« AnteriorContinuar »
troduced wantonly; they are all, without exception, connected with the victor in the contest upon one or other of several principles of association. In general the mythus arises naturally out of the family history of the hero, or of his tribe, or his city or country; less often it is founded upon the site of the games in which the prize was won,-as, for instance, in the first and third Olympics, and in a few others; and still more rarely the connexion is entirely, or in part, moral, -as in the magnificent first Pythian, where Typhæus is introduced generally as an example of pride punished, but with a particular application to Hiero, who had built a town at the foot of Etna—imposta Typhæo—and who had ordered himself to be proclaimed victor as an Etnean citizen. And Pindar usually observes this tasteful distinction—that when he means to admonish or reprehend, as he does whenever he sees fit, he takes his mythus from a foreign soil or an indifferent source, and never, but in one instance, brings up any of the victor's own kindred to shame him ; whereas, when the poet is for praise, as of course he more commonly is, he in almost every case selects his fable from a quarter which will be honourable and interesting to his patron at the same time. He warns by Typhæus or Ixion; he commends by saying — Thus that great man your mother's progenitor acted under similar circumstances; you have his blood in your veins ; do the same!' Once, as we hinted above, in the fifth Nemean, he falls upon a foul spot in the victor's family annals; he just touches it, and then waives it in his characteristic manner :
αίδέομαι μέγα ειπείν, εν δίκα σε
τατον ανθρώπων νοήσαι. .
A mighty deed less just than bold;
Her simple brow
We have said that Pindar first states the real, and then exhibits his ideal counterpart, We do not, however, mean that he always
commences his odes with the first, and proceeds, in mere order of time, to the second. That precision was no more necessary to his total composition, than it is that any subject should literally precede its predicate in a verbal proposition. He often enough inverts the natural order, and sometimes complicates it in a highly artificial way. But the common method of the Pindaric Ode is as thus,--AB-A; that is, it begins with the direct or actual --then takes up the mythic or ideal—and concludes by a resumption and exaltation of the actual with which it set out. The first Olympic is upon this plan. A more elaborate construction is as thus, A-B-C-B-A: what we mean by this cabala is, that
the principal mythus, or B, is sometimes broken into two parts, and either a minor mythus--C-is inserted, or the direct theme -A-resumed in the interspace ; whilst the whole,' cycle and epicycle, orb in orb,' is embraced within the sphere of the fundamental proposition. But enough of this—which we fear will tire all who are not such apasionados of Pindar as we confess to be. Besides, our master himself has admonished us well
βαια έν μακροΐσι ποικίλλειν, ακοα
σοφούς. . One word more. Amongst the many distinguishing qualities of Pindar's poetry, the most peculiar, as we partly hinted before, is the view which it presents of the Greek mythology. It is neither the gross, tangible anthropomorphism of the Iliad, nor the allegory of the Neo-Platonists, and least of all, the dark, inexorable destiny of the Tragedians. Pindar's faith is in the popular creed; he adheres with devout ardour to the dwellers on Olympus, and looks upon the earth-born Titans as angels justly fallen. have no doubt he regarded the · Prometheus Bound' of his great contemporary as a very irreligious work.
έστι δ'ανδρι φάμεν
λά μείων γαρ αιτία. .
