Open main menu

Page:Odes of Pindar (Paley).djvu/23

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

in his soul the valiant Antiloclius, whom the handsome son of the bright Morning (i.e., Memnon) slew." Now in Pyth. vi. 28–39 we have a full narrative of the whole affair. The very slight allusion to the suicide of Ajax, through his defeat in the contest for the armour of Achilles, in Od. xi. 545, cannot possibly have given rise to the fuller details in Nem. vii. 25 and viii. 23 seqq., and in the play of Sophocles.[1] In Nem. viii. 30 we find that Ulysses and Ajax both fought for the recovery of the body of Achilles; whereas the death of that hero by Paris is only spoken of as "looming in the distance" in the Iliad. In Isthm. vii. 47 it is said that "the mouths of poets[2] showed forth to the inexperienced the valour of Achilles, who slew Telephus, secured the return of the Atridae, and killed Memnon, Hector, and other chiefs;" and then he adds a passage nearly identical with that in Od. xxiv, 60 seqq., describing how the Muses came and wept over the pyre of Achilles. In fine, if any student will carefully compare (which he can easily

  1. The common opinion is, that the fuller details were borrowed from post-Homeric poets. Thus Mr. Jebb (Preface to the Ajax, p. vi.) says, "In the interval between the Odyssey and Pindar, the episode of the contest for the arms was elaborated by two epic writers, of whom Proclus has preserved fragments; by Arctinus of Miletus, circ. 780 B.C., in his Aethiopis; and by Lesches of Lesbos, circ. 700 B.C., in his Ilias Minor."
  2. σοφῶν στόματα, as if Pindar recognised several poets (the rhapsodists, doubtless), and so Thucydides mentions παλαιοὶ τῶν ποιητῶν, whereas we fancy that our Homer alone is the source of all these tales.