Pindar's Pythian Odes: Essays in Interpretation

Pindar's Pythian Odes: Essays in Interpretation

Pindar's Pythian Odes: Essays in Interpretation

Pindar's Pythian Odes: Essays in Interpretation

Excerpt

This book has grown out of a course of lectures on the Pythian Odes delivered to undergraduates at Oxford over a period of several years. Its method is to examine the structure and content of each ode as a finished work; and a continuous essay on each has seemed to me the most suitable form. The book cannot be read except in close conjunction with the Greek. It contains much in the body of its text which might perhaps be thought more at home in a commentary, or which in a book of essays is usually relegated to notes and appendices, but I have deliberately chosen to write it in this way, first, because it makes for greater case of reading, secondly, because of a conviction that in a book of this type, what is worth saying should as far as possible be said in the main text. The reader will not, however, find here a substitute for a detailed commentary: textual, linguistic, and grammatical points are not discussed except where relevant to my main purpose, which is to interpret Pindar's meaning; and the whole subject of metre is virtually ignored.

The views here expressed have little claim to originality. On the contrary, my task, more often than not, has been to consider the opinions of scholars whose writings on Pindar I have read, to test them against as careful a reading of his Greek as I have felt to be within my powers, and to accept, to reject, or to suspend judgment. In some cases I may have adduced new arguments and followed further than has been done hitherto the implications of opinions discussed; in others (and these are the majority) I have been content to re-consider old arguments.

Throughout the writing of this book I have endeavoured to keep the following aims in view: to study conscientiously what Pindar wrote, to examine his forms of expression, his methods of composition and his modes of thought, to illustrate these from his own works and from those of his predecessors and contemporaries, and to present the results of my reflections in literary form. I have tried to steel myself as far as possible against subjective judgments, freak interpretations, and obsessive theories and to avoid the temptation, which many have found irresistible when confronted with a poet of Pindar's genius, 'to lose myself in a mystery and pursue my reason to an O altitudo!' Conversation . . .

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