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Page:Odes of Pindar (Paley).djvu/18

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xii
PREFACE.

mired hymn," etc.[1] When the period arrived, some generations later, when the oral compositions of the earlier bards began to be consigned to writing, it was this class of odes which would be the most easily recovered and the most religiously preserved.

To understand this the better, we must take a glance at the nature of the festivities held on the occasion of a victory (ἐπινίκια), and at the performance of the comus-song itself. It seems that a grand banquet was given to the victor and his friends by the members of his clan, in which hired choruses, with players on the pipe and the lute,[2] were engaged to sing the victor's praises. This was done either by a procession through the streets (κῶμος) to the house of the victor or the temple of his patron-god, or by a chorus of boys or men who danced and sang to music in the front court (πρόθυρον) of the house, or before the temple, or perhaps at the banquet itself. The processional comus-song has its modern counterpart in the bands of country-people who in some, perhaps most, of the romance countries may be seen coming down from the mountains in companies, headed by a person with a guitar, singing and stamping out a tune to

  1. Ol. i. 8; iv. 10; Nem. vii. 81; Isthm. iii. 39.
  2. Pindar mentions the two together in several passages; but in Ol. iii. 8, he speaks of a peculiar arrangement of words to the pipe and the lute as a recent invention of his own.