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DIED B.C. 442.

LTHOUGH Pindar was regarded by the Greeks generally as their greatest writer of choral poetry, he is mentioned by very few contemporary authors, and all that is known of his life is gathered from biographies compiled several hundred years after his death. From them we learn that he was born at Thebes, or an adjacent village. about 552 B.C. His family, we are told, excelled in fluteplaying, the national art of Boeotia,-and he himself boasts, in one of his odes, of a descent from Spartan ancestors, and, on his mother's side, from an Arcadian nymph. Having received a musical education from an uncle, he went, while still a youth, to study the lyre at Athens, and, returning home at the age of twenty, established his reputation as a poet by a choral ode in celebration of the success of a young Thessalian at the Pythian games. From this time his fame spread throughout Greece and Sicily, and his life was spent in his native city,-where the site of his house, beside the fountain of Dirce, was respected for centuries afterwards,—in the production of similar compositions, and in visiting the festivals at Olympia, Pytho, Nemea, and the Isthmus, which furnished the themes for most of them. A legend records that, when a boy, a swarm of bees settled on his lips whilst he was asleep and filled his mouth with their honey. He was also believed to be a familiar guest with the priests of Delphi, where an iron chair used by him was shown as one

of the curiosities of the temple; whilst at Athens a statue was erected to him, and the Rhodians engraved one of his odes in golden letters on their temple to Minerva.

In order to understand the style and construction of his poems, some acquaintance is needed with the nature and scope of choral odes generally; and they may be shortly described as a combination of poetry, music, and dancing, adapted either to the service of religion, the celebration of human exploits, or the enlivenment of public and private banquets. The Pæon was a hymn to Apollo, blending with the music of the lyre; whilst the Dithyramb was a recitation, accompanied by the shrill notes of the flute, in honour of Dionysus, the god of revelry; and the Hyporchema, a mimic representation of some event, with musical embellishment. Their metrical composition consisted of three divisions or stanzas,―the first called the strophe, the second the antistrophe, and the third the epode, or any number of them in the same sequence, the two former corresponding line for line, and foot for foot, and the rhythm of the latter being different. It must also be remembered that the ode was chanted by a procession of dancers, who sang the strophe and antistrophe advancing and retiring, and the epode while they rested. Very little is known as to the music, except that both stringed and wind instruments were employed. The Greeks seem to have been ignorant of harmony, but their scales included quarter tones, and their time and rhythm were far more intricate than ours. The subjectmatter of the odes was derived from various sources, almost every event of public and private life furnishing the occasion for one, and in many of the states a troupe of singers and dancers was maintained for their performance at the shortest notice. The leading ideas of most of them were drawn from the loves and the wars of the gods, and the fabled glories of the old heroic houses, interspersed with delicate allusions to the individual whose achievements they were intended to celebrate, and practical suggestions of morality and ambition.

Only a portion of Pindar's odes have been preserved, and these relate chiefly to the triumphs gained at the national festivals. It is, however, for their power of appealing to

the sympathies of all ages, rather than for the incidents which they commemorate, that they are admired by modern readers. To the Greek mind the contests themselves were events of such national importance that, at the most critical period of their history, when they were in danger of annihilation by the Persians, they would not omit the celebration of the Olympian festival; for in all their ancient warfare the battle was won by physical strength and dexterity, which were developed and matured by athletic training, and by public honours to the successful champions in the contests, which constantly took place in every village Hence the four great national games already mentioned, which were held at stated periods, were the most exciting assemblies known to the Greeks, and drew together a magnificent display of chariots and horses and muscular competitors, whose rivalries by day, and revelries by night, were witnessed by spectators from every state and colony, and exercised a social and moral influence throughout the Hellenic kingdom, far greater than peace, or war, or any political struggle. The victor in each of the races and matches was mounted on a tripod of bronze, and crowned with a wreath of olive branches, cut from the sacred groves with a golden sickle; public proclamation was made of his name, his parentage, and his native state; and his father and fatherland both acquired a share in his glory. The following ode is to the winner of a prize for flute-playing:


'I pray thee, queen of splendour, city of peerless grace,
Persephone's home; O thou, that on thy tower-clad hill
Dwellest, fair queen, beside the streams of pastoral Acragas !
Propitious greet, with favour of heaven, and man's goodwill,
The crown, at Pytho's festival, that glorious Midas won ;

And welcome him, victorious in that fair art, of old
That Pallas found, when wailed the Gorgons bold,
And she to music wove their dismal moan.'


