Wells, James Bradley. 2010. Pindar's Verbal Art: An Enthnographic Study of Epinician Style. Hellenic Studies Series 40. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_WellsJ.Pindars_Verbal_Art.2010.
1. Text and Sign
σύνδικον Μοισᾶν κτέανον· τᾶς ἀκούει μὲν βάσις ἀγλαΐας ἀρχά,
πείθονται δ᾽ ἀοιδοὶ σάμασιν
ἁγησιχόρων ὁπόταν προοιμίων ἀμβολὰς τεύχῃς ἐλελιζομένα.
rightful possession: a footstep [basis], the beginning of celebration, hears it,
but singers [aoidoi] heed the signs [sâmata]
whenever with your vibrating strings you strike up the prooimia that guide the dancing.
This passage has provoked much discussion about the performance of epinician song, but there is a remarkably stable consensus in the interpretation of what the lines describe and virtually no variation in the method of interpretation applied by critics. Of the two branches of literal exegesis, linguistic and historical (Todorov 1981:xxix), commentators’ interpretations of Pythian 1.1–4 privilege historical description, an interpretive methodology that, when applied to the study of epinician performance, involves producing a reconstructed scenario for performance context; such a scenario, in turn, becomes the critical touchstone for interpreting a particular passage or song. On the basis of this passage, ancient commentators reconstruct choreographic and musical arrangements, blocking out a performance scenario whose sequence of events includes a musical ante-prelude (prooimia), followed by a prelude of dance (basis ‘footstep’), succeeded by the song (thus, aoidoi ‘singers’). Modern commentaries largely take their exegetical cue from the scholia.  I want to bring into focus my approach to epinician performance, generally, and to Pindar’s oral poetics, specifically, by thinking about the sâmata referred to at Pythian 1.3 in light of these methodological considerations. The scholiasts’ literal exegesis of the word leads to the reasonable view that these signs are some sort of cue, but this view gives way to interpreting sâmata in terms of the reconstructed performance scenario: the ‘signs’ are the rhythm guiding music and dance or some other form of previously agreed upon guiding element, including, according to some, written instructions in the form of a performance script.  In this chapter I will apply descriptive and interpretive methods of linguistic anthropology to discover the features of epinician language and performance that these sâmata signal. From this methodological vantage point, we can interpret Pindar’s sâmata as sociolinguistic and traditional conventions that cue the singers’ performance of epinician song and, crucially, the audience’s participation in that performance.
Epinician Text: Status and Voicing
- Identify Pindar’s most common forms of metalanguage;
- Determine whether each instance of metalanguage refers to representing or represented communication;
- Identify indices for the status of the text;
- Identify indices for voicing in the text;
- Identify methodological controls applied in steps 3 and 4.
Step 1: Metalanguage
Step 2: Representing and Represented Communication
κλεινὰν Ἀκράγαντα γεραίρων εὔχομαι.
Θήρωνος Ὀλυμπιονίκαν ὕμνον ὀρθώσαις ἀκαμαντοπόδων
ἵππων ἄωτον. Μοῖσα δ᾽οὕτω ποι παρέστα μοι νεοσίγαλον εὑρόντι τρόπον
5 Δωρίῳ φωνὰν ἐναρμόξαι πεδίλῳ
ἀγλαόκωμον· ἐπεὶ χαίταισι μὲν ζευχθέντες ἔπι στέφανοι
πράσσοντί με τοῦτο θεόδματον χρέος,
φόρμιγγά τε ποικιλόγαρυν καὶ βοὰν αὐλῶν ἐπέων τε θέσιν
Αἰνησιδάμου παιδὶ συμμεῖξαι πρεπόντως, ἅ τε Πίσα με γεγωνεῖν· τᾶς ἄπο
10 θεόμοροι νίσοντ᾽ ἐπ᾽ ἀνθρώπους ἀοιδαί.
I pray, as I honor famous Akragas,
now that I have erected an Olympian victor’s humnos for Theron—
for horses with indefatigable feet, the best thing. The Muse so stood beside me when I found a bright new way
to harmonize the celebratory sound with the Dorian sandal,
since wreaths bound to hair
give me this divinely established duty: to fittingly blend together the multisonic lyre and the voice of pipes and a foundation of lyrics [epea]
for the son of Ainesidamos. And Pisa urges me to speak out;
from there the god-allotted songs reach humans.
In this passage there are two instances of metalanguage: humnos (3) and epea (8). I characterize this passage as representing communication because first-person singular forms (lines 2, 4, 7, and 9) signal that the words in the passage are the addresser’s; the passage is an instance of representing communication that frames instances of represented communication in Olympian 3. 
