By: Amanda Burciaga
“Pindar (522-438 B.C.), the greatest Greek lyric poet, brought choral poetry to perfection. Unlike the personal lyrics of his predecessors, his works were meant to be recited by choruses of young men and women and accompanied by music.”
Pindar’s early life:
Pindar was born at Cynoscephalae, near Thebes, in Boeotia of a very prominent aristocratic family. He is the son of Daiphantus and Cleodice. He comes from and musically talented background of Flute-players. Flute playing is important at Delphi in the worship of Apollo and was perfected and highly regarded at Thebes. His parents provided a good education for Pindar as he attended elementary school in Thebes, and later sent off to Athens, where he was educated under Apollodorus, Agathocles, and Lasus of Hermione, a competitor of Simonides. After receiving further education in Athens he returns to Thebes. When back in Thebes Pindar competed in poetry contests with Myrtis and Corinna. At the age of 20, Pinder composed his first ode, Pythian Ode X! His earliest preserved Olympian Ode was composed in 484. Pindar traveled a lot throughout the Greek world and achieved a Panhellenic reputation and numerous commissions.
What Pindar is known for:
Pindar is known for being the greatest lyric poet of ancient Greece and the master of epinicia, choral odes celebrating victories achieved in the Pythian, Olympic, Isthmian, and Nemean games. Pindar’s poetry borrowed certain fundamental characteristics from the cultural traditions of his native Boeotia. His poetry has a conservative attitude of absolute adherence to aristocratic values, a rigorous sense of piety, and a familiarity with the great mythological heritage that descended from the Mycenaean period, c. 16th–12th century bc, and achieved a first systematic presentation, significantly, in the work of Pindar’s Boeotian predecessor Hesiod toward the end of the 8th century. As a young man Pindar went to Athens to complete and refine his poetic education. Pindar had a love for poetry. There are approximately Seventeen volumes of Pindar’s poetry. These volumes are comprised of almost every genre of choral lyric, that was known in antiquity. Though only four of the seven books of epinicia have survived completely throughout time. And the only reason those four had survived was because they were chosen by a teacher as a schoolbook in the 2nd century ad and somehow got preserved their. These four volumes of poetry are supplemented by a lot of fragments, and 20th-century finds of papyri have helped to put the pieces back together to contributed to a deeper understanding of Pindar’s achievements. There is evidence that shows that epinicia were Pindar’s ultimate masterpieces. These are split up as Olympic, Pythian, Isthmian, or Nemean. The games in which the victories he celebrated were held; the epinicia number was a total of 44 odes in all. While traveling he would have seen the homes and places where people lived who were aristocrats and the courts of the tyrants whose triumphs he sang. Although he generally preferred to stay loyal to his native land and live in his home town of Thebes. Pindar’s character was very humble and his standards and values, like his poetry, changed little if at all over the corse of his life.
(Side note: An ode is a formal, often ceremonious lyric poem that addresses and often celebrates a person, place, thing, or idea. Its stanza forms vary.)
The opening stanza of Olympian 1 may give the reader a glimpse of Pindar’s effortlessly metaphorical and allusive style:
“Best of all things is water; but gold, like a gleaming fire
by night outshines all pride of wealth beside.
But, my heart, would you chant the glory of games,
look no farther than the sun”
The significance and Influence Pindar had in Ancient Greek Society:
Pindar’s style of writing has influenced poetry throughout the years. Poetry itself plays an important role in art and literature composed in Ancient Greece. Poems and any form of Ancient writing allow us to catch a glimpse of what is going through the mind of people decades older than us, who lived in a world nothing like modern Western Civilization.
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Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2015. Web. 10 Dec. 2015
“WEST, Gilbert. PINDAR. Odes of Pindar. – $950 | Heritage Book Shop | Rare & Antiquarian Books.” WEST, Gilbert. PINDAR. Odes of Pindar. – $950 | Heritage Book Shop | Rare & Antiquarian Books. Web. 10 Dec. 2015.
“Pindar.” – New World Encyclopedia. Web. 10 Dec. 2015.