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Development through his career

In the preceding glimpses of Pindar's thought and art, his poems have been treated as a whole, and no regard has been had to the gradual development of his powers. If his career exhibited marked stages, if we had trustworthy external data, such a presentation might well be considered defective. Sophokles and Euripides would not fare thus, nor Plato, although it must be confessed that Plato is a warning against the rash application of the principle of development. Let us see how the case stands with Pindar.

The life of Pindar gives scarcely any clue to his development. After his encounter with Korinna there is almost a dead silence from without. Those who have ears to hear — and every modern critic is a Fine-ear — may detect the sound of growth from within. Besides, we have the advantage of a certain number of fixed points. We know the dates of a fair proportion of Pindar's forty-four odes, and we may construct the curve of his rise, and, if it must be said, of his decline. The department, too, seems to favor such a study, for Pindar was a lyric poet; and a lyric poet, it is thought, would be the first to show the traces of personal experience. But antique lyric is not modern lyric. Even Roman lyric is not Greek lyric. The Horace of the Odes is not the same as the Horace of the Epodes; but it does not follow irresistibly that we can as easily distinguish between the Pindar of the tenth Pythian and the Pindar of the fourth Olympian. It may be going too far to say that the law of the department, the lyric τεθμός, was so much stronger than the individual that the personal development does not count. The personal development does count, and it is a legitimate and fascinating study, but the danger of importing into the result a priori conclusions is manifest. Once fix in the mind the characteristic stages, and the inevitable tendency is to force the phenomena, no matter how stubborn they may be, into the places which they are supposed to fit. Of youth we expect exuberance of language, unassimilated wealth of thought, rashness of imagery, a technic that betrays, both by its mechanical adherence to rule and by its violation of principle, the recent influence of the school, and the rebellion against it. Of matured power we expect a balance of forces; the imagination is steadier, the thought deeper, the interpenetration of form and matter is more complete, the plan is organic, the poem grows symmetrically up to its full height; there are fewer surprises, and the technic has become a second nature without the dulness of routine. The man is at his best. The closing stage shows perfect mastery of form still, but the effects are produced with less expenditure of power, there is not the same joy of surplus vitality, the word “dexterity” comes in too often when we applaud, the plan is a scheme. Now while some such course may be laid down in general for the track of lyric genius, the very essence of genius, which is the unforeseen, disappoints calculation at every turn. There are some minds in which there is no trace of crudeness at any age. There are revivals of youth in poetry as in life, revivals that scandalize critics of art as well as critics of morals. Of all students of Pindar, Leopold Schmidt1 has bestowed most attention on this subject, but in spite of his thoughtful study and his sympathetic discernment, the results reached are not satisfactory. The pe

First Period.
riod of immaturity is too long, and the evidence of immaturity too slight. The great poets of the world do not wait until the Suabian age of discretion — which is forty — before they reach their prime. Of the seven dated poems assigned to this period three are on the border of Pindar's perfect art, so that we are practically left to make up our characteristics of this stadium from P. 10, 6, 12, and 7. We are told that Pindar's first commissions came from Thebes. Nothing would seem to be more likely. But the odes give no evidence of it. The Thebans may have employed him at their local games, but the victors of the earlier odes are from Thessaly, Akragas, Athens, Epizephyrian Lokris, and Aigina. We are told that Pindar must have known Aigina from his youth up, and no one questions his intimate knowledge of the island, his deep interest in its fortunes. One fourth of all the odes celebrate Aiginetans, but the first Aiginetan ode is the last of this period of immaturity. True, not without significance is the close connection with Delphi and the consequent predominance of Pythian odes at this period, and it was doubtless a proud moment in the poet's life when he received his first Olympian commission, and if the longer ode on Agesidamos, O. 10 (11), is the fulfilment of that commission, it may be pardonable to see a certain jubilation in its tone; but it is extravagant to attempt the reconciliation between the joyous tone and the long delay by the supposition that the poet was too much overcome by his emotion to do the theme immediate justice. The distinction between the earlier poems and the poems of the period of maturity, as marked by the prominence given to the grace of a special god in the latter, seems to be shadowy, and to have less in its favor than the criticism that there is a lack of unity in the composition of the earlier poems. Unfortunately the relation of myth to theme is not yet put on an impregnable basis, and what Schmidt says of the earlier poems has been said by others of the ripest. It is easy to say that there is no interpenetration of myth and thought, that the actual present is not yet merged in the mythic past, that we have only striking situations, no development, and hence no psychological interest. The trouble is to vindicate perfection for the others. The handling of the metres in the different periods is another matter that leaves ample margin for varying judgment. Schmidt maintains that the metre shifts from logaoedic to dactylo-epitrite without discernible reason, that the logaoedic is more freely handled as the poet develops, and that the dactylo-epitrite is not thoroughly mastered until the close of the period. Here, again, the basis of induction is too narrow, the ἄλογος αἴσθησις is too potent an element.

