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Pindar's stated residence was at Thebes (ras fparetvov u5wp irlo/^ai, Ol. vi. 85), though he frequently left home in order to witness the great public games, and to visit the states and distinguished men who courted his friendship and employed his services. In the public events of the time he appears to have taken no share. Polybius (iv. 31. § 5) quotes some lines of Pindar to prove that the poet recommended his countrymen to remain quiet and abstain from uniting with the other Greeks in opposition to the Persians ; but there can be little doubt that Pindar in these lines exhorts his fellow-citizens to maintain peace and concord, and to abstain from the internal dissensions which threatened to ruin the city. It is true that he did not make the unavailing effort to win over his fellow-citizens to the cause of Greek independence ; but his heart was with the free party, and after the conclusion of the war he openly expressed his admiration for the victors. Indeed the praises which he bestowed upon Athens, the ancient rival of Thebes, displeased his fellow-citizens, who are said even to have fined him in consequence. It is further stated that the Athenians paid the fine (Eustath. Vit. Find.; Pseudo-Aeschin. Ep. 4); but the tale does not deserve much credit.
The poems of Pindar show-that he was penetrated with a strong religious feeling. He had not imbibed any of the scepticism which began to take root at Athens after the close of the Persian war. The old myths were for the most part realities to him, and he accepted them with implicit credence, except when they exhibited the gods in a point of view which was repugnant to his moral feelings. For, in consequence of the strong ethical sense which Pindar possessed, he was unwilling to believe the myths which represented the gods and heroes as guilty of immoral acts ; and he accordingly frequently rejects some tales and changes others, because they are inconsistent with his conceptions of the gods (comp. Grote, Hist, of Greece, vol. i. p. 507, &c.). Pindar was a strict observer of the worship of the gods. He dedicated a shrine to the mother of the gods near his own house at Thebes (Paus. ix. 25. § 3 ; Philostr. Sen. Imag. ii. 12 ; comp. Pind. Pyfh. iii. 77). He also dedicated to Zeus Ammon, in Libya, a statue made by Ca-lamis (Paus. ix. 16. § 1), and likewise a statue in Thebes to Hermes of the Agora (Paus. ix. 17. § 1). He was in the habit of frequently visiting Delphi; and there seated on an iron chair, which was reserved for him, he used to sing hymns in honour of Apollo. (Paus. x. 24. § 4.)
The only poems of Pindar which have come down to us entire are his JEpinicia, or triumphal odes. But these were only a small portion of his works. Besides his triumphal odes he wrote hymns to the gods, paeans, dithyrambs, odes for processions (Trpoff68ia\ songs of maidens (vrapflepeia), mimic dancing songs (uTro^^aTo), drinking-songs ((r/co-Aia), dirges (frpijvoi), and encomia (e7«:wiua), or panegyrics on princes. Of these we have numerous fragments. Most of them are mentioned in the well-known lines of Horace (Carm. iv. 2):
" Seu per audaces nova dithyrambos Verba devolvit numerisque fertur -Lege solutis:
Seu deos (hymns and paeans) regesve (encomia-)
canit, deorum Sanguinem: —
Sive quos Elea domum reducit Palma caelestes (the Epinicia) :— Flebili sponsae juvenenive rap turn Plorat" (flie dirges).
In all of these varieties Pindar equally excelled, as we see from the numerous quotations made from them by the ancient writers, though they are generally of too fragmentary a kind to allow us to form a judgment respecting them- Our estimate of Pindar as a poet must be formed almost exclusively from his Epinicia, which were all composed in commemoration of some victory in the public games, with the exception of the eleventh Nemean, which was written for the installation of Aristagoras in the office of Prytanis at Tenedos. The Epinicia are divided into four books, celebrating respectively the victories gained in the Olympian, Pythian, Nemean, and Isthmian games. In order to understand them properly we must bear in mind the nature of the occasion for which they were composed, and the object which the poet had in view. A victory gained in one of the four great national festivals conferred honour not only upon the conqueror and his family, but also upon the city to which he belonged. It was accordingly celebrated with great pomp and ceremony. Such a celebration began with a procession to a temple, where a sacrifice was offered, and it ended with a banquet and the joyous revelry, called by the Greeks Kcojuos. For this celebration a poem was expressly composed, which was sung by a chorus, trained for the purpose, either by the poet himself, or some one acting on his behalf. The poems were sung either during the procession to the temple or at the comus at the close of the banquet. Those of Pindar's Epinician odes which consist of strophes without epodes were sung during the procession, but the majority of them appear to have been sung at the comus. For this reason they partake to some extent of the joyous nature of the occasion, and accordingly contain at times jocularities which are hardly in accordance with the modern notions of lyric poetry. In these odes Pindar rarely describes the victory itself, as the scene was familiar to all the spectators, but he dwells upon the glory of the victor, and celebrates chiefly either his wealth (oASos) or his skill (dperrf),—-his wealth, if he had gained the victory in the chariot-race, since it was only the wealthy that could contend for the prize in this contest; his skill, if he had been exposed to peril in the contest. He frequently celebrates also the piety and goodness of the victor ; for with the deep religious feeJing, which pre-eminently characterizes Pindar, he believed that the moral and religious character of the conqueror conciliated the favour of the gods, and gained for him their support and assistance in the contest. For the same reason he dwells at great length upon the mythical origin of the person whose victory he extols, and connects his exploits with the similar exploits of the heroic ancestors of the race or nation to which he belongs. These mythical narratives occupy a very prominent feature in almost all of Pindar's odes ; they are not introduced for the sake of ornament, but have a close and intimate connection with the whole object and purpose of each poem, as is clearly pointed out by