εὐαχέα βασιλεῦσιν ὕμνον ἄποιν᾽ ἀρετᾶς.
kings with a sonorous humnos as a reward for virtue.
This gnomic passage characterizes representing communication as orally generated and aurally received by virtue of the adjective euakhês ‘sonorous’, which modifies humnos. Since Pindar’s gnomic statements regularly express norms about language use, the gnomic style of Pythian 2.13–14 makes such a characterization all the more characteristic.
ἔργοις ὀπάζων Ἡσιόδου μάλα τιμᾷ τοῦτ᾽ ἔπος,
υἱοῖσί τε φράζων παραινεῖ.
in his deeds, especially honors this saying [epos] of Hesiod’s;
he relates it to his sons and advises them of it.
In this passage epos (line 67) names a form of represented communication that is not direct or indirect discourse, but an “other” type of represented discourse—in this case, Hesiod’s saying, which is not “quoted” but referred to in the passage. 
A. First-Person Statements
B. Gnomic Statements
II. Represented Communication
A. Direct Discourse
B. Indirect Discourse
C. “Other” Reported Discourse
Step 3: Status of the Epinician Text
Step 4: Voicing in the Epinician Text
Step 5: Methodological Controls
ὧδ᾽ ἀμείφθη· “Φαμὶ διδασκαλίαν Χίρωνος οἴσειν. ἀντρόθε γὰρ νέομαι
πὰρ Χαρικλοῦς καὶ Φιλύρας, ἵνα Κενταύρου με κοῦραι θρέψαν ἁγναί.
εἴκοσι δ᾽ ἐκτελέσαις ἐνιαυτοὺς οὔτε ἔργον
105 οὔτ᾽ ἔπος ἐκτράπελον κείνοισιν εἰπὼν ἱκόμαν
οἴκαδ᾽, ἀρχαίαν κομίζων πατρὸς ἐμοῦ, βασιλευομέναν
οὐ κατ᾽ αἶσαν, τάν ποτε Ζεὺς ὤπασεν λαγέτᾳ
Αἰόλῳ καὶ παισὶ τιμάν.”
Jason answered him [Pelias] in this way: “I say that I will produce the teaching of Khiron; for, I come from a cave,
from Khariklo and Philura, where the revered daughters of the Centaur raised me. After rounding out twenty years, and saying to those people neither a deed
nor word out of place, I have come
home, retrieving the ancient honor of my father, which is being ruled
not according to destiny—the honor that Zeus once granted to the leader of the people, Aiolos, and to his sons.”
This passage occurs in a context in which Jason responds to Pelias’ direct questions before a group of onlookers and, so, is an example of how represented communication bears indices of face-to-face interaction. Quotation marks do not suffice to indicate the status of and voicing in the text; it is the context of situation depicted in represented communication that matters.
ἐν κορυφαῖς ἀρετᾶν μεγάλαις, ἀρχαῖον ὀτρύνων λόγον…
among the greatest heights of virtues, beginning with the old story…
μέγα εἰπὼν σκοποῦ ἄντα τυχεῖν
ὥτ᾽ ἀπὸ τόξου ἱείς· εὔθυν᾽ ἐπὶ τοῦτον, ἄγε, Μοῖσα,
by saying something great, to hit the target straight on,
shooting, as it were, from my bow. Go, Muse, direct toward that [home]
a wind of words,
a glorious wind.
In contrast to Olympian 3.1–10, quoted above, these two passages do not have explicit indices of the mode of communication involved. I do not interpret the occurrence of logos at Nemean 1.34 as an index for the status of or voicing in Pindar’s texts because there is no evidence in the passage for the type of communication, oral or written, that this logos is. It can be argued on the basis of linguistic pragmatics that imperative forms at Nemean 6.28 suggest face-to-face interaction between a first-person addresser and second-person addressee. But again, the passage bears no explicit indication of the mode of communication. I apply these methodological controls throughout my analysis of Pindar’s metalanguage.
The “Oral Subterfuge” Hypothesis
As linguist Linda Waugh has written, “it would seem that in the context of the history of humanity as a whole, ‘spoken’ language is the unmarked term and ‘written’ language the marked term. ‘Written’ language is more specialized in many ways than ‘spoken’ language” (1982:308). We might expect the language of Pindar’s performed works to reflect this cross-culturally observed pattern in human language use, but there is an entrenched consensus that his artistic medium is written.  To illustrate, and by way of further strengthening my thesis that Pindar is an oral poet, I consider in terms of markedness a serious attempt to reconcile a putatively literary Pindar with the performed quality of his epinikia, the “oral subterfuge” hypothesis.
