23. Odes of Pindar (c.476 BC)

Plot : Praise of victorious athletes in the Great Games (including the Olympian Games) due to the transformation and power granted by the Gods. My copy is again the Penguin edition (ISBN 0140442309X), this time translated by C. M. Bowra.

My thoughts :
Neither one thing nor the other, many of these odes tell little of the mythology they cite, or are turgid going, with the reader/hearer expected to be familiar with the details and family references of the legendary Gods and heroes, and virtually nothing of the actual sporting events and athletes they purpose to praise. Thankfully the editor included brief explanations in the footnotes to each ode, which were worth checking prior to reading each ode.
For me, this was a rather dull collection which means much more to the scholar than the casual modern reader. Nevertheless there was a sprinkling of nicely turned phrases which I did enjoy.
Again, like Aesop’s Fables, I found these easier to complete by occasional bursts of four or five rather than prolonged periods of reading. It is late in the year and I must admit I am feeling both lazy in brain to think much about these odes, and impatient to getting back to stories rather than poetry.

Favourite lines/passages:
“Truth does not always gain if she displays her face unflinching, and silence is often a man’s wisest counsel.” Nemean V
“He casts his anchor on the furthest edge of bliss” Isthmian VI
“For treacherous Time hangs over men and twists awry the path of life” Isthmian VIII

As far as Greek mythology is concerned, there are better reads already covered earlier in the blog, such as the Homeric Hymns.

Personal rating: 3/10

Next: The seven surviving plays of Aeschylus, in the order they are generally believed to have been written, starting with The Persians.

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