Midas of Akragas, a famous αὐλητής, master of the Athenian Lamprokles, who in his turn taught Sophokles and Damon, was victorious in αὔλησις twice, Pyth. 24 and 25, and likewise, according to the Scholia, at the Panathenaic games. We do not know positively for which of the two victories at Pytho this poem was composed; but if Pindar had been celebrating the second victory, he would, according to his usual manner, have mentioned the first. If this is the first victory, the poem belongs to the same year with P. 6 (494 B.C.), in which Pindar celebrated the success of another Agrigentine, his friend Xenokrates, brother of Theron, and we have in P. 12 one of Pindar's earliest odes. The contest in αὐλῳδία (song with flute accompaniment) was abolished at the second Pythiad, and the game at which Midas won was the ψιλὴ αὔλησις. The antique αὐλός, like the old English flute, was a kind of clarionet, with a metallic mouth-piece, and one or two tongues or reeds. Midas had the ill-luck to break the mouth-piece of his flute, but continued his playing, to the great delight of his audience, and succeeded in winning the prize. The poem is constructed on the usual Pindaric lines. It announces the victory, tells of the origin of flute music, the invention of the tune called κεφαλᾶν πολλᾶν νόμος (πολυκέφαλος νόμος), and returns to the victor with some not unfamiliar reflections on moil and toil linked with prosperity. According to Mezger, ἐφεῦρε, v. 7, and εὗρεν, v. 22, which mark beginning and end of the myth, show the tendency of the poem. The value of the victory consists in its having been gained in an art invented by Athena. Mezger notices a resemblance to O. 3 in the handling of the myth. In both poems the person of the victor is brought into connection with the centre of the mythical narrative — the olive there, the πολυκέφαλος νόμος here. The rhythms are dactylo-epitrite.
Strophe 1φιλάγλαε: Not without allusion to the function of Ἀγλαΐα, O. 14, 13 καλλίστα βροτεᾶν πολίων: Cf. P. 9.75 (of Kyrene): καλλίσταν πόλιν.
Φερσεφόνας ἕδος: The whole island was presented by Zeus to Persephone εἰς τὰ ἀνακαλυπτήρια (the presents given to the bride when she first took off her veil). ὄχθαις ... κολώναν: The commanding position of this ὑψηλὰ πόλις, as P. calls it elsewhere, is emphasized by travellers, old and new. ὄχθαις: See P. 1.64.
ναίεις: Heroine and city are blended, after Pindaric fashion. See P. 9.75. Ἀκράγαντος: The river. ϝάνα = ἄνασσα.
σὺν εὐμενείᾳ: The favor that he is to find in his reception, not the favor that he has already found.
στεφάνωμα: The song as well as the wreath. See P. 9.4. Μίδᾳ: For the dat., see P. 4.23. It is to Midas's honor that the offering is to be received.
τέχνᾳ, τάν, κτἑ.: Acc. to the common tradition, Athena invented the flute, Olympos this special melody (ὁ πολυκέφαλος νόμος). P. modifies the tradition so as to give both to Athena. We cannot limit τέχνᾳ to Midas's art in this one melody, in spite of the coincidence of ἐφεῦρε and διαπλέξαισα.
Strophe 2παρθενίοις = παρθένων. The sisters of Medusa, Euryale and Stheno ὑπό τ᾽ ἀπλάτοις: The virgins are bowed in grief, which position is better brought out by ὑπό, with the dat. On ὑπό, with the second word, see O. 9.94. ὀφίων: Acc. to another version, only Medusa had the snake locks.
λειβόμενον: After the analogy of χεῖν ( I. 7 , 58: “θρῆνον ... ἔχεαν” ), and δάκρυα λείβειν. The οὔλιος θρῆνος brought with it a shower of tears (ἀστακτὶ λείβων δάκρυον, Soph.), hence the blending. σύν, Almost equivalent to “amid.”
ὁπότε: “What time.” Cf. P. 3.91. τρίτον ... μέρος: Medusa was one of three sisters. Cf. P. 4.65: “ὄγδοον ... μέρος Ἀρκεσίλας.” ἄνυσσεν: “Despatched.”