Carey and Miller segment performance into two stages: written composition, which they valorize as the truly creative act, and production of the song, which approaches interpretation as a matter, in part, of understanding how a written composition acts like a spoken one; the reality is written composition, the fiction, speech.
85 πλάξιππον ἃ Θήβαν ἔτικτεν, τᾶς ἐρατεινὸν ὕδωρ
πίομαι, ἀνδράσιν αἰχματαῖσι πλέκων
ποικίλον ὕμνον. ὄτρυνον νῦν ἑταίρους,
Αἰνέα, πρῶτον μὲν Ἥραν Παρθενίαν κελαδῆσαι,
γνῶναί τ᾽ ἔπειτ᾽, ἀρχαῖον ὄνειδος ἀλαθέσιν
90 λόγοις εἰ φεύγομεν, Βοιωτίαν ὗν. ἐσσὶ γὰρ ἄγγελος ὀρθός,
ἠυκόμων σκυτάλα Μοισᾶν, γλυκὺς κρατὴρ ἀγαφθέγκτων ἀοιδᾶν·
εἶπον δὲ μεμνᾶσθαι Συρακοσσᾶν τε καὶ Ὀρτυγίας·
τὰν Ἱέρων καθαρῷ σκάπτῳ διέπων,
ἄρτια μηδόμενος, φοινικόπεζαν
95 ἀμφέπει Δάματρα λευκίππου τε θυγατρὸς ἑορτάν
καὶ Ζηνὸς Αἰτναίου κράτος. ἁδύλογοι δέ νιν
λύραι μολπαί τε γινώσκοντι.
who bore horse-driving Thebes, whose lovely water
I drink as I weave for warrior men
an elaborate humnos. Now urge our companions,
Aeneas, first to sing of Hera the Maiden
and then to know whether we escape the old reproach, “Boiotian pig,” with true
words. You are an upright messenger,
a message-stick [skutala] of the Muses, whose hair is lovely; you are a sweet drinking bowl of loudly uttered songs.
Tell them to remember Syracuse and Ortygia,
which Hieron oversees with an untainted scepter,
he is devoted to Demeter with her red foot, and to the festival for her daughter, whose horses are white,
and to the power of Aetnan Zeus. Sweetly worded
lyres and songs know him.
Pindar addresses an Aeneas (line 88), whom the scholia identify as the chorus leader, and metaphorically calls him “a message-stick of the Muses” (line 91).  Ancient commentators describe the skutalê as a Spartan practice: the message-sender inscribed a message on a leather strip that was wrapped around a stick in such a way that the edges of the strip touched and formed a writing surface; when re-wound around a stick with the appropriate diameter, the notation could be decoded by the recipient of the message.  The message-stick is a device that entails a material mode of communication, potentially introducing at lines 84–87 the plus-interpretation of the marked member, writing, of the speech/writing opposition. But, as I now show, the passage actually obviates such a reading by evidencing the plus-interpretation of the unmarked member (speech) of the speech/writing opposition.
B: Aeneas as angelos (lines 87–92)
b: Angelia for Hieron (lines 93–96)
a: Representing communication, gnomic statement (lines 96–97)
Indices of spoken communication leak into the interior terms of this chiasmus as the result of a crucial parallel between the representing communication of the first-person addresser and the represented communication of the addressee: the first-person speaker characterizes himself as “weaving an elaborate humnos” (lines 86–87) and characterizes Aeneas as “a message-stick of the Muses” (line 91), pointing to the connection between the sung humnos and the model performance of the Muses, also song. Given that we must understand the first-person plural form pheugomen ‘we escape’ (90) as inclusive either of addresser and addressee or of addresser, the chorus, and addressee, the word’s occurrence in the middle of the passage near the crux of the chiasmus is yet another stitch binding together representing and represented communication, articulating still more emphatically the predominance of song and, so, speech in the passage. For further evidence that Olympian 6.84–97 is a record of spoken communication, first-person (lines 84, 86, and 90) and second-person forms (lines 87, 90, and 92) are indices of face-to-face interaction. Here, then, we have a compelling example to demonstrate that, in a context in which Pindar uses the metaphor of a material mode of communication, he applies the plus-interpretation of the unmarked term in the speech/writing opposition—namely, speech—to signal unambiguously the constitutive role of speech for this composition. 
Ἀρχεστράτου παῖδα, πόθι φρενός
ἐμᾶς γέγραπται· γλυκὺ γὰρ αὐτῷ μέλος ὀφείλων ἐπιλέλαθ᾽.
the son of Arkhestratos,  where
he has been inscribed in my heart; for I owe him a sweet song [melos] and have forgotten it.
