
  22. ὄλβος and ἀρετή.
  23. τὸ δὲ φυᾷ κράτιστον ἅπαν, Ol. IX. 100 (151), which ode is a development of this general idea. Compare above, ch. xv. near the end.
  24. Ol. II. Also Isthm. III.
  25. Nem. VI.
  26. μηκἰτι πάπταινε πόρσιον.
  27. As, e. g. Ol. VI. 77. (130). sqq. In the above remarks I have chiefly followed Dissen's Dissertation De Ratione poetica Carminum Pindaricorum, in his edition of Pindar, sect. i. p. xi.
  28. See above, ch. xiv. § 2.
  29. Nem. VII.
  30. Nem. I.
  31. I refer to this the sentiment in v. 27 (40); "The mind showed itself in the counsels of those persons to whom nature has given the power of foreseeing the future;" and also the account of the prophecy of Tiresias, when the serpents were killed by the young Hercules.
  32. Ol. XI.
  33. Nem. I. 31 (45).
  34. Pyth. X. 29. (46.)
  35. Ol. II. 83. (150.)
  36. Pyth. II. 54. (99.)
  37. Isthm. V. [VI.] 19. (27.)
  38. As Pelops and Tantalus, Ol. I.
  39. As the fate of the ancient Cadmeans in Theron, Ol. II.
  40. As the errors (ἀμπλακίαι) of the Rhodian heroes in Diagoras, Ol. VII.
  41. Pyth. I.
  42. The ancient writers on music explain how those trochaic dipodies were reduced to an uniform rhythm with the dactylic series. These writers state that the trochaic dipody was considered as a rhythmical foot, having the entire first trochee as its arsis, the second as its thesis; so that, if the syllables were measured shortly it might be taken as equivalent to a dactyl.
  43. Ol. I. 52. (82.) IX. 35.
  44. Ol. IV. 26. (40.) Pyth. II. 72. (131.)
  45. Ol. II. 86. (155.) IX. 100. (151.) Pyth. II. 79. (145.)