His stylePindar was classed by the ancient rhetoricians as an exemplar of the αὐστηρὰἁρμονία, as belonging to the same class with Aischylos in tragedy, with Thukydides in history, Antiphon in oratory.1 This classification is based on grounds which do not all justify themselves at once to the modern reader, although they have their warrant in the formal system of rhetoric, with its close analysis of figures of speech and figures of thought, its minute study of the artistic effect of the sequence of sounds. But “downright,” “unstudied,” are hardly adjectives that we should apply to Pindar without much modification.2 The famous characteristic of Horace --
-- emphasizes the opulence of Pindar, the wealth and movement of his poetry. But in many respects Pindar does not in the least resemble a mountain-torrent, and if we accept the views of those who systematize his course of thought into the minutest channels, we should sooner think of comparing the Pindaric poems with the σεμνοὶὀχετοί of the Hipparis (O. 5.12), than with the headlong course of the Aufidus, which Horace evidently has in mind. Pindar's peculiar accumulation of paratactic sentences, clause following clause with reinforcing weight, may indeed be compared with the ever-increasing volume of the mountain-stream as it is fed from hillside and gorge, and there are many passages in which the current runs strong and fast, and needs the large utterance of the profundumos, but the other figure of the Dirkaian swan rising above the din of the torrent of poetry, his wings filled with the strong inspiration of the Muse,3 yet serene and majestic in his flight, is not to be forgotten. Quintilian (10, 1, 61) echoes Horace, as usual: “NovemlyricorumlongePindarusprincepsspiritusmagnificentia, sententiis, figuris, beatissimarerumverborumquecopia.” Let us now turn from the characteristics of Pindar, as given by others, to the poet himself. We have not to do with the naïve. Pindar is profoundly self-conscious, and his witness concerning himself is true. He distinctly claims for himself elevation, opulence, force, cunning workmanship, vigorous execution. In what seems to moderns almost unlovely self-assertion, he vindicates his rank as a poet just as he would vindicate his rank as an aristocrat. He is an eagle, his rivals are ravens and daws (O. 2.96; N. 3.82). Bellerophon shooting his arrows from the lone bosom of the chill ether (O. 13.87) is a prefigurement of his poetic exaltation, his power, his directness, and so he never wearies of calling his songs arrows or darts (O. 1.112; 2, 91. 99; 9, 5. 12; 13, 93; P. 1.12. 44; 6, 37), which sometimes fall in a hurtling shower; but sometimes a single arrow hits the mark, sometimes a strong bolt is kept in reserve by the Muse, for Pindar, as an aristocrat, is a man of reserves. Of the richness of his workmanship none is better aware than he. The work of the poet is a Daedalian work, and the sinuous folds are wrought with rare skill (O. 1.105), the art of art is selection and adornment, the production of a rich and compassed surface (P. 9.83). The splendor of the Goddesses of Triumphal Song irradiates him (P. 9.97), and he is a leader in the skill of poesy, which to him is by eminence wisdom (σοφία),4 wisdom in the art of the theme, and in the art of the treatment. Now how far does Pindar's account of himself correspond to the actual impression? What is the immediate effect of the detailed work of his poems, that detailed work by which he is at first more comprehensible? The detail of Pindar's odes produces, from the very outset of the study, an irresistible effect of opulence and elevation. Opulence is wealth that makes itself felt, that suggests, almost insultingly, a contrast, and that contrast is indigence. It is one half of an aristocrat, elevation being the other, so that in art as in thought, as in politics, as in religion, Pindar is true to his birth and to his order. This opulence, this abundance of resource, shows itself in strength and in splendor, for πλοῦτος is μεγάνωρ, πλοῦτος is εὐρυσθενής. The word splendor and all its synonyms seem to be made for Pindar. He drains dry the Greek vocabulary of words for light and bright, shine and shimmer, glitter and glister, ray and radiance, flame and flare and flash, gleam and glow, burn and blaze. The first Olympian begins with wealth and strength, with flaming fire of gold, and the shining star of the sun. The fame of Hieron is resplendent, and the shoulder of Pelops gleams. No light like the light of the eye, thought the Greek, and the ancestors of Theron were the eye of Sicily, and Adrastos longs for the missing eye of his army. So the midmonth moon in her golden chariot flashed full the eye of evening into the face of Herakles. Wealth is not enough. It must be picked out, set off. It is not the uniform stare of a metallic surface, it must be adorned with the tracery that heightens the value of the background. Pindar delights in elaboration. His epinikion itself, as we have seen, combines the two moral elements of the games πόνοςδαπάνατε. His lyre has a various range of notes, his quiver is full of arrows, and at times