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F all the great Writers of Antiquity, no one was
ever more honoured and acimired while living, as few have obtained a larger and fairer portion of fame after death, than Pindar. Pausanias tells us, that the character of Poet was really and truly consecrated in his person, by the God of Poets himself *, who was pleased by an express oracle to order the inhabitants of Delphi to set apart for Pindar one half of the first-fruit offerings brought by the religious to his frine; and to allow him a place in his temple ; where in an iron chair he was used to sit and sing his hymns, in honour of that God. This chair was remaining in the time of † Pausanias (several hundred years after) to whom it was shewn as a relick not unworthy the fanctity and magnificence of that holy place. Pan I likewise, another Musical Divinity, is reported to have skipped and juinped for joy, while the Nymphs were dancing in honour of the birth of this Prince of Lyrick Poetry ; and to have been afterwards so much delighted with his compositions, as to have sung his Odes in the hearing even of the Poet himself f. Unhappily for us, and indeed for Pindar, those parts of his works, which procured him these extraordinary testimonies from the Gods (or from Mortals rather, wiio by the invention
* Paus. in Bæot.
+ Paus. in Phoc.
of these fables meant only to express the high opinion they entertained of this great Poet) are all loft: I mean his Hymns to the several Deities of the Heathen World. And even of those writings, to which his less extravagant, but more serious and more lasting glory is owing, only the least, and, according to some people, the worst part is now remaining. These are his Odes inscribed to the Conquerors in the Four sacred Games of Greece. By these Odes therefore are we now left to judge of the merit of Pindar, as they are the only living evidences of his character.
Among the moderns * those men of learning of the truest taste and judgment, who have read and confidered the writings of this Author in their original language, have all agreed to confirin the
great character given of him by the Ancients. And to such who are still able to examine Pındar himself, I shall leave him to stand or fall by his own merit; only bespeaking their candour in my own behalf, if they should think it worth their while to peruse the following translations of some of his Odes : which I here offer chiefly to the English reader, to whom alone I desire to address a few confiderations, in order to prepare him to form a right judgment, and indeed to have any relish of the Compositions of this great Lyrick Poet, who notwithitand
* See Abbé Fraguier's Character of Pindar, printed in the 3d Vol. of Memoires de l'Academie Royale, &c. an. Kennet's Life of Pindar, in the Lives of the Greek Peers,
ing must needs appear before him under great disadvantages.
To begin with removing fome prejudices against this Author, that have arisen from certain writings known by the name of Pindarick Odes; I must insist that very few, which I remember to have read under that title, not excepting even those written by the admired Mr. Cowley, whose vit and fire first brought them into reputation, have the least resemblance to the manner of the Author, whom they pretend to imitate, and from whom they derive their Name; or, if any, it is such a resemblance only as is expressed by the Italian word caricatura, a monstrous and distorted likeness. This observation has been already made by Mr. Congreve in his Preface * to two admirable Odes, written profefsedly in imitation of Pindar; and I may add, so much in his true manner and spirit, that he ought by all means to be excepted out of the number of thofe who have brought this author into discredit by pretending to resemble him.
Neither has Mr. Cowley, though he drew from the life, given a much truer picture of Pindar in the Translations he made of two of his Oues. I say not this to detract from Mr. Cowley, whose genius, perhaps, was not inferior to that of Pindar himself, or either of those other two great Poets, Horace and Virgil, whose names have been bestowed upon him, but chiefly to apologize for my having ventured to translate the same Odes; and to prepare the Reader for I 2
the * Preserved in the present col!estion.
the wide difference he will find between many parts of bis Translations and mine.
Mr. Cowley and his Imitators (for all the Pindarick Writers since his time have only mimicked him, while they fancied they were imitating Pindar) have fallen themselves, and by their examples have led the world, into two mistakes with regard to the character of Pindar: both which are pointed out by Mr. Congreve in the Preface above-mentioned, and in the following words :
6. The character of these late. Pindaricks is a bundle m.of rambling incoherent thoughts, expressed in a like s parcel of irregular stanzas, which also confift of « fuch another complication of disproportioned, un“ certain, and perplexed verses and rhymes. And «. I appeal to any Reader, if this is not the condition ", in which these titular Odes appeared.
« On the contrary (adds he) there is nothing more “ regular than the Odes of Pindar, both as to the « exact observation of the measures and numbers of « his stanzas and verses, and the perpetual coherence • of his thoughts: for though his digreffions are fre
quent, and his tranítions sudden, yet is there ever • some fecret connexion, which, though not always
appearing to the eye, never fails to communicise it“ self to the undersanding of the reader.”
Upon these two points, namely, the regularity of measure in Pindar's Odes, and the connexion of his thoughts, I fall beg leave to make a few observations.
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 solemn sacrifices made to the Gods upon those occasions. They contilt 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 “ 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 shall insert the Translation of it in English.
You must know that the Ancients (in their Odes) 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 lefter fianza was named the Epode, which they sung standing still. The Strophé, as they say, denoted the motion of the l.igher Sphere, the Antistrophé that of the Planets, the Epode tbe 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 linging, « and then danced back again while the Antistrophé
was fung: Which Mews why those two Parts con“ fisted of the same length and measure; then, when