Man and Poet
The frontispiece of the handsome folio edition of Pindar's odes printed at Oxford in 1697 shows the poet being crowned with laurel by Mercury and Apollo, while high above his head a Christian angel, unfurling a banner and flourishing a quill, sounds a blast upon his horn (see p. iii). This engraving sums up the attitude toward Pindar that had prevailed on the continent and in England since the first appearance of his odes in print in the early sixteenth century. On the one hand he was respected as the supreme lyric poet, renowned for his art, and on the other as the poet-priest, exemplary for his reverence to the gods. Joining a dedication to the Muses with serious moral and religious principles, Pindar could be celebrated both by classical and Christian authority, by the Greek gods, Mercury and Apollo, as well as by the Christian angel. Among poets of antiquity he was second only to Homer for his art and second to none in his religious devotion. He was important in the Renaissance not only for his poetry, but also for his person, and was regarded as an example of a poet who served God in his art and raised poetry to the most sacred of vocations. In order to understand the way in which the Renaissance approached his poetry, we must first consider Pindar the man.
Pindar's biography was of considerable interest to Renaissance critics, scholars, and poets, who were rediscovering the ancient Greek poets and were in a sense looking for a model among them. They were seek-