such is the shower of notes, such the rain of arrows, such the sparkle and flash and flame of the lights, such the sweet din and rumble and roar of the music of earth and the music of heaven, that the poet himself, overcome by the resources of his own art, confesses his defeat, and by one strong impulse of his light feet, swims out of the deluge of glory with which he has flooded the world of song.5 It requires strength to carry this opulence of splendor, but Pindar's opulence is the opulence of strength as well. He does not carve his bow with curious figures so deeply cut that at the drawing of the string the weapon snaps. His is not a sleepy but a vivid opulence, not a lazy but a swift opulence. Everything lives in his poems, everything is personified. Look at the magical way in which he lights up this great lamp of the architecture of his Odeon in the first Pythian. “O Golden Lyre, joint heirloom of Apollo and the Muses violet-tressed, thou for whom the step, the dancer's step, listeneth.” “Obeyeth” seems too faint. We see the foot poised, tremulously listening for the notes of the phorminx, as if it had a hearing of its own. A few verses further down, “snowy Aitna, nursing the livelong year the biting snow,” not “her snow,” as it has been rendered. It is not hers. It has come down to her from Heaven. It is the child of Zeus, and only rests on her cold bosom, the pillar of the sky. Yet again the couch on which the fettered giant lies goads him and galls him, as if it too had a spite against him, as well as the weight of continent and island that pinches his hairy breast. And so it is everywhere; and while this vividness in some instances is faint to us, because our language uses the same personifications familiarly, we must remember that to the Greek they were new, or, at all events, had not entirely lost their saliency by frequent attrition. Swiftness is a manifestation of strength, and Pindar is swift and a lover of swiftness, to judge by his imagery. Swiftness we readily recognize in plan, in narrative. In detail work it goes by another name, concentration — the gathering of energy to a point, a summing up of vitality in a word. It is the certainty with which Pindar comes down on his object that gives so much animation, so much strength, so much swiftness to his style. A word, an epithet, and the picture is there, drawn with a stroke. In the second Olympian he is telling of the blessedness of the souls that have overcome. When he comes to the damned, he calls them simply “those.” “The others bear anguish too great for eye to look at.” Nonragioniamdilor. In the same wonderful second Olympian he says, “Liveth among the Olympians she that was slain by the rumble of the thunder, longhaired Semele.” Semele died not “amid,” but “by” the roar. “Killed with report.” The roar was enough to destroy that gentle life, and the untranslatable τανυέθειρα gives at once the crown of her womanhood, the crown of her beauty, the crown of her suffering. Semele lives again as she appeared to Zeus, when he visited her with immortal terrors. The aristocrat must be rich, must be strong. A man may be both and yet be vulgar, for there is a vulgar beauty, a vulgar genius. The second characteristic of Pindar is elevation. This word is preferred to sublimity, because sublimity is absolute, and is incompatible with the handling of any but the highest themes. Elevation is relative. You may treat a thing loftily without treating it sublimely. Pindar is not always in the altitudes, though he loves “the lone bosom of the cold ether,” and the fruits that grow on the topmost branches of the tree of virtue, nearest the sun, and the lofty paths along which the victors of Olympia walk. He is not lacking in sportiveness, but whatever he treats, he treats with the reserve of a gentleman, a term which is no anachronism when applied to him. Hence his exquisite purity. “Secret are wise Suasion's keys unto Love's sanctities” he sings himself, and amid the palpitating beauties of Greek mythology he never forgets the lesson that he puts in the mouth of the Centaur (P. 9.42). The opulence, strength, swiftness, elevation, of Pindar's art reveal themselves in varying proportions in the various odes. Noteworthy for its opulence is the seventh Olympian, for Diagoras of Rhodes, the famous boxer, which the Rhodians copied in letters of gold, and dedicated in the temple of Athena at Lindos. What stately magnificence in the famous forefront of the sixth Olympian, in which he sets up the golden pillars of his porch of song. What vividness in his immortal description of the power of music in the first Pythian. Gray's imitation is well known: “ Perching on the sceptred hand
Od. 4, 2:
Of Jove, thy magic lulls the feather'd king
With ruffled plumes and flagging wing:
Quench'd in dark clouds of slumber lie,
The terror of his beak, and lightnings of his eye.
” Matthew Arnold's is not unfamiliar: “ And the eagle at the beck
Of the appeasing, gracious harmony
Droops all his sheeny, brown, deep-feather'd neck,
Nestling nearer to Jove's feet,
While o'er his sovereign eye
The curtains of the blue films slowly meet.
