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Daughters of heaven ;-Aglaia, thou
· Waft, Echo, now thy wing divine
With plumes in Pisa's valley won.'
* We jot down the following rough lines merely to show the different tone of the Dithyrambus from the majestic Epinician :
we should think that Pindar's boldness of imagery and luxuriance of language never deserted him ; but that in the Epinician Odes he had exercised a severer taste and a more exalted tone, than in his other compositions.
This might well be expected, when we come to consider the surpassing dignity of the occasions upon which these odes were composed, and the remoteness and variety of the countries to which they were sent. The Games which attracted the costly and laborious competition of princes and magistrates, must have been associated with feelings and solemnities of a very peculiar interest;—and the poet, whose odes were chanted in Rhodes, and in Sicily, in Cyrene, Lacedæmon, Corinth, Athens, and Lesbos, must have possessed a truly national fame, and almost all that was civilized in the world as his theatre. It should be remembered that the Olympic and other public Games were in their institution and accompaniments strictly religious solemnities, and the hymn which was composed upon the occasion of a victory was designed as much for the honour of the God as for the praise of
We ought to say that the Divinity was more regarded than the winner of the prize ; for it would have revolted the religious and the prudential feelings of a Greek of Pindar's age to have made the successful individual the principal figure in the hymn. The honour was in itself transcendant, and for that very
Down to our dance, gods !
Fresh gather'd in Spring!
See me advancing
Singing divine !
To lead thy bright quire !
Of Nemea's strand;
reason the praise was spread over as wide a surface as possible. A Nemesis attended on too great felicity: there was a certain jealousy in the gods which might be provoked by triumph and soothed by moderation ; it was thought possible to propitiate this avenging principle by voluntary abandonment of part of what was strictly due. Polycrates threw his diamond signet into the sea. The Athenians raised a marble statue to the goddess immediately after the battle of Marathon. Pindar directly attributes the success of the victor to a divinity, and is careful to pour his ' foaming cup of praise' over the city, the tribe, the ancestors, and even the servants of the winner. He rarely writes for a wrestler or pugilist without distinctly naming and commending his trainer, nor is the
groom, or the charioteer, or the horse forgotten. Sometimes the poet praises the master of the choric band, and sometimes he praises himself. Every thing is praised, that Hiero or Diagoras may not have to bear the whole odium-the qfóvos-of the splendid triumph; severe admonitions to humility are not spared, and Pindar seldom fails to offer up a deprecating prayer-so to call it-in the character and with the solemnity of a priest.
Let any one peruse the Epinician Odes of Pindar with this clue, and he will clearly perceive that the Greek poet did not celebrate his patrons after the manner of the laureates of Louis's court; he studiously avoids a concentration of eulogy upon one head; the victory is in stronger relief than the victor, and the splendour of the victory is almost merged in the general and enduring glory of the Games themselves. Moreover Pindar addresses even Hiero and Arcesilaus as their guest and friend; his tone towards men of lower rank is that of a man conferring a gift. He ends his first great Ode to Hiero thus :
En o's te TOUTON
λανας εόντα παντα. .
To tread the path sublime ;
To live, conspicuous still,
For the wise poet's skill,
Wherever Greece extends.'-Cary. He puts on their wreath of victory, and sticks amaranth in the midst of it-to flourish when the olive or the parsley should be withered. He is conscious that he gives more than he receives, and is at no pains to conceal it. The dignity of the poet was surely never pitched so high, or so majestically maintained. The respect which Pindar demanded was willingly paid.
