IN the almost total loss of Greek lyric poetry the modern world has one consolation: the poet who closed the series of the masters was accounted the greatest of all. Sappho might be unapproachable in her kind; Stesichorus and Simonides might be preëminent in certain qualities respectively; but in range of power and loftiness of inspiration there was no rival to Pindar. This was the general and settled verdict of antiquity, in days when all the materials for a comparison existed. And though we possess only one class of Pindar's compositions, the class is that by which he had gained his widest popularity. If the Alexandrian critics had been asked to name any one kind of poem as characteristic of him, it is probable that they would have chosen the odes of victory, and there can be little doubt that the majority of ancient readers would have confirmed their choice. In relation to the development of Greek poetry, Pindar has a twofold interest: he continues the tradition which begins with Alcman and Stesichorus, while at the same time he may be regarded as, in a certain sense, the precursor of the Attic drama.
Little is known concerning his life. He was