AskDefine | Define Pindaric

Dictionary Definition

Pindaric n : an ode form used by Pindar; has triple groups of triple units [syn: Pindaric ode]

Extensive Definition

Pindar () (or Pindarus, Greek: ) (probably born 522 BC in Cynoscephalae, a village in Boeotia; died 443 BC in Argos), was a Greek lyric poet.
Of the canonical nine lyric poets of ancient Greece, Pindar is the one whose work is best preserved, and some critics since antiquity have regarded him as the greatest.


Pindar was born at Cynoscephalae, a village in Boeotia. He was the son of Daiphantus and Cleodice. The traditions of his family have left their impression on his poetry, and are not without importance for a correct estimate of his relation to his contemporaries. The clan of the Aegidae–tracing their line from the hero Aegeus–belonged to the Cadmean element of Thebes, i.e., to the elder nobility whose supposed date went back to the days of the founder Cadmus.
Pindar was married to Megacleia. They had two daughters, Eumetis and Protomache, and a son, Daiphantus. Pindar is said to have died at Argos, at the age of seventy-nine, in 442 BC.
Employing himself by writing choral works, poetry in praise of notable personages, events, and princes; his house in Thebes was spared by Alexander the Great in recognition of the complimentary works he composed about and for his ancestor, king Alexander I of Macedon.


Pindar composed choral songs of several types. According to a Late Antique biographer, these works were grouped into seventeen books by scholars at the Library of Alexandria. They were, by genre:
  • 1 book of humnoi - "hymns"
  • 1 book of paianes - "paeans"
  • 2 books of dithuramboi - "dithyrhambs"
  • 2 book of prosodia - "preludes"
  • 3 books of parthenia - "songs for maidens"
  • 2 book of huporchemata - "songs to support dancing"
  • 1 book of enkomia - "songs of praise"
  • 1 book of threnoi - "laments"
  • 4 books of epinikia - "victory odes"
Of this vast and varied corpus, only the epinician odes—poems written to commemorate athletic victories—survive in complete form; the rest are known to us only by quotations in other ancient authors or papyrus scraps unearthed in Egypt.
An Athenian comic playwright, Eupolis, is said to have remarked that the poems of Pindar "are already reduced to silence by the disinclination of the multitude for elegant learning" and it may be suggested that in modern times, too, Pindar is more respected than read.
The victory odes were composed for aristocratic victors in the four most prominent athletic festivals in early Classical Greece: the Olympian, Pythian, Isthmian, and Nemean Games. Rich and allusive in style, they are packed with dense parallels among the athletic victor, his illustrious ancestors, and the myths of deities and heroes underlying the athletic festival. But "Pindar's power does not lie in the pedigrees of ... athletes, ... or the misbehavior of minor deities. It lies in a splendour of phrase and imagery that suggests the gold and purple of a sunset sky." Two of Pindar's most famous victory odes are Olympian 1 and Pythian 1.
In keeping with the Theban pedagogic tradition, a good part of his poetry touches on pederastic themes. Among these are his Olympian Odes I and IX, as well as his encomium to the eromenos Theoxenus (fragment 123 Snell-Maehler), a skolion thought to have been dedicated to Pindar's own beloved, but now believed to have been commissioned by Theoxenus' lover. (Hubbard, Thomas K. Pindar, Theoxenus, and the Homoerotic Eye)
Pindar is to be conceived, then, as standing within the circle of those families for whom the heroic myths were domestic records. He had a personal link with the cultural memories which everywhere, were most cherished by Dorians, no less than with those which appealed to those of "Cadmean" or of Achaean stock. And the wide ramifications of the Aegidae throughout Hellas rendered it peculiarly fitting that a member of that illustrious clan should celebrate the glories of many cities in verse which was truly, as panhellenic as the Olympian Games.
Pindar is said to have received lessons in aulos-playing from one Scopelinus at Thebes, and afterward, to have studied at Athens under the musicians Apollodorus (or Agathocles) and Lasus of Hermione. Several passages in Pindar's extant odes glance at the long technical development of Greek lyric poetry before his time and, at the various elements of art which the lyricist was required to temper into a harmonious whole. The facts that stand out from these meagre traditions are that Pindar was precocious, meticulous, and laborious. Preparatory labour of a somewhat severe and complex kind was, indeed, indispensable for the Greek lyric poet of that age.