The homage homage was universal and enthusiastic. The Amphictyonic Council decreed to him a right to the public hospitality of every town of Greek name; the Pythian oracle ordered a portion of the Theoxenia-a species of sacrificial offerings-to be set apart for Pindar's use, a privilege which was continued to his descendants ; and an iron chair; or throne, was assigned to him within the Delphic temple, in which, upon solemn occasions, the poet seated himself
, and recited his hymns to the people. Pausanias says * that the chair remained to his day, and that he had seen it and heard the tradition connected with it. An Epinician Ode by Pindar doubled the honours of victory in the games, and the fellow-countrymen of the winner made less account of his Olympic crown than of his mighty poet's praise. The Rhodians are said to have been so transported with admiration of the ode composed in honour of Diagoras, their giant boxer—the seventh Olympicthat they caused it to be inscribed in letters of gold and set up in the temple of the Lindian Minerva. From such remarkable testimonies to the merit of a living poet—who had his rivals and enemies—we might reasonably conclude that the Greeks of the most splendid age of Greece saw nothing obscure or rambling in the works which they so fervently admired. The Rhodians would hardly have acquiesced in Cowley's criticism, although, upon the supposition of their understanding English, they might have said, or thought, something of the sort of Cowley's own Odes. If Pindar seems obscure, or rambling, to us, we must surely in all modesty suppose that a part of the fault is in ourselves. We ought to give this learned Theban the benefit of the old retort—intelligibilia non intellectum fero.
And yet that such a man as Cowley, besides so many others, should have made the same objection, and have even coupled Pindar with Lycophron, is certainly enough to make us examine, with some care, the probable grounds for such a charge. As to Lycophron, we must protest against the monstrous association. The Cassandra is obscure, in the strictest and worst sense of the term ; it is wilfully involved in verbal enigmas, which no skill in the language, no insight into the design, can possibly help us to solve without the aid of an interpretation which has come down from the times of the Grammarians. A poet who nakedly designates Hercules by the words τριέσπερος λέων, because that hero wore the Nemean lion's skin, and because, upon a certain occasion, three nights were put into one on his account, means evidently, before all other things, to propound riddles, which may be luckily guessed, but cannot possibly be construed by any scientific rules. We say this without meaning to dispute the genius of the poet of Chalcis ; there are passages in his work
* In Phoc.
YOL. LI. NO. CI.
which attest a very peculiar power ; and it is extraordinary that they should be disfigured by so preposterous a style. But Pindar presents no difficulties in his words taken by themselves ; his phraseology is plain enough, and his figures, although very bold and sometimes very complicated, are always obviously significant of the poet's sense at first reading. If there were corrupt metaphors in Pindar-which we deny-we believe they would little or not at all account for any person's difficulty in understanding his Odes ; even a bull is always perfectly intelligible; it is a fault in the logic of terms, but the intention of the speaker is not in the least degree rendered doubtful by it. Let us be allowed, by the way, a few words upon Pindar's figures.
Lyric poetry, although subjective in the highest degree, differs from Elegy in this,—that, whereas the latter is occupied in the expression of feelings connected with the past or the future, with sorrow or love-in short with reflections on that which is absent in the Ode the present is always predominant over every mood of time and space, and the poet associates himself with imagery directly presented to the eye of the reader. Hence it is that narration and description may find a place in lyric poetry; but the distinction between the imagery in Pindar and in Homer is this:-in the latter it is purely objective--the poet being a voice and nothing more ; whilst in Pindar everything is associated, and forms part, by way of likeness or contrast, of the one fundamental and pervading theme of the poem. The poet himself breathes in every line. It is, moreover, essential to lyric verse that the expression should at one time be highly condensed, at others drawn out and continuous-of both of which extremes Pindar presents numerous examples in almost every ode. Hence it is that the simile, in its most simple form of juxtaposition, is rarely adopted in these odes; and where it is so found, it is for the most part in cases in which a single word or phrase constitutes the object of comparison. For instance, κόρακες ως φελλός ώς αιθόμενον πύρ άτε διαπρέπει νυκτί- and a few more of the same sort. We do not remember six similes in Pindar in this simple form--the one almost exclusively employed in the Homeric and Hesiodic poems.
Both the principles which we just now noticed call for the closer and more impersonated form of the metaphor in lyric poetry, and Pindar has availed himself of it with unequalled boldness and variety. His favourite mode is to merge the subject in the object of the comparison--the thing to be illustrated in the thing which is to illustrate—and then to apply to the substituted image the train of thought, in fact, belonging to the primary subject; and not only so, but also frequently to revert to language which can only be attributed in strictness of terms to that primary subject, and which is incongruous with the object of comparison. Let us