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there is not, that I know of, any treatise now extant; those written upon this subject by some of the Ancients being all loft, and not being supplied by any learned Modern, at least not so fully as might have been done, and as so considerable an article of the Grecian Antiquities seemed to demand.

As I flatter myself that even the learned Reader will in this Disfertation meet with many points which have hitherto escaped his notice, and much light reflected from thence upon the Odes of Pindar in particular, as well as upon many passages in other Greek Writers, I shall rather defire him to excuse those errors and defects which he may happen to discover in it, than apologize for the length of it.

Having now removed the chief prejudices and objections which have been too long and too generally entertained against the Writings of Pindar, I need say but little of his real character, as the principal parts of it may be collected from the very faults imputed to him ; which are indeed no other than the excesses of great and acknowledged beauties, such as a poetical imagination, a warm and enthusiastic genius, a bold and figurative expression, and a concise and fentcntious file. These are the characteristical beauties of Pindar; and to these his greatest blemishes, generally fpeaking, are so near allied, that they have sometimes been mistaken for each other. I cannot however help observing, that he is so entirely free from any thing like the far-fetched thoughts, the witty extravagances,


and puerile concetti of Mr. Cowley and the reft of his Imitators, that I cannot recollect so much as even a fingle antitheks in all his Odes.

Longinus indeed confesses, that Pindar's flame is sometimes extinguished, and that he now and then finks unexpectedly and unaccountably; but he prefers him, with all his faults, to a Poet who keeps on in one constant tenour of mediocrity, and who, though he feldom falls very low, yet never rises to those astonishing heights, which fometimes make the head even of a great Poet giddy, and occasion those flips which they at the same time excuse.

But, notwithstanding all that has or can be said in favour of Pindar, he inust still appear, as I before observed, under great disadvantages, especially to the English Reader. Much of this fire, which formerly warmed and dazzled all Greece, must necessarily be lost even in the best Translation. Besides, to say nothing of many Beauties peculiar to the Greek, which cannot be expressed in English, and perhaps not in any other language, there are in these Odes so many references to secret history, so many allusions to persons, things, and places, now altogether unknown, and which, were they known, would very little interest or affect the Reader, and withal such a mixture of Mythology and Antiquity, that I almost despair of their being relished by any, but those who have, if not a great deal of classical learning, yet somewhat at least of an antique and claffical taste,


Every Reader, however, may ftill find in Pindar something to make amends for the loss of those beauties, which have been set at too great a dittance, and in some places worn off and obliterated by time; namely, a great deal of good sense, many wise reflections, and many moral sentences, together with a due regard to religion ; and from hence he may be able to form to himself fome idea of Pindar as a Man, though he should be obliged to take his character as a Poet from others.

But that he may not for this rely altogether upon my opinion, I Mall here produce the testimonies of two great Poets, whose excellent writings are sufficient evidences both of their taste and judgment. The first was long and universally admired, and is still as much regretted, by the present age: the latter, who wrote about seventeen hundred years ago, was the delight and ornament of the politest and most learned age of Rome. And though even to him, Pindar, who lived some centuries before him, must have appeared under some of the disadvantages above-mentioned, yet he had the opportunity of seeing all his works which were extant in his time, and of which he hath given a sort of catalogue, together with their several characters : an advantage which the former wanted, who must therefore be understood to speak only of those Odes which are now remaining. And indeed he alludes to those only, in the following passage of his “ Temple of Fame." Pope's Works, small Edit. Vol. III. p. 17. ver. 210.

« Four


:36 Four Swans * sustain a car of filver bright, ** With heads advanc'd, and pinions stretciid for flight: *** Here, like some furious prophet, Pindar rode, " And seem'd to labour with th' inspiring God. “ Across the harp a careless hand he flings, “ And boldly finks into the sounding strings. “ The figur’d Games of Greece the column grace, “ Neptune and Jove survey the rapid race: “ The youths hang o'er their chariots as they run; « The fiery steels seem starting from the stone: & The champions in distorted postures threat ; “ And all appear’d irregularly great."

The other Passage is from Horace, lib. IV. Ode ii. viz.

“ Pindarum quifquis ftudet æmulari, &c." which, for the benefit of the English Reader, I have thus translated :


He, who aspires to reach the towering height
*Of matchless Pindar's heaven-ascending strain,
Shall sink, unequal to the arduous flight,
Like him, who falling nain'd tha’ Icarian main;


* Four Swans fufiain, &c.] Pindar, being seated in a Chariot, alludes to the Horse-races lie celebrated in the Grecian Games. The swans are emblems of poetry; their soaring posture intimates the sublimity and activity of his genius. Neptune presided over the Isthmian, and Jupiter over the Olympian Games. This note is of the same Author.

Presumptuouis youth! to tempt forbidden skies! And liope above the clouds on waxen plumes to rise!

Pindar, like some fierce torrent swoln with lowers,
Or sudden cataracts of melting snow,
Which from the Alps its headlong deluge pours,
And foams and thunders o'er the vales below,

With desultory fury borne along,
Rolls his impetuous, vaft, unfathomable song.

The Delphick laurel ever sure to gain;
Whether with lawless Dithyrambick rage
Wild and tumultuous flows the founding strain;
Or in more order'd verse sublimely sage

To Gods and Sons of Gods his lyre he strings,
And of fierce Centaurs llain, and dire Chimæra fings.

Or whether Pisa's Victors be his theme,
The valiant champion and the rapid steed;
Who from the banks of Alpheus, sacred stream,
Triumphant bear Olympia's olive meed;

And from their Bard receive the tuneful boon,
Richer than sculptur'd brass, or imitating stone.

Or whether with the widow'd mourner's tear,
He mingles soft his Elegiac song;
With Dorian strains to deck th' untimely bier
Of some disastrous bridegroom fair and young;

Whose virtues, in his deifying lays,
Through the black gloom of death with star-like

radiance blaze.


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