Chronology of his Victory Odes

Modern editors (e.g. Snell and Maehler in their Teubner edition), have assigned dates, securely or tentatively, to Pindar's victory odes, based on ancient sources and other grounds (doubt is indicated by a question mark immediately following the number of an ode in the list below). The result is a fairly clear chronological outline of Pindar's career as an epinician poet:
  • 498 BC: Pythian Odes 10
  • 490 BC: Pythian Odes 6, 12
  • 488 BC: Olympian Odes 14 (?)
  • 485 BC: Nemean Odes 2 (?), 7 (?)
  • 483 BC: Nemean Odes 5 (?)
  • 486 BC: Pythian Odes 7
  • 480 BC: Isthmian Odes 6
  • 478 BC: Isthmian Odes 5 (?); Isthmian Odes 8
  • 476 BC: Olympian Odes 1, 2, 3, 11; Nemean Odes 1 (?)
  • 475 BC: Pythian Odes 2 (?); Nemean Odes 3 (?)
  • 474 BC: Olympian Odes 10 (?); Pythian Odes 3 (?), 9, 11; Nemean Odes 9 (?)
  • 474/473 BC: Isthmian Odes 3/4 (?)
  • 473 BC: Nemean Odes 4 (?)
  • 470 BC: Pythian Odes 1; Isthmian Odes 2 (?)
  • 468 BC: Olympian Odes 6
  • 466 BC: Olympian Odes 9, 12
  • 465 BC: Nemean Odes 6 (?)
  • 464 BC: Olympian Odes 7, 13
  • 462 BC: Pythian Odes 4
  • 462/461 BC: Pythian Odes 5
  • 460 BC: Olympian Odes 8
  • 459 BC: Nemean Odes 8 (?)
  • 458 BC: Isthmian Odes 1 (?)
  • 460 BC or 456 BCE: Olympian Odes 4 (?), 5 (?)
  • 454 BC: Isthmian Odes 7 (?)
  • 446 BC: Pythian Odes 8; Nemean Odes 11 (?)
  • 444 BC: Nemean Odes 10 (?)


Further reading

  • Studia Pindarica


External links

Pindaric in Breton: Pindaros
Pindaric in Bulgarian: Пиндар
Pindaric in Catalan: Píndar
Pindaric in Czech: Pindaros
Pindaric in Danish: Pindar
Pindaric in German: Pindar
Pindaric in Modern Greek (1453-): Πίνδαρος
Pindaric in Spanish: Píndaro
Pindaric in Esperanto: Pindaro
Pindaric in French: Pindare
Pindaric in Galician: Píndaro
Pindaric in Croatian: Pindar
Pindaric in Icelandic: Pindaros
Pindaric in Italian: Pindaro
Pindaric in Hebrew: פינדארוס
Pindaric in Latin: Pindarus
Pindaric in Latvian: Pindars
Pindaric in Lithuanian: Pindaras
Pindaric in Hungarian: Pindarosz
Pindaric in Dutch: Pindarus
Pindaric in Japanese: ピンダロス
Pindaric in Norwegian: Pindar
Pindaric in Occitan (post 1500): Pindar
Pindaric in Polish: Pindar
Pindaric in Portuguese: Píndaro
Pindaric in Romanian: Pindar
Pindaric in Russian: Пиндар
Pindaric in Serbian: Pindar
Pindaric in Finnish: Pindaros
Pindaric in Swedish: Pindaros
Pindaric in Turkish: Pindar
Pindaric in Ukrainian: Піндар
Pindaric in Chinese: 品达
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1