Monday, July 18, 2016


Difficulty of Pindar

Hugh Lloyd-Jones (1922-2009), "Modern Interpretation of Pindar: The Second Pythian and Seventh Nemean Odes," Journal of Hellenic Studies 93 (1973) 109-137 (at 114):
People fail to appreciate Pindar not only because they find him not to be progressive, but because they find him difficult. He is indeed difficult, but the nature of the difficulty is not always appreciated. His style and language present grave problems; but they are hardly as difficult as those of Sophocles, who is confidently read by many people who will not dare tackle Pindar. That would be the case even if Pindar's text were as corrupt as that of Sophocles, whereas in fact it is a good deal better preserved. The source of many of the greatest difficulties is not the language itself, nor the corruption of the text, but the conventions of the genre and the sometimes abrupt transitions from one topic to another which these entail. Many readers who can see the beauty of Pindar's style and language find it hard to read a Pindaric poem as a whole. We need to be taught how to read Pindar not only in the sense of how to construe him, but in that of how to view each poem and each section of each poem in the light of the tradition to which it belongs; and in this few books written in English are of much help to us.

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