, usually styled the prince of Lyric poets, was a contemporary of Æschylus, and born somewhat above forty years before the expedition of Xerxes, against the Greeks, and more than 500 B. C. His birth-place was Thebes, the capital of Bceotia; a country, the air of which was esteemed gross, and the stupidity of its inhabitants proverbial. We find the poet, in his sixth Olympic, confessing the disadvantage of his climate, yet resolving to exempt himself from the general censure. His parents are supposed to have been of low condition, so that he was more indebted for his attainments to his genius than to any advantages of education. We hrtve, however, few particulars of his life, amidst the numerous panegyrics to be found in ancient writers. He was highly courted and respected by most of the princes and states of Greece, and even allowed a share with the gods in their gifts and offerings, by the command of the oracle itself. For the priestess at Delphi ordered the people to give a part of thrir (irstfruits, which they brought thither, as a present to Pindar: and he had an iron stool set on purpose for him in that temple, on which he used to sit and sing verses in honour of Apollo. His countrymen, the Thebans, were irritated at his commending their enemies, the men of Athens; and fined him, for this affront to the state. Out of spleen too, they determined a poetical prize against him, in favour of a | woman, the ingenious and beautiful Corinna. In the mean time, the Athenians made him a present of double the value of his fine; and erected a noble statue in honour of him. His greatest patron was Hiero king of Syracuse, whom he has celebrated in his poems, and it is supposed he left Thebes to attend the court of that prince. He is thought to have passed his whole time in the ease and tranquillity commonly allowed to men of his profession, without intermeddling in affairs of state: for we find him, in his “Isthmics,” defending this way of life. His death is said to have been an answer to his wishes: for, having prayed the gods to send him the greatest happiness of which a mortal is capable, he expired immediately after in the public theatre, in his fifty-fifth year. His relations were highly respected after his decease, and such was the veneration for his memory, that the Lacedemonians, at the taking of Thebes, saved his house; a mark of respect which was afterwards repeated by Alexander the Great. The ruins of this house were to be seen in the time of Pausanias, who lived under the reign of Antoninus the philosopher.

Of all the works, which he is said to have composed, we have only his four books of hymns of triumph, on the conquerors in the four renowned games of Greece: the Olympian, the Pythian, the Nemaean, and the Isthmian; and such was his reputation for compositions of this kind, that no victory was thought complete, till it had the approbation of his muse. The spirit of Pindar’s poetry is so sublime, and the beauty so peculiar, that it is hardly possible to examine it by parts: and therefore the best judges have usually contented themselves with confirming his general title of “prince and father of lyric poetry,” without analyzing his particular excellences. “His Pegasus,” as Cowiey says, “flings writer and reader too, that sits not sure.” Horace called him inimitable, and, Quintiiian says, deservedly. Pindar and Sophocles,“says Longinus,” like a rapid fire, carry everything before them, though sometimes that fire is unexpectedly and unaccountably quenched.“The grandeur of his poetry, and his deep erudition, made the ancients give him the title of the Wisest, the Divine, the Great, and the most Sublime Plato calls him the Wisest and the Divine Æschylus the Great and Athenaeus, the most Sublime. Lord Bacon says, that” it is peculiar to Pindar, to strike the minds of men suddenly | with some wonderful turn of thought, as it were, with a divine scepter."

It is not improper to observe, that some prejudices have arisen among the moderns against Pindar, from certain writings known by the name of Pindaric odes: but very few under that title, not excepting even those written by the admired Cowley, whose wit and fire first brought them into reputation, have the least resemblance to the manner of the author whom they pretend to imitate, and from whom they derive their name; or, if any, it is such a resemblance only as is expressed by the Italian word caricatura, a monstrous and distorted likeness. This observation has been already made by Congreve, in his preface to two admirable odes, written professedly in imitation of Pindar: “The character of these late Pindarics,” says he, “is a bundle of rambling incoherent thoughts, expressed in a like parcel of irregular stanzas, which also consist of such another complication of disproportioned, uncertain, and perplexed verses and rhimes. On th|g contrary,” adds he, “there is nothing more regular than the Odes of Pindar, both as to the exact observation of the measures and numbers of his stanzas and verses, and the perpetual coherence of his thoughts. For though his digressions are frequent, and his transitions sudden, yet is there ever some secret connexion, which, though not always appearing to the eye, never fails to communicate itself to the understanding of the reader.” Upon the whole, a poetical imagination, a warm and enthusiastic genius, a bold and figurative expression, and a concise and sententious style, are the characteristical beauties of Pindar; very different from the far-fatched thoughts, the witty extravagances, and puerile conceits of his imitators.

The best editions of this poet are, that of Henry Stephens, 1560, 2 vols. 8vo; that of Erasmus Schmidts, in 1616, 4to; and that of Oxford, by West and Welsted, in 1697, folio. From which there was a neat and correct edition, with a Latin version, printed at London by Bowyer in 1755, small 8vo. Of late years, the edition of Heyne, 1773, 8vo, but particularly that of 1798, 3 vols. 8vo, have been in high and just estimation. Two volumes of a more complete edition, with notes on the text, and on the Scholia, were published by the celebrated Beck, in 8vo, at Leipsic, in 1792 and 1795. The remainder is much | wanted. We have an excellent translation of this poet bt the amiable Gilbert West, esq. 1


Vossius de Poet. Graec. Fabric. Bibl. Graec. Kennel’s Grecian Poets. Preface to the Odes of Pindar, by Gilbert West, esq.