” But to begin to cite is never to stop. Of the various elements that go to make up this total impression of opulence and elevation, some will be considered hereafter. Something will be said of the effect of the rhythms, something of the opalescent variety of the dialect, of the high relief of the syntax, of the cunning workmanship that manifests itself in the order of the words. Let us now turn to a closer consideration of that which first attracts attention in an author, the vocabulary. Much might be said of the vocabulary, with its noble compounds,6 whether taken from the epic thesaurus, and so consecrated by the mint-mark of a religious past, or created with fresh vitality by the poet himself. In the paucity of the remains of the lyric poets, we cannot always be certain that such and such a word is Pindar's own, but that he was an audacious builder of new words7 is manifest from the fragments of his dithyrambs. Some of the most magnificent are put in the openings of the odes, as O. 2.1: “ἀναξιφόρμιγγεςὕμνοι” O. 3.4: “νεοσίγαλοντρόπον.” O. 8.3: “ἀργικεραύνου.” O. 13.1: “τρισολυμπιονίκαν” . P. 1.1: “ἰοπλοκάμων.” . P. 2, 1: “μεγαλοπόλιες . . . βαθυπολέμου” . P. 8.2: “μεγιστόπολι.” P. 10, 3: “ἀριστομάχου.” P. 11, 3: “ἀριστογόνῳ” . The epithets applied to the gods match the splendor of their position. Zeus is “αἰολοβρόντας” (O. 9. 45) , “ὀρσίκτυπος” (O. 10 , 89) , “ὀρσινεφής” (N. 5.31) , “ἐγχεικέραυνος” (O. 13.77) , “φοινικοστερόπας” (O. 9.6) . Poseidon is invoked as “δέσποταποντόμεδον” (O. 6.103) , is called “βαρύκτυποςΕὐτρίαινα” (O. 1.73) . Helios is “φαυσίμβροτοςὙπεριονίδας” (O. 7.39) , and Amphitrite is “χρυσαλάκατος” (O. 6.104) , and Athena “ἐγχειβρόμοςκόρα” (O. 7.43) . And so the whole world of things, animate and inanimate, is endued with life, or quickened to a higher vitality, by Pindar's compounds. The cry is “ἁδύγλωσσος” (O. 13.100) , the lyre “ἁδυεπής” (O. 10 , 103) . Lions acquire something of a human ostentation by “βαρύκομποι” (P. 5.57) . The majestic chambers of Zeus are “μεγαλοκευθεῖς” (P. 2.33) , and hide awful shapes of doom to punish the intruder. “ὀπιθόμβροτοναὔχημα” (P. 1.92) resounds as if the words of themselves echoed down the corridors of Time. There are no ῥήματαγομφοπαγῆ, the rivets are hidden. We have festal splendor here also, not fateful sublimity. The effect of living splendor, produced by Pindar's compounds, is not confined to the compounds. Even the most familiar words are roused to new life by the revival of the pristine meaning. It is a canon of Pindaric interpretation that the sharp, local sense of the preposition is everywhere to be preferred, and every substantive may be made to carry its full measure of concreteness. This is distinctly not survival, but revival. We are not to suppose that κρατήρ (O. 6.91) was felt by the Greek of Pindar's time as a male agent, or ἀκόνα (O. 6.82) as a shrill-voiced woman.8 Whatever personification lay in the word was dead to the Greek of that time. Pindar revived the original meaning, and the γλυκὺςκρατήρ is a living creature. In fact it is hardly possible to go wrong in pressing Pindar's vocabulary until the blood comes. It is true that in many of the long compounds the sensuous delight in the sound is the main thing, and yet even there we find φιλησίμολπε (O. 14.14) and ἐρασίμολπε (O. 14.16) used side by side, in such a way that we cannot refuse to consider how the poet meant them, just as in the same poem (v. 5) he combines the transient pleasure of τὰτερπνά with the abiding joy of τὰγλυκέα.9 In the fine feeling of language few poets can vie with Pindar; and though he is no pedantic synonym-monger, like a true artist he delights in the play of his own work. There is danger of over-subtilty in the study of antique style; but Pindar is a jeweller, his material gold and ivory, and his chryselephantine work challenges the scrutiny of the microscope, invites the study that wearies not day or night in exploring the recesses in which the artist has held his art sequestered — invites the study and rewards it. Pindar himself has made φωνάεντασυνετοῖσιν (O. 2.93) a common saying; Pindar himself speaks of his art as ἀκοὰσοφοῖς (P. 9.84); his call across the centuries is to the lovers of art as art. There is an aristocratic disdain in his nature that yields only to kindred spirits or to faithful service. The formal leisurely comparison Pindar seldom employs, though he uses it with special effect in the stately openings of two of his odes, O. 6 and O. 7. In O. 12 the comparison takes the place of the myth, and others are found here and there. But instead of “as” he prefers the implied comparison, which is conveyed by parallel structure such as we find in the beginning of O. 1, of O. 10 (11). In the metaphor, with its bold identification of object and image, Pindar abounds as few poets abound. Every realm of nature, every sphere of human life, is laid under contribution. The sea is his with its tossing waves (O. 12.6) and its shifting currents (O. 2.37). The ruler is a helmsman, whether a prince (P. 1.86; 4, 274), an order (P. 10.72), Tyche (O. 12.3), or the mind of Zeus himself (P. 5.122). To be liberal is to let the sail belly to the wind (P. 1.91). His song is a flood that sweeps away the pebble counters of a long arrear of debt (O. 10 , 11). Rebellious insolence is scuttled as a ship is scuttled (P. 8.11); a favoring breeze prospers the course of song (P. 4.3). An eagle, as he calls himself, he loves to dwell in the air (O. 2.97; N. 3.80), to wing his song (P. 8.34). An archer, like his master Apollo, he delights to stretch his bow, to speed his dart (O. 1.97; 2, 91. 