Pindar

Pindar statue.jpg
Pindar (/ˈpɪndər/; Greek: Πίνδαρος Pindaros, pronounced ; Latin: Pindarus; c. 522 – c. 443 BC) was an Ancient Greek lyric poet from Thebes. Of the canonical nine lyric poets of ancient Greece, his work is the best preserved. Quintilian wrote, "Of the nine lyric poets, Pindar is by far the greatest, in virtue of his inspired magnificence, the beauty of his thoughts and figures, the rich exuberance of his language and matter, and his rolling flood of eloquence, characteristics which, as Horace rightly held, make him inimitable." His poems can also, however, seem difficult and even peculiar. The Athenian comic playwright Eupolis once remarked that they "are already reduced to silence by the disinclination of the multitude for elegant learning". Some scholars in the modern age also found his poetry perplexing, at least until the 1896 discovery of some poems by his rival Bacchylides; comparisons of their work showed that many of Pindar's idiosyncrasies are typical of archaic genres rather than of only the poet himself. His poetry, while admired by critics, still challenges the casual reader and his work is largely unread among the general public.

Pindar was the first Greek poet to reflect on the nature of poetry and on the poet's role. Like other poets of the Archaic Age, he has a profound sense of the vicissitudes of life, but he also articulates a passionate faith in what men can achieve by the grace of the gods, most famously expressed in the conclusion to one of his Victory Odes:

Creatures of a day! What is anyone?
What is anyone not? A dream of a shadow
Is our mortal being. But when there comes to men
A gleam of splendour given of heaven,
Then rests on them a light of glory
And blessed are their days. (Pythian 8)

His poetry illustrates the beliefs and values of Archaic Greece at the dawn of the classical period.

Five ancient sources contain all the recorded details of Pindar's life. One of them is a short biography discovered in 1961 on an Egyptian papyrus dating from at least 200 AD (P.Oxy.2438). The other four are collections that weren't finalized until some 1600 years after his death:

Although these sources are based on a much older literary tradition, going as far back as Chamaeleon of Heraclea in the 4th century BC, they are generally viewed with scepticism today: much of the material is clearly fanciful. Scholars both ancient and modern have turned to Pindar's own work – his victory odes in particular – as a source of biographical information: some of the poems touch on historic events and can be accurately dated. The 1962 publication of Elroy Bundy's ground-breaking work Studia Pindarica led to a change in scholarly opinion—the Odes were no longer seen as expressions of Pindar's personal thoughts and feelings, but rather as public statements "dedicated to the single purpose of eulogizing men and communities." It has been claimed that biographical interpretations of the poems are due to a "fatal conjunction" of historicism and Romanticism. In other words, we know almost nothing about Pindar's life based on either traditional sources or his own poems. However, the pendulum of intellectual fashion has begun to change direction again, and cautious use of the poems for some biographical purposes is considered acceptable once more.

This page was last edited on 10 May 2018, at 07:45 (UTC).
Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pindar under CC BY-SA license.

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