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These Odes were all composed to be sung by a Chorus, either at the entertainments given by the Conquerors (to whom they were inscribed) or their friends, on account of their victories, or at the folemn sacrifices made to the Gods upon those occasions. They consist generally of three stanzas, of which the following account was communicated to me by a learned and ingenious Friend.
" Besides what is said of the Greek Ode in the óc Scholiaft upon Pindar, I find (says he) the follow“ ing passage in the Scholia on Hephæstion ; it is the very
last paragraph of those Scholia.” The passage cited by him is in Greek, instead of which I Mall insert the Translation of it in English.
You must know that the Ancients (in their Odés) framed two larger stanzas, and one less; the first of the larger stanzas they called Strophé, singing it on their festivals at the altars of the Gods, and dancing at the same time. The second they called Antistrophé, in which they inverted the dance. The lesier fianza was named the Epode, which they sung standing still. The Strophé, as they say, denoted the motion of the higher Sphere, the Antistrophié that of the Planets, the È podle the fixed station and repose of the Earth.
“ From this passage it appears evident that these “ Odes were accompanied with dancing; and that “ they danced one way while the Strophé was singing, “ and then danced back again while the Antistrophé
was sung: Which Mews why those two Parts conv listed of the same length and meafure; then, when
" the Dancers were returned to the place whence they “ set out, before they renewed the dance they stood “ ftill while the Epode was sung.
“ If the same persons both danced and sung, when “ we consider how much breath is required for a full
Song, perhaps one may incline to think, that the
Strophé and Antistrophé partook something of the “ Recitative manner, and that the Epode was the
more coinpleat Air.
“ There is a passage in the ancient Grammarian, “ Marius Victorinus, which is much to the fame purin pose as this above, though he does not distinctly ~ 1peak of dancing. The passage is this :
Pleraque Lyricorum carminum, quze versu, colifque & commatibus componuntur, ex Strophé,
Antistrophé, & Epodo, ut Græci appellant, ordinata "s fubiifunt. Quorum ratio talis eft. Antiqui Deo
laudes carminibus comprehenfas, circum aras eorum euntas canebant. Cujus primum ambitum, “ quem ingrediebantur ex parte dextrâ, Strophen “ vocabant; reverfionem autem finiftrosum factam,
completo priore orbe, Antistrophen appellabant. “ Deinde in conspectu Deorum foliti confiftere cantici,
reliqua confequebantur, appellantes id Epodon.
“ The Writers I have quated speak only of Odes, “ sung in the temples : but Deinetrius Triclinius,
upon the measures of Soplocies, says the same thing upon the Oules of the Tragick Chorus.
" What the Scholiaft upon Hephæstion, cited above, “ adds about the Heavenly Motions, &c. is also said
" by Vietcrinus, and by Demetrius Triclinius, and
likewise by the Scholiast on Pindar. Yet I consider “ this in no other light, than I do the fantastical con* ceits with which the Writers on Music abound. “ Ptolemy, out of his three Books of Harmonics, “ employs one almost entirely upon comparing the '“ principles of Music with the motions of the Planets, " the faculties of the mind, and other such ridiculous “ imaginations. And Aristides Quintilianus, fup“ posed an older Author, is full of the same fooleries. “ Marius Victorinus has another scheme also, viz. " that the dancing forwards and backwards was in" vented by Theseus, in memory of the labyrinth " out of which he escaped. It all this is taking " much unnecessary pains to account why, when “ Dancers have gone as far as they can one 'way, “ they should return back again; or at least not dance s in the saine circle till they are giddy."
Such was the structure of the Greek Ode, in which the Strophé and the Antistrophé, i. e, the first and second stanzas, contained always the same number and the same kind of verses. The Epode was of a different length and measure; and if the Ode ran out into any length, it was always divided into Triplets of stanzas, the two first being constantly of the fame length and measure, and all the Epodes in like manner corresponding exactly with each other : from all which the regularity of this kind of compositions is fufficiently evident. There are indeed fome Odes, which consist of Strophés, and Antistrophés without any E pode;
and others which are made up of Strophés only, of different lengths and mealures. But the greatest num, ber of Pindar's Odes are of the first kind.
I have in the translation retained the names of Stroplié and Antistrophé, on purpose to imprint the more strongly on the Mind of the English reader, the exact regularity observed by Pindar in the structure of his Odcs; and have even followed his example in one, which in the original contists only of two Strophés.
Another charge against Pindar relates to the supposed wildneis of his imagination, his extravagant digreffions, and sudden transitions, which leads me to confider the second point, viz. the connection of his thoughts. Upon which I shall fin but little in this place, having endeavoured to point out the connexion, and account for inany of the digressions, in my Arguments and Notes * to the several Odes which I have translated. Here therefore I fall only observe in general, that whoever imagines the victories and praises of the Conquerors are the proper fubje&ts of the Odes inscribed to them, will find himself mistaken. These victories indeed gave occasion to these fongs of triumph, and are thercfore conitantly taken notice of by the Poet, as are also any particular and remarkable circumstances relating to them, or to tie lives and characters of the Conquerors themselves : but, as such circumstances could rarely furnish out matter fufficient for an Ode of any lengti, lo would it have been an indecency unknown to the
civil * See p. 122.
civil equality and freedom, as well as to the fimplicity of the age in which Pindar lived, to have filled a poem intended to be sung in public, and even at the altars of the gods, with the praises of one man only; who, besides, was often no otherwise considerable, but as the victory which gave occafion to the Ode had made him. For these reasons, the Poet, in order to give his poem its due extent, was obliged to have recourse to other circumstances, arising either from the family or country of the Conqueror, from the Games in which he had come off victorious, or from the particular deities who had any relation to the occasion, or in whose temples the Ode was intended to be sung. AU these, and many other particulars, which the reading the Odes of Pindar may suggest to an attentive obferver, gave hints to the Poet, and led him into thofe frequent digreffions, and quick transitions; which it is no wonder should appear to us at this distance of time and place both extravagant and unaccountable.
Upon the whole, I am persuaded that whoever will consider the Odes of Pindar with regard to the manners and customs of the age in which they were written, the occasions which gave birth to thens, and the places in which they were intended to be recited, will find little reason to censure Pindar for want of order and regularity in the plans of his compositions. On the contrary, perhaps, he will be inclined to admire him, for raising so many beauties from such trivial hints, and for kindling, as he sometimes does, fo great a flame from a single spark, and with so little fuel.