99; 9, 5. 12; 13, 93; P. 1.12. 44; 6, 37). Of light and flame, as has been said already, he is never weary. Wealth is a bright and shining star (O. 2.58); fame shines forth (O. 1.23), fame looks from afar (O. 1.94); joy is a light that lights up life (O. 10 , 25); his songs in their passionate dance blaze over the dear city of the Opuntians (O. 9.22); the feet of the victor are not beautiful merely, they are radiant (O. 13.36). The games themselves furnish welcome figures — the chariot-race, reserved for grand occasions (O. 6.22; 9, 87; P. 10.65), the hurling of the dart, the wrestling-match (O. 8.25; P. 2.61). Nor does he disdain the homely range of fable and proverb and every-day life.10 The bee, it is true (P. 4.60), was a consecrated emblem before his time; the cow, for a woman (P. 4.142), is as old as Samson. The cock (O. 12.14) was to the Greek the Persian bird, and more poetic than he is to us, even as Chanticleer;11 but the fox figures in Pindar, not only as known in higher speech (O. 11 , 20; I. 3 , 65), but by the fabulistic nickname κερδώ (P. 2.48). He is not shy of trade and commerce, ledger (O. 11 , 2) and contract (O. 12.7). Dante has, in his Inferno, the figure of an old tailor threading his needle; Pindar is not afraid of a metaphor from adjusting clothes (P. 3.83). Aischylos speaks of the net of Ate; the figure is grand, but Aischylos sees poetry in the cork as well (Choëph. 506), and so does Pindar (P. 2.80). A glance at the list of the figures used even in the Olympians and Pythians12 is sufficient to show that life is not sacrificed to elevation. A word as to mixed metaphor in Pindar. No charge more common than this against him, as against Shakespeare; and a rhetorician of the ordinary stamp will doubtless consider the offence as a crime of the first magnitude. The number of metaphors properly called mixed is not so large in Pindar as is supposed;13 nor, in any case, are we to count as mixed metaphor a rapid shifting of metaphors. This is to be expected in the swift movement of Pindar's genius. The disjointedness of Emerson's style has been ingeniously defended on the ground that each sentence is a chapter. And so Pindar's metaphors are slides that come out in such quick succession that the figures seem to blend because the untrained eye cannot follow the rapid movement of the artist. A notorious passage occurs in the first Pythian (v. 86 foll.), in which Pindar touches in quick succession various strings. “Let not fair chances slip. Guide thy host with a just helm. Forge thy tongue on an unlying anvil. If it so chance that ought of import light escapes thee, it becomes of magnitude in that it comes from thee. Of many things thou art steward. Many witnesses are there to deeds of both kinds,” and so on, with a shift in every sentence. In such passages the absence of conjunctions is sufficient to show that no connection was aimed at, and it is the fault of the reader if he chooses to complain of an incongruous blending of things that are left apart. The next point to be considered is the plan of the epinikion. Original genius or not, Pindar was under the domination of the tradition of his department, and the fragments of Simonides are enough to show that there was a general method of handling the theme common to all the poets. The epinikion is, as we have seen, an occasional poem. The problem is to raise it out of this position, as a mere temporary adornment of the victory, to a creation of abiding worth. The general method must have been reached before Pindar's time; it is his success in execution that has to be considered here. The epinikion has for its basis the fact and the individual; but it rises through the real to the ideal, through the individual to the universal. The light that shines about the victor's head brightens into the light of eternity; the leaf of olive or of laurel becomes a wreath of amaranth. Sheer realism had no place in high Greek art. The statues of the victors in Olympia were not portrait statues. When the victor had overcome three times, then, it is true, he might set up a portrait statue, but three victories of themselves would idealize. The transfiguration which we expect of heaven the Greek