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Fall the great Writers of Antiquity, no one was
ever more honoured and admired while living, as few have obtained a larger and fairer portion of fame after death, than Pindar. Paufanias tells us, that the character of Poet was really and truly confecrated in his person, by the God of Poets himself *, who was pleased by an exprefs oracle to order the inhabitants of Delphi to fet apart for Pindar one half of the firft-fruit offerings brought by the religious to his fhrine; and to allow him a place in his temple; where in an iron chair he was used to fit and fing his hymns, in honour of that God. This chair was remaining in the time of † Paufanias (feveral hundred years after) to whom it was fhewn as a relick not unworthy the fanctity and magnificence of that holy place. Pan likewife, another Mufical Divinity, is reported to have skipped and jumped for joy, while the Nymphs were dancing in honour of the birth of this Prince of Lyrick Poetry; and to have been afterwards fo much delighted with his compofitions, as to have fung his Odes in the hearing even of the Poet himself §. Unhappily for us, and indeed for Pindar, thofe parts of his works, which procured him thefe extraordinary teftimonies from the Gods (or from Mortals rather, who by the invention
*Pauf. in Boot.
+ Pauf. in Phoc.
of thefe fables meant only to exprefs the high opinion they entertained of this great Poet) are all loft: I mean his Hymns to the feveral Deities of the Heathen World. And even of thofe writings, to which his lefs extravagant, but more ferious and more lafting glory is owing, only the leaft, and, according to fome people, the worst part is now remaining. Thefe are his Odes infcribed to the Conquerors in the Four facred Games of Grecce. By thefe 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 confirm the great character given of him by the Ancients. And to fuch who are still able to examine Pindar himself, I fhall leave him to stand or fall by his own merit; only bespeaking their candour in my own behalf, if they fhould think it worth their while to perufe the following translations of fome of his Odes: which I here offer chiefly to the English reader, to whom alone I defire to address a few confiderations, in order to prepare him to form a right judgment, and indeed to have any relifh of the Compofitions of this great Lyrick Poet, who notwithstand
* See Abbé Fraguier's Character of Pindar, printed in the 3d Vol. of Memoires de l' Academie Royale, &c. and Kennet's Life of Pindar, in the Lives of the Greek Poets.
ing muft needs appear before him under great difadvantages.
To begin with removing fome prejudices against this Author, that have arisen from certain writings known by the name of Pindarick Odes; I must infist that very few, which I remember to have read under that title, not excepting even thofe written by the admired Mr. Cowley, whofe wit and fire firft brought them into reputation, have the leaft refemblance to the manner of the Author, whom they pretend to imitate, and from whom they derive their Name; or, if any, it is fuch a refemblance only as is expreffed by the Italian word caricatura, a monstrous and distorted likeness. This obfervation 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 those who have brought this author into difcredit by pretending to resemble him.
Neither has Mr. Cowley, though he drew from the life, given a much truer picture of Pindar in the Tranflations he made of two of his Odes. I fay not this to detract from Mr. Cowley, whofe genius, perhaps, was not inferior to that of Pindar himself, or either of thofe other two great Poets, Horace and Virgil, whofe names have been beftowed upon him, but chiefly to apologize for my having ventured to tranflate the fame Odes; and to prepare the Reader for
* Preferved in the prefent collection.
the wide difference he will find between many parts of bis Tranflations and mine.
Mr. Cowley and his Imitators (for all the Pindarick Writers fince 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:
"The character of thefe late Pindaricks is a bundle "of rambling incoherent thoughts, expreffed in a like "parcel of irregular ftanzas, which also consist of
fuch another complication of difproportioned, un"certain, and perplexed verfes and rhymes. And "I appeal to any Reader, if this is not the condition .in which thefe titular Odes appeared.
"On the contrary (adds he) there is nothing more « regular than the Odes of Pindar, both as to the "exact obfervation of the meafures and numbers of
his ftanzas and verses, and the perpetual coherence "of his thoughts: for though his digreffions are fre"quent, and his tranfitions fudden, yet is there ever "fome fecret connexion, which, though not always
appearing to the eye, never fails to communicate it"felf to the understanding of the reader.”
Upon thefe two points, namely, the regularity of measure in Pindar's Odes, and the connexion of his thoughts, I fhall beg leave to make a few obfer
Thefe Odes were all compofed to be fung by a Chorus, either at the entertainments given by the Conquerors (to whom they were infcribed) or their friends, on account of their victories, or at the folemn facrifices made to the Gods upon thofe occafions. They confist generally of three ftanzas, of which the following account was communicated to me by a learned and ingenious Friend.
"Befides what is faid of the Greek Ode in the "Scholiaft upon Pindar, I find (fays he) the follow"ing paffage in the Scholia on Hephæftion; it is the "very last paragraph of thofe Scholia."
The paffage cited by him is in Greek, inftead of which I fhall infert the Tranflation of it in English.
You must know that the Ancients (in their Odes) framed two larger ftanzas, and one lefs; the first of the larger ftanzas they called Strophé, finging it on their feftivals at the altars of the Gods, and dancing at the fame time. The fecond they called Antiftrophé, in which they inverted the dance. The leffer fianza was named the Epode, which they fung ftanding fill. The Strophe, as they fay, denoted the motion of the higher Sphere, the Antiftrophé that of the Planets, the Epode the fixed station and repofe of the Earth.
"From this paffage it appears evident that these "Odes were accompanied with dancing; and that "they danced one way while the Strophé was finging, " and then danced back again while the Antiftrophé was fung: Which fhews why those two Parts con"fifted of the fame length and measure; then, when