Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Pindar and Pelops

Dear Dr Gilleland,

Your recent post with the re-telling of Oedipus' tale led me to dig out a short poem I wrote in my student years when I was struggling to grasp the logic of Pindar's first Olympian. For what it is worth, and since you might enjoy it, here it is:
On First Reading Pindar's First Olympian

Tantalus, a nasty swine,
Invited all the gods to dine,
And then, that he might test their wits,
Served up his Pelops, chopped to bits.

The gods were wise and did not eat,
Save Ceres, fond of shoulder-meat;
Poor Pelops, short one of his pieces
Received an ivory prosthesis.

Now, Pindar did not like the story
Finding the banquet somewhat gory;
'Twere better if the youth were snatched
By Neptune, fond of pretty chaps.

Let no foul myth the gods demean!
We must re-write the sordid scene!
So Pelops, once by a god digested,
Is better now by a god molested.

Behold! He rises from the pot
With gleaming shoulder newly got.
But whence? The provenance is unclear.
I find the business rather queer.
Yours sincerely,

Rev. Gerard Deighan.

Underbelly (via email) directs my attention to the oratorio Oedipus Tex by P.D.Q. Bach (Peter Schickele). The aria "Howdy There" from the oratorio contains these lines:
I had some trouble coming into town.
There are things a man cannot take lying down.
I was riding through the gulch which ain't too big
When I met some fellas in a double rig.
They said "Step Aside" and I said "How about you?"
Ain't no one tells this cowboy what to do,
So me I wouldn't budge and they just sat
Until I shot 'em all and that was that.

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