εἰναλίᾳ τε Σερίφῳ τοῖσί τε: So Hermann. εἰναλίᾳ Σερίφῳ λαοῖσι, the reading of the best MSS., makes ι in Σ. short. τοῖσι = αὐτοῖς = Σεριφίοις. If λαοῖσι is retained, it must be read as a dissyllable. Seriphos was turned into a solid rock, and the inhabitants, who had maltreated Danaë, mother of Perseus, were petrified by the apparition of the Gorgon's head
Φόρκοιο: The father of the three Graiai, as well as of the three Gorgons. μαύρωσεν: “Blinded.” The Graiai had one eye in common, of which Perseus robbed them in order to find his way to the abode of the Gorgons.
Πολυδέκτᾳ: Polydektes of Seriphos, enamoured of Danaë, made her his slave, and, pretending to desire wedlock with Hippodameia, invited the princes of the realm to a banquet, in order to receive contributions towards the ἕδνα. Perseus promised, as his contribution to this ἔρανος, the head of Medusa.
εὐπαρᾴου ... Μεδοίσας: Medusa is mortal, the others immortal. See the story in
After she yielded to Poseidon, her hair was turned into serpents by Athena, of whose temple she was priestess, and with whom she vied in beauty. The transmutation of Medusa in plastic art from a monster to a beauty is well known.
Strophe 3υἱὸς Δανάας: On the position, see O. 10 (11), 38. ἀπὸ χρυσοῦ ... αὐτορύτου: The shower of gold in which Zeus descended to Danaë. I. 6 (7), 5: “χρυσῷ μεσονύκτιον νίφοντα ... τὸν φέρτατον θεόν” .
φίλον ἄνδρα: Perseus was special liegeman of Athena.
τεῦχε: The tentativeness of the inventor may be noted in the tense, as in the ΕΠΟΙΕΙ of the Greek artist, though in earlier times ΕΠΟΙΗΣΕ is more common (Urlichs). πάμφωνον: Cf. O. 7.12: “παμφώνοισί τ᾽ ἐν ἔντεσιν αὐλῶν” , and P. 3.17: “παμφώνων ἰαχὰν ὑμεναίων” .
τὸν ... γόον: On the long suspense, see O. 12.5. Εὐρυάλας: The eminence is due to the metrical form of the name. καρπαλιμᾶν γενύων: Quivering jaws.
χριμφθέντα: Lit. “brought nigh,” “that assailed her ears.” σὺν ἔντεσι: “With the help of instruments” instead of the simple instrumental ἔντ. Cf. P. 4.39.
ἀνδράσι θνατοῖς ἔχειν: This would seem to imply that she does not mean to use the flute herself. Still the story that Athena threw away the flute after she invented it, because it disfigured her face, is doubtless an Athenian invention aimed at the Boeotians. ἔχειν: Epexegetic infinitive.
κεφαλᾶν πολλᾶν νόμον: Fanciful explanation of the “winding bout,” or “many-headed” tune.
λαοσσόων: The αὐλός called to games as well as battles.
Strophe 4θάμα = ἅμα (Bergk). See O. 7.12. δονάκων: For which Boeotia was famous.
παρὰ καλλιχόρῳ ... πόλει: The dat. is more poetical than the acc. See O. 1.20. Χαρίτων: The city of the Charites is Orchomenos. See
Καφισίδος: The nymph Kopaïs. πιστοὶ χορευτᾶν μάρτυρες: The αὐλός is the timekeeper, and so the witness of the dances.
ἄνευ καμάτου: Allusion to the mishap of Midas, though the story may have been imported.
νιν = κάματον.
ὅ = ὅς. τινα: Sc. σέ. Some read τίν = σοί, dependent on δώσει. ἀελπτίᾳ βαλών: “Smiting with unexpectedness.” “With unexpected stroke.” ἀελπτία is a βέλος. Less likely is ἀελπτίᾳ as semi-personification as Il. 7, 187: “κυνέῃ βάλε” , where the helmet catches the lot.
ἔμπαλιν γνώμας: Compare O. 10 (11), 95: “νεότατος τὸ πάλιν” . τὸ μὲν δώσει, κτἑ.: While it will give part, will part postpone. A note of unsatisfied longing on the part of Midas.