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Page:Odes of Pindar (Paley).djvu/12

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PREFACE.

respects an exceptional poet. Partly from the difficulty and somewhat archaic character of the Greek, partly from his highly figurative and "flowery" style, but chiefly from the nature of his subject, which is not human nature but human glory, he is not very extensively read in this country, nor perhaps by any but by students of the higher class; and with them he is not commonly a great favourite. The fact is, that Pindar, to use a hackneyed phrase, must be known to be appreciated. And to know him well must be the work and the study of years. And yet, as the earliest genuine Greek poet of antiquity—which, with the grave doubts that hang over the composition of the Homeric and the greater part at least of the Hesiodic poems,[1] I think he may fairly be called—he well deserves to hold a foremost place in our curriculum of classical studies.

Any one who attempts to render Pindar, with tolerable closeness, into readable English, will soon find that he has undertaken an extremely difficult, not to say a formidable task. It would be hard to conceive any two forms of literature more widely different than the chivalrous, sententious, highly florid style of the Greek lyric poet, and

  1. There is, at all events, less reason to suspect the "cooking" process in the Odes of Pindar than in any other poet of antiquity. But there is great probability, I fear, that in the form in which we have them, the works attributed to Homer and Hesiod are but compilations and adaptations of earlier compositions.