Yet, although Pindar was strictly orthodox-nay, decidedly a high-churchman of the establishment of his country-his temper was so devout and his taste so exquisitely pure, that, perhaps unconsciously to himself, the popular system became in his hands retined and spiritualized-to the utm ost possible extent consistent with the demand of poetry for distinct and sensuous images. This is so apparent that it can hardly esca pe the observation of the most cursory reader of this great poet. Compare the Homeric Neptune's four strides to Ægæ, and his charioting thence over the glad ocean to Troy—a passage of first-rate splendour-with the
ο δ' αυτώ
παρ ποσί σχεδόν φάνηor the
πατρία όσσα of the same divinity in Pindar. In these and many similar passages, a power of instantaneous apparition is ascribed to the gods; they do not wait for their carriages, neither do they keep their suppliant in suspense, while they are dressing or arming themselves, neither do they convert themselves into bird, beast, or element; they are there and not there with a thought; they come and go as spirits should, in a mystery, although they are visible and tangible, in their own shapes, as Greek spirits had a right be. They never rebel against Jupiter, nor do they quarrel or fight with each other. They have no Greek or Trojan factions, and instead of persecuting man and stimulating war, they assist him against the evils of nature, and are best pleased with the arts of peace. True it is, the male divinities still retain their ancient prerogative of gallantry, but Pindar imputes no similar weakness to the goddesses of Olympus; and the union of mortal women with gods is mentioned with a modest reverence. It is evident that Pindar had a sense of the scandalous nature of some of the old stories, and was anxious to purify the system which he loved, from the just objections which the rising scepticism of the physical philosophers was ready to urge against it. The old mundane religion of powers or functions was his abhorrence; he required living personal godsbeings superior to man, but capable of sympathizing with himsuch as should link him with heaven, and ennoble him with celestial consanguinities, instead of degrading him without hope, as the puny after-growth of the exhausted earth. Of the popular religion so idealized, Pindar assumed the poetic priesthood; the prayers and praise which he offers have a sacerdotal tone; and there is a caution, a shrinking from irreverent language, which seems to imply an official necessity on his part, for superior individual piety. He addresses the laity from the altar. Mark and compare his absolute 'Adiotupal with the mock Odi profanum vulgus of the little Roman courtier. Horace has a thousand merits—but he was a French kind of Pindar.
It was Pindar's own subtle remark, that those who love not music are confounded with it, yea, though it be music of the spheres :
Πιερίδων άλοντα. It is as true of the poet himself. We never knew any scholar indifferent about Pindar. Either you love and venerate him-you carry him, .as the noble Romana did, in your pocket—or you cannot away with him at all. There is no medium.—But we must stop. We tender our thanks to Mr. Cary for the pleasure which the perusal of his translation has given us, and trust he will think it worth his while to go through his author once more with patience, and consider no pains lost by which vagueness may be removed and inaccuracies corrected. He needs not to be told by us, that every image should be distinct in Pindar --that every word should ring-that every thought should be stamped in characters of light. To the sublimity resulting from the obscure and the dimly-seen, Pindar has no claim; his figures are distinguishable in member, joint, and limb; their robes are sunbright, and the banners which they seem majestically to wave are bathed in the glory of high noon. Pindar was no David, no Æschylus, no Milton; and, with Dante's power, he would have abhorred Dante's subject. But such as he was, he stood, and he stands, aloft and aloof-unsurpassable—inimitable—incomparable; not the very greatest or the most affecting of poets, in an universal sense—but the one permitted instance of perfection in his own arduous, although particular, line-the absolute Master of Lyric song.
Can we part with Pindar, and not say one word at parting for his other translator? Poor Moore !—his last days were gloomy indeed. How bright the promise of his youth-how splendid the occasional coruscations of his happier hours in early manhood ! --stored with all scholarship, ebullient with inexhaustible wit, eloquent where need was, good humoured, and gentle to all. He died a broken-hearted exile; where his name, his talents, and misfortunes were alike unknown. We have not quoted much of his translation of his beloved Pindar ; let us do him some justice by transcribing a sonnet, which the faithful friend who has superintended the publication of his book has placed at the end of the second part:
On the Memory of a Lady to whom the Translations of Pindar's Odes
were, from time to time, communicated as the work proceeded.
Art. III.-On the Connexion of the Physical Sciences. By
Mrs. Somerville. THERE are two different ways in which Physical Science may
be made popularly intelligible and interesting: by putting forward the things of which it treats, or their relations ;-by dwelling on the substance of discoveries, or on their history and bearing ; -by calling up definite images and trains of reasoning; or by taking these for granted, and telling what can be told in general terms concerning such matters. Popular knowledge of the former kind ought to be conveyed by the public lecturer, when, by means of his models, his machines, his diagrams, he exhibits to the senses complexities of form and position which it would baffle us to conceive without such sensible representations. Popular knowledge of the latter kind may be conveyed by the same lecturer, when, turning from his apparatus, he explains to his audience the progress and prospects of his science, the relation of what is now doing to that which has already been done, the bearing of new facts in one subject upon theory in another. Each of these two methods has its appropriate place and its peculiar advantages. The former excites, notions perfectly distinct as far as they go, but is necessarily very limited in extent, because such notions cannot be caught and held without close attention and considerable effort; the latter method presents to us rapid views of connexion, dependence, and promise, which reach far and include much, but which are on that account necessarily incomplete and somewhat vague.