Prophesy (manteueo), Muse, and I will be your interpreter (prophateuso).
(Pindar, Fr. 150)
And I touch nothing with falsehood.
(Pindar, Nemean I.1)
|1The life-world as a theatre of reflexive praxis|
|2The heroic ethic in reflexive mimesis|
|3Gods and Men|
|4Death and the Elysian Fields|
|5Death and the poetic Logos|
|6Conclusion: Pindar’s world|
For we are but of yesterday, and know nothing, because our days upon earth are a shadow.
The work of the Theban poet Pindar presents us with something like a case study of the transition from the oral poetry of the latter part of the Archaic period to the crafted, complex compositions of the age of literary consciousness. Pindar’s life coincided with the decline of the traditional aristocracy and the spread of the democratic polis (c. 518-438 BC). He died at the very moment when the Greek enlightenment was in full flood and can be said to mark the end of the great experiment in lyrical expression. What follows is an exploration of the rhetorical preconditions for the Pindaric self and its role in defining some of the contours of Greek intellectual culture. I will try to show that the self-conscious ornamentation and aesthetic reflectiveness of his poetry trace some of the fundamental tensions and contradictions at work in the social and cultural changes experienced during the middle decades of the fifth century.