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PREFACE.

I have ventured to call Pindar the most genuine of the early Greek poets; and in the sense, that his extant works have come down to us on the whole less tampered with and less modernised than any others, I think this is true. In reading Pindar, we feel a well-founded confidence that we have before us the very words of one who lived at a known time and place. In Pindar too we have a poet sui generis. Standing widely apart from,—we can hardly say between,—the epic on one side and the dramatic on the other,—the lyric poetry of Pindar has the impress of a peculiar and quite unique genius. Chivalrous, if somewhat wanting in pathos, sententious rather than philosophical, jealous of his own fame though genial to others, patriotic without being illiberal, and combining real piety and trust in a divine superintendence with an unquestioning credulity in the wildest legends,[1] he is totally absorbed in

    over some of those nicer shades of meaning which the Greek language can so well express, I must beg the student not too hastily to conclude that I was therefore ignorant of them. Sometimes they cannot be rendered without clumsy verbiage.

  1. "Strange it may seem to us, that with all these clear perceptions the poet should yet retain in his teaching the wildest fictions of Hellenic theology. But these traditions, we must always remember, formed in those days an essential part of all poetic lore. Trained to receive them from its earliest years, a pious, reverential mind like Pindar's would be slow indeed to reject them wholly; rather he would try to mould and blend them into something at least which resembled consistence with the higher truths of his discernment. For a man so loyal and generous, scepticism on points like these was a feeling all but impossible. Indeed that his worship of the gods was as genuine in practice as in theory, we know from the records of an ancient and credible historian." (The "Nemean Odes of Pindar," by the Rev. Arthur Holmes, 1867.)