'For inaiden-shrieks and hiss of horrible snakes she heard,
Forth flowing in plaintive strain with weary anguish fraught;
What time as Perseus did to death that sister- triad's third,
And ruin to the hosts of Seriphos' island brought;

And blindness therewithall he poured on Phorcus' immortal race; And Polydectes rued the gift, the son of Danae gave

To him, perforce, that made her wife and slave;

When headless lay Medusa, fair of face.'


Slain by the hero, sprung they say from golden rain.

But, when from his peril she had saved her champion dear,
Maiden Athene fashioned then the flute with its varied strain,

To echo back the wailing that smote upon her ear,
As clamorously forth from fell Euryale's maw it came.

So found the goddess, and forthwith on mortal man bestowed,
And named the strain her many-headed mode;
Memorial fair of each frequented game!'


'Through slender brass it flows; through many a reedy quill,
That grew by the Grace's town for choral dance renowned,
Innymph Cephisis' hallowed haunts; true witness of the dancers' skill!
Ne'er, save by toiling, mortal aught of bliss hath found;

But all that lacks, in our brief day, can destiny's power supply.
What fate ordains may none avoid; needs must a day befall
Of chances unforeseen, that, spite of all

Man's scheming, part will grant and part deny!'


This poem having no Epodes is supposed to have been sung in procession without the usual halts.

In many of the odes there is no apparent connection between the mythological allusions and the occasions for which they were written; and in others the hero's name and country are altogether omitted. Others again are so discursive that, to quote Pindar's own description of his poetry,'From theme to theme the bright applausive lay,

As bees from flower to flower, speeds on its changeful way;'

and it is consequently difficult to select specimens of his compositions that are fairly intelligible to the unitiated in mythical lore, or to those who lack the patience to unravel his tangled ideas.

In an ode of which the theme is the legend of the first Olympian festival, we have a concise list of the winners in the various games,

'In the stadium best to the goal that pressed,

Thy son Licymnius showed his speed,

Eonus, leader of Midea's host; Tegea of Echemus made her boast

In wrestling famed; and the boxer's meed

To Tiryus town Doryclus bore;
Mantinean Samus with coursers four
In the chariots won-Halirothius' son;
And all unerring flew Phrastor's spear;
With strength unrivalled Enicius flung
The massive stone in his grasp that swung,

And loud and long was his comrades' cheer.'


In another is the following fine description of the life

after death :

'How swiftest vengeance waits the guilty dead;

And for the sins men sin in realms of day,

'Neath earth a stern judge speaks the sentence dread
Of fate's resistless sway.

But by day alike and night

Upon the righteous rises ever light;

They dwell in a light unvexed of toil,

Nor need to task the weary soil,

Nor waters of the main,

For scant subsistance.

Tearless days they gain,

With those heaven-honoured ones in truth that joy;
While sinners cower 'neath weight of dire annoy.
Happiest they that thrice endure

Through life and death, and still from sin are pure.
For such Zeus leads to Cronus' tower,

Where round about the island-bower

Of blessed spirits strays

Breath of sea airs, and golden flowrets blaze,
Some on fair trees, some of the waters bred;

Wherewith themselves they garland hands and head.'


In the ninth Pythian ode the poet introduces the nymph Cyrenè, a heroine of Amazonian tastes :

'Small joy she found to guide the shuttle's tortuous round,
Or share the feasts her home-pent mates that cheered.

But brazen javelins she threw,

And savage beasts with brandished falchion slew,

Making in restful peace to dwell

The cattle of her sire, and yielding scanty space

To slumber's sweet embrace,

When on her weary eyes at dawn he fell.'

He tells also how an ancient king of Libya chose a husband for his daughter :—

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