sought in art. So the victor and the victory are not described at length. True, the poet sometimes labored under the frightful disadvantage of a commission that dictated an enumeration of all the prizes gained by a certain family. How gracefully, how lightly, he acquitted himself of the task may be seen in O. 7, in O. 13. But apart from such special restrictions — under which everything spiritual and artistic must groan, being burdened, in this travailing world — the poet was free to conceive his subject ideally. The special occasion secured interest and sympathy in advance, gave him the broad earth from which to rise; and not the proudest eagle that ever soared, if once on the earth, can rise without running, though it be but for a little distance, along its black surface: and the epinikion started on the earth. Now change the figure after the Pindaric fashion to the temple — Pindar himself has suggested the comparison (O. 6.1) — some fair Greek temple, repeating the proportions of the clear-cut mountains of Greece just as the Gothic cathedral repeats the forests of Germany; some temple standing on the large level of an acropolis, standing against the sky. The façade of the work is to be illuminated, but not so as to throw a garish light on every detail. Only the salient points are to be brought out, only the characteristic outline, so that as it comes out against the dark sky you seem to have one constellation more. Nay, the new constellation is strangely blended with the old groups of stars, and we cannot tell which is mythic past, which illuminated present. The sources of the myth have already been indicated. The selection is often suggested by external relations. Now it is the victor's family that furnishes the story, now the victor's home, now the scene of the contest and the presiding god or hero. Sometimes the selection is due to internal motives, and the myth is a model, a parallel, or a prophecy — perhaps all three. This, then, is the function of the myth in the epinikion, the idealization of the present, the transfiguration of the real. This was an artistic necessity for the Greek, and it was in some sort an historical necessity. It reconciled epic and lyric. It gave a new value to epic themes by using them as parallels for the present, while the drama took the last step and made the past the present. Pindar does not jumble his materials in admired disorder, nor does he sort them after the approved scientific fashion, with subdivision after subdivision, to the exhaustion of all the letters of the alphabet, Roman, italic, Greek, and Hebrew. Analysis does not show the way in which the poem was woven. The fruitful study of Pindar lies through synthesis, not through analysis, and in the introductions to the several odes an effort has been made to show how the meaning of the whole reveals itself to him who simply follows the poet's guidance. What is dignified by the name of an analysis is often nothing more than a table of contents, a catalogue, the very form of which disguises the lack of connection. Logical disposition will not avail much. Pindar is poetical, not logical. But symmetry there must be, for it is impossible for any one that studies Greek literary art not to count on symmetry. The tendency to balance, to parallelism, is universal. In Greek the tendency is a law. It is needless to enlarge on this. The law of correspondence — measure answering to measure — is fundamental, and has been applied to every sphere of Greek art — pictorial, plastic, literary — not without overstraining, yet not without great profit. In music as in architecture it is unquestioned. Even frivolous Offenbach has said: “Music is an algebra.” Poetry, like music, is made up of equations. In Pindar the symmetry of form is evident. The odes are composed either of corresponding strophes or of corresponding triads (strophe, antistrophe, and epode). But this is not enough. There must be within each strophe, each epode, another balance, another correspondence, another symmetry. Westphal first distinctly postulated this correspondence, and opened the way for the establishment of it; but the bold and brilliant originator wearied of his own work, renounced his own principles. J. H. Heinrich Schmidt began his metrical and rhythmical studies as a worker on the lines laid down by Westphal, although he differs from his forerunner at every turn; and Moriz Schmidt,14 well known as a Pindaric scholar, far from being satisfied with the results of his predecessors, has recently set up his schemes in opposition to Westphal's and J. H. H. Schmidt's. A sample of the divergencies may be given. In the epode of O. 6 Rossbach-Westphal saw three mesodic periods with an epodikon:
|I. 3.2.3||II. 442.44||III. 18.104.22.168||4. epod.|
|I. 323||II. 424||III. 44.43 ἐπ.||IV. 33.33||V. 44|
|A 6446=20.||B 4444=16.||A' 66 44=20|
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