The Extant Odes of Pindar

The Extant Odes of Pindar

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The Extant Odes of Pindar

The Extant Odes of Pindar

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Probably no poet of importance equal or approaching to that of Pindar finds so few and so infrequent readers. the causes are not far to seek: in the first and most obvious place comes the great difficulty of his language, in the second the frequent obscurity of his thought, resulting mainly from his exceeding allusiveness and his abrupt transitions, and in the third place that amount of monotony which must of necessity attach to a series of poems provided for a succession of similar occasions.

It is as an attempt towards obviating the first of these hindrances to the study of Pindar, the difficulty of his language, that this translation is of course especially intended. To whom and in what cases are translations of poets useful? To a perfect scholar in the original tongue they are superfluous, to one wholly ignorant of it they are apt to be (unless here and there to a Keats) meaningless, flat, and puzzling. There remains the third class of those who have a certain amount of knowledge of a language, but not enough to enable them to read unassisted its more difficult books without an expenditure of time and trouble which is virtually prohibitive. It is to this class that a translation ought, it would seem, chiefly to address itself. An intelligent person of cultivated literary taste, and able to read the easier books in an acquired language, will feel himself indebted to a hand which unlocks for him the inner chambers of a temple in whose outer courts he had already delighted to wander. Without therefore saying that the merely ‘English reader’ may never derive pleasure and instruction from a translation of a foreign poet, for to this rule our current version of the Hebrew psalmists and prophets furnish one marked exception at least— still, it is probably to what may be called the half-learned class that the translator must preeminently look to find an audience.

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