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xi
PREFACE.

lutely to admit of no other interpretation; for the poet there compares the person who is sent to impart the ode to a scytale or writing-staff,—a short wooden cylinder round which a paper was wrapped for penning brief messages. If the man carried with him the ode written, the comparison is utterly pointless. He is called a scytale because he performs the same part, vicariously, of communicating a message. It would be perfectly absurd to call an errand-boy figuratively "a note," simply because he carried a note to a friend's house. I cannot here go into this question at length, though quite prepared to do so, and though it is one of the greatest importance and interest. I will merely state in few words my present conviction,—that a written literature was entirely unknown to the Greeks even in the times of Pindar.

The great value attached to a hymn of victory composed by a poet of note, is clear from many passages. Pindar himself is conscious of his importance, and does not attempt to disguise it. Though only orally learnt, and orally perpetuated, an ode recording a great victory would not have been allowed to perish in any family. Every anniversary of the event would be duly solemnised by the performance or recitation of it. Pindar himself calls the comus-song" a long-lasting light of deeds of valour," "a much-talked-of hymn," "a much-ad-