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Page:Odes of Pindar (Paley).djvu/26

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PREFACE.

when he educated Asclepius, whom the daughter of Phlegyas gave birth to, but died in child-bed." Then the poet tells the whole tale of that event in fifty verses. Nem. x. 49, "As Castor was a guest of one of the victor's ancestors, no wonder that he is great in the games; for Castor and his brother preside over them, living alternately in heaven and on earth." The story follows in about forty verses to the end of the ode.

These tales, which are very numerous, and told with admirable spirit, form the most pleasing part of Pindar's works. It must be admitted that they have sometimes the appearance of being as it were dragged in; but the explanation is very simple: the poet's object was to praise not only the victor but his clan, or even his city; and to do this in a manner most pleasing to them he was compelled to dwell on the local or family legends, nearly all of which turn on some supernatural proofs of favour, or on a more or less remote descent from the gods. On the subject of Aegina and the Aeacidae the poet is always specially eloquent, influenced, it seems, by traditions of a mythical relation between the presiding divinities of Aegina and Thebes.[1] He evidently thought that the ancient heroes of that island had attained to the utmost height of glory in war that man could attain to,

  1. Isthm. vii. 16.