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Page:Pindar in English Verse (Way 1922).djvu/9

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INTRODUCTION.


Though it is quite possible, and indeed probable, that the Epinician Odes do not represent Pindar's highest achievement in the realm of pure poetry, the student of history has every reason to be thankful that, of all his works, it is these that have escaped the ruin that has overtaken the rest. For they furnish us, perhaps more fully and more convincingly than any other remains of antiquity, with a solution of a problem which has troubled historians. Some of these have exclaimed against what they consider the narrow, short-sighted, parochial spirit of the Greeks generally, in failing to see that their material prosperity, their safety and true independence would be best secured, if not by frankly enrolling themselves under the hegemony of one strong state (preferably Athens), at least by a close federation as binding on each member as that of the United States of America. Still more writers have denounced what they consider the unpatriotic selfishness of the aristocratical party in the several states, their unscrupulous plottings and alliances with the enemies of their respective cities, and, when they gained the upper hand, their ruthless treatment of the democracies.

Does not Pindar furnish us with the key to this jealous isolation, by showing us how each city cherished a belief in its divine origin, how the first parent of each state, or its founder, was a divine being, whose very name it perpetuated—for in Pindar the name of the goddess-founder and