The second period, according to Schmidt, extends from Pindar's fortieth to his sixty-fifth year — a stirring time. To

Second period.
the opening of it belong the battle of Salamis — a contest of Panhellenic significance far greater than Marathon — and the battle of Plataia, which touched Pindar nearly. Thebes was severely chastised for her adherence to the Persians, and the dominant aristocratic party sorely humiliated. It is supposed — it is a mere supposition — that Pindar, though of the nobility, was not with the nobility; that his vision had widened. The aristocracy was no longer the only form of government worthy of the name, and so he was fitted by nature and insight to act as a mediator between extremes. And yet it would be hard to prove from Pindar's poems that he ever had a reasonable sympathy with democracy anywhere. There was no call for such sympathy. The victors in the games were all of his own order.

In this second period Pindar's reputation extended more and more; the princes of the earth sought the honor of being glorified by him. When he was fifty he yielded to Hieron's solicitations and paid a visit to Syracuse. When he was in his fifty-sixth year he is supposed to have been at the court of Arkesilas IV. of Kyrene. Of his travels, however, it is confessed we know nothing. We may infer from his extensive connections and his exact knowledge of localities and of family history that he had journeyed far and wide; but we are often unable to tell whether it is the singer or the song that is voyaging, and the minute local knowledge may be due in part to the persons from whom Pindar held his commission. In any case, the transmission of the names and fortunes of mythic characters presents problems enough in every department of Greek poetry. A personal acquaintance with Athens is not unlikely, though by no means certain. The high praise that he bestowed upon the city is referred by Schmidt to the time between the second Persian war and his visit to Syracuse. The relations between the Dorians and the Athenians became more tense afterwards, and Schmidt himself acknowledges that as Pindar grew older he went back to the faith of his fathers, the aristocratic creed in which he was nursed.

Pindar's rise in national estimation gave him a higher selfesteem. He likes to show that his song makes him the peer of kings. But it must not be forgotten that his boldest utterances are courtliness itself, and that the Greek of that period would not have understood the modern attitude of the subject to the throne. It is absurd to see any freedom in his calling Hieron “friend.” His own achievements and the achievements of the Persian war are supposed to have led him to higher views of human power. Success in the games is not due to fortune or to fate, but rather to the victor's own prowess, the victor's own zeal, the victor's family record, especially in its religious aspects, to the favor of a special deity, and chiefly to the favor of Apollo. Here, again, it may be said that the material for the first period is too scant for the establishment of such a contrast in the second.

The advance in the art of composition in the second period is a point that cannot be discussed without illustrations from the several odes. To reach Schmidt's conclusions it would be necessary to accept Schmidt's analyses, which often err by supersubtilty. The attempt has been made in this edition to follow the growth of the odes in the poet's mind. A general plan there was, doubtless, in each poem; but it was not a rigid scheme, and shaped itself into graceful variations as the poet wrought at his work. The myth grew out of the theme, its heart or head, as the herb in Isabella's Pot of Basil. We must have suggestion, play, sweep, or we have no poetry. Now, according to Schmidt, it is only in this period that we have any such organic unity; it is only in this period that he sees the happy co-operation of imagination and plastic force. Yet even here he notices a difference. After fifty the significance of each poem may be summed up in a formula; before, the fundamental notion is so incarnate that we cannot dissect it out. But no high poetry is exhausted by its recurrent burdens, its catch-words, its key-verses, just as no high poetry is in any sense translatable.

The advance in the art of the narrative is another point where we have to encounter the danger of a priori characterization, and the difficulty of a narrow range of observation. Critics have noted that the construction of Thackeray's earliest stories is as perfect as that of his latest. The difference lies in the detail work. The Pindaric manner of story-telling, with its sharp outlines of light, its tips of coruscations, remains the same throughout.

But to follow in detail all the changes that Schmidt has noticed in the second period is not possible within the limits of this essay. The third period — the period of the senile

Third period.
Pindar — is marked by a decided decline. “The eagle flight of the imagination is broken.” The understanding is as subtile as ever, the humor is as fresh, the feeling is as warm, but the fair enchantment of the harmony between the world of idea and the world of fact is gone. The old poet falls into the sins of his youth. His composition is unequal; and yet so much praise is lavished on the five odes — and one of them of doubtful authenticity — that Pindar falls, if he falls, upon a bed of roses.

Without refusing, then, the meed of praise to the intense study that has enabled Schmidt to draw in finest details the image of the poet's life and the poet's art — without denying the value of the attempt to form such a picture of Pindar's development, we may be pardoned for declining to accept as final results reached by processes so shadowy with materials so limited.

1 LEOPOLD SCHMIDT, Pindar's Leben und Dichtung, Bonn, 1862. Period I. (Ol. 69, 3 to Ol. 74, 2) embraces in the following order: P. 10, 6, 12, 7; O. 10, 11; N. 5. Period II. (Ol. 74, 3 to Ol. 80), I. 5, 4, 7; P. 9, 11, 2; O. 14, 3, 2; P. 3; N. 9; P. 1; O. 1, 12; I. 2; O. 6; P. 4, 5; O. 7, 13, 8. Period III. (Ol. 81 and Ol. 82), O. 9; I. 6; O. 4 and 5; P. 8. The dates of the rest are not fixed, according to Schmidt, and must be excluded from a rigid calculation. They are all Nemean and Isthmian.

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