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F all the great Writers of Antiquity, no one was
ever more honoured and admired while living, as few have obtained a larger and fairer portion of fame after death, than Pindar. Pausanias tells us, that the character of Poet was really and truly consecrated in his person, by the God of Poets himself *, who was pleased by an express oracle to order the inhabitants of Delphi to set apart for Pindar cne half of the first-fruit offerings brought by the religious to his fhrine; and to allow him a place in his temple ; where in an iron chair he was used to fit and fing his hymns, in honour of that God. This chair was remaining in the time of t Paufanias (several hundred years after) to whom it was Thewn as a relick not unworthy the fanctity and magnificence of that holy place. Pan I likewise, another Musical Divinity, is reported to have skipped and jumped for joy, while the Nymphs were dancing in honour of the birth of this Prince of Lyrick Poetry ; and to have been afterwards so much delighted with hís coinpositions, as to have fung his Odles in the hearing even of the Poet himself ş. Unhappily for us, and indeed for Pindar, those parts of his works, whici: procured him these extraordinary testimonies from the Gods (or from Mortals raiher, who by the invention
* Paus. in Boot.
Philosi ratus in Icon.
Paul. in Phoc. $ Plut. in Numa.
of these fables meant only to express the high opinion they entertained of this great Poet) are all loft: I mean his Hymus to the several Deities of the Heathen World. And even of those writings, to which his less extravagant, but more serious and more lasting glory is owing, only the least, and, according to some people, the worst part is now remaining. These are his Odes inscribed to the Conquerors in the Four sacred Games of Greece. By these Odes therefore are we now left to judge of the merit of. Pindar, as they are the only living evidences of his character.
Among the moderns * those men of learning of the truest taste and judgment, who have read and confidered the writings of this Author in their original language, have all agreed to confirın the great character given of him by the Ancients. And to such who are still able to examine Pindar himself, I Thall leave him to stand or fall by his own merit; only beípeaking their candour in my own behalf, if they mould think it worth their while to peruse the following translations of some of his Odes: which I here offer chiefly to the English reader, to whoin alone I desire to address a few considerations, in order to prepare him to form a right judgment, and indeed to have any relish of the Compositions of this great Lyrick Poet, who notwithstand
See Abbé Fraguier's Character of Pindar, printed in the 3d Vol. of Memoires de l'Academie Royale, &c. and Kennet's Life of Pindar, in the Lives of the Greek Pocis.
ing must needs appear before him under great disadvantages.
To begin with removing fome prejudices against this Author, that have arisen from certain writings known by the name of Pindarick Odes; I must insist that very few, which I reinember to have read under that title, not excepting even those written by the admired Mr. Cowley, whose wit and fire first brought them into repatation, 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 obfervation has been already made by Mr. Congreve in his Preface * to two admirable Odes, written profersedly in imitation of Pindar ; and I may add, so much in his true manner and spirit, that he ought by all means to be excepted out of the number of those who have brought this author into difcredit by pretending to resemble him.
* Neither has Mr. Cowley, though he drew from the life, given a much truer picture of Pindar in the Tranflations he made of two of his Odes. I say not this to detra&t from Mr. Cowley, whole genius, per-' Iraps, was not inferior to that of Pindar himself; or either of those other two great Poets, Horace and Virgil, whose names have been bestowed upon him, but chiefly to apologize for my having ventured to translate the fame Odes; and to prepare the Reader for
the * Preserved in the partent collection,
the wide difference he will find between many parts of bis Tranllations and mine.
Mr. Cowley and his. Iinitators (for all the Pindarick Writers since his time have only mimicked him, while they fancied they were imitating Pindar) have fallen themselves, and by their examples have led the world, into two mistakes with regard to the character of Pindar: both which are pointed out by Mr. Congreve in the Preface above-mentioned, and in the following words :
6. The chara&ter of these late Pindaricks is a bundle .46 of rambling incoherent thoughts, expressed in a like
parcel of irregular stanzas, which also consist of “ such another complication of disproportioned, un“ certain, and perplexed verses and rhymes. And " I appeal to any Reader, if this is not the condition « in which these titular Odes appeared.
« On the contrary (adds he) there is nothing more or regular than the Odes of Pindar, both as to the «6 exact observation of the measures and numbers of • his stanzas and verses, and the perpetual coherence “ of his thoughts: for though his digressions are fre
quent, and his transitions sudden, yet is there ever “ some fecret connexion, which, though not always " appearing to the eye, never fails to communicase it. " self to the understanding of the reader."
Upon these two points, namely, the regularity of measure in Pindar's Odes, and the connexion of his thoughts, I Thall beg leave to make a few observations.