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Pindar(pĭn`dər), 518?–c.438 B.C., Greek poet, generally regarded as the greatest Greek lyric poet. A Boeotian of noble birth, he lived principally at Thebes. He traveled widely, staying for some time at Athens and in Sicily at the court of Hiero I at Syracuse and also at Acragas (modern Agrigento). His chief medium was the choral lyric, and he set the standard for the triumphal ode or epinicion. Of his complete works 45 odes survive; these make one of the greatest collections of poems by a single author in Greek. His fragments are exceptionally numerous and some of them widely famous. The epinicia celebrate victories in athletic games: there are 14 Olympian odes, 12 Pythian odes, 11 Nemean odes, and 8 Isthmian odes. Each was written to be sung in a procession for the victor, usually on his return to his home city. The outstanding feature of each ode is its narrative myth, which is always connected with the winner. The myth makes appropriate the elevated moral tone and religious flavor characteristic of Pindar's poems. His style loses a great deal in translation. It has a high-flown diction and an intricate word order, dependent partly upon the complexity of his metrical requirements. Pindar wrote on commissions, but he was quite independent of any meretriciousness, because of his lofty conception of the poet's vocation.
The term Pindaric ode refers to a verse form used primarily in England in the 17th and 18th cent. The form, based on a somewhat faulty understanding of the metrical pattern used by Pindar, originated with Abraham CowleyCowley, Abraham
, 1618–67, one of the English metaphysical poets. He published his first volume of verse, Poetical Blossoms (1633), when he was 15. While a student at Cambridge, Cowley wrote three plays and began the scriptural epic Davideis
..... Click the link for more information. in his Pindarique Odes (1656) and was later used by John DrydenDryden, John,
1631–1700, English poet, dramatist, and critic, b. Northamptonshire, grad. Cambridge, 1654. He went to London about 1657 and first came to public notice with his Heroic Stanzas (1659), commemorating the death of Oliver Cromwell.
..... Click the link for more information. , among others. It is characterized by irregularity in the rhyme scheme, length of the stanzas, and number of stresses in a line.
See his works (tr. by L. R. Farnell, 1930–32); his odes (tr. by R. Lattimore, 1976); studies by F. T. Nisetich (1980) and K. Crotty (1982).
Born circa 518 B.C.; died 442 or 438 B.C. Ancient Greek poet.
The only works by Pindar that have survived in their entirety are four books of epinician odes, triumphant choral hymns glorifying the victors of the Panhellenic games. The conditions for achieving a victory—the athlete’s favorable destiny, talent, and efforts—give rise to the poet’s reflections. Pindar ponders the might of the gods and man’s inability to know their intentions, reminisces about mythical heroes and the winner’s ancestors, and calls for the complete development of the qualities inherent in man. The epinician odes are distinguished by their elemental force of language, the bold associative quality of the poetic conception, and the richness of rhythmic pattern.
PUBLICATIONSPindari carmina cum fragmentis, parts 1-2. Edited by B. Snell. Leipzig, 1964-71.
In Russian translation:
“Ody.” In Vestnik drevnei istorii, 1973, nos. 2-4.
REFERENCESIarkho, V. N., and K. P. Polonskaia. Antichnaia lirika. Moscow, 1967.
Gerber, D. E. A Bibliography of Pindar, 1513-1966 [no place, no date].