The voicing in this passage indicates face-to-face interaction (not a text-reader interaction) by virtue of the second person plural imperative anagnôte ‘read out’ (line 1) and first-person singular forms (lines 1 and 3). The word melos ‘song’ (line 3) indicates the status of the text as a record of spoken, not written, communication. We can note as well that the passage is integrated as an instance of representing communication: the addresser represents the communication happening here as spoken (as always, taking song to mean also speech). As with Olympian 6.84–97, in the context of language that we might associate with a material mode of communication in Olympian 10.1–3, the plus-interpretation of the unmarked member (speech) of the speech/writing opposition surfaces, resolving any ambiguity about whether Pindar is representing his composition as spoken or as written.  Whereas the “oral subterfuge” hypothesis presents a theory of epinician composition predicated upon the putative given of written composition, Pindar’s theory of epinician composition is predicated upon the constitutive role that speech plays in his art, as status of and voicing in his texts and the test of markedness show. This brings us back to Pythian 1.1–4: in light of the fact that, when subject to an ethnographic analysis of metalanguage and metacommunication, Pindar’s texts represent themselves to us as records of speech, not writing, of what are the epinician sâmata signs?
Epinician Sâmata ‘Signs’
τοιοδώρῳ σὺν πατρὶ μακρότεραι
Τερψίᾳ θ᾽ ἕψοντ᾽ Ἐριτίμῳ τ᾽ ἀοιδαί·
ὅσσα τ᾽ ἐν Δελφοῖσιν ἀριστεύσατε
ἠδὲ χόρτοις ἐν λέοντος, δηρίομαι πολέσιν
45 περὶ πλήθει καλῶν· ὡς μὰν σαφές
οὐκ ἂν εἰδείην λέγειν ποντιᾶν ψάφων ἀριθμόν.
ἕπεται δ᾽ ἐν ἑκάστῳ
μέτρον· νοῆσαι δὲ καιρὸς ἄριστος.
ἐγὼ δὲ ἴδιος ἐν κοινῷ σταλείς
50 μῆτίν τε γαρύων παλαιγόνων
πόλεμόν τ᾽ ἐν ἡρωίαις ἀρεταῖσιν
οὐ ψεύσομ᾽ ἀμφὶ Κορίνθῳ.
longer songs will follow his  father, Ptoiodoros,
and Terpsias  and Eritimos. 
As many achievements as you enjoyed at Delphi
and in the lion’s fields,  I dispute with many
over the abundance of excellence.
I would not know how to count out accurately the number of sea pebbles.
In every matter
moderation matters. The best discretion is to recognize [noêsai] this.
As a private individual sent before the public
singing out about their ancestors’ ingenuity
and warfare among their heroic successes,
I will not speak falsely about Corinth.
Pindar’s (rhetorical) inability to list all of the achievements of Xenophon’s family results from his recognition of propriety as expressed in the gnomic statement, “In every matter moderation matters” (line 47). In the context of Pindar’s praise poetry kairos ‘timing’ can entail, as at Olympian 13.48, what Bundy (1962:73–76) has called the siga ‘silence’ motif, which is a conventional acknowledgement that excessive praise runs the risk of violating decorum or inciting jealousy. If, as Nagy demonstrates, the poetics of noêsis entails recognition, then at Olympian 13.48 Pindar represents the act of composition as recognition of social conventions concerning appropriate speech, as witnessed by his use of the verb noêsai. 
90 ἐκ μαλθακᾶς αὖτε φρενὸς εὐκλέας ὀιστοὺς ἱέντες; ἐπί τοι
αὐδάσομαι ἐνόρκιον λόγον ἀλαθεῖ νόῳ,
τεκεῖν μή τιν᾽ ἑκατόν γε ἐτέων πόλιν φίλοις ἄνδρα μᾶλλον
εὐεργέταν πραπίσιν ἀφθονέστερόν τε χέρα
when we launch glorious arrows from our subtle mind?
Taking aim at Akragas
I will voice a claim pledged with a true mind [noos],
that for one hundred years no city has produced a man who is for his friends a greater
benefactor thanks to his thoughtfulness or more generous with his strength
Pindar vouches for his logos with an alathês noos, where this ‘true mind’ serves as the faculty of recognition of the praiseworthy qualities (lines 93–95) of Theron, the song’s laudandus. The representation of the composition in terms of an interior dialogue conditions Pindar’s use of noos (line 92). In this connection, witness the self-address in the form of a prayer directed to the speaker’s thumos (line 89) and the description of metaphorical arrows of song being launched from the speaker’s malthaka phrên ‘subtle mind’ (line 90). In the absence of evidence indicating otherwise, it is methodologically appropriate to interpret inductively such an interior dialogue as representing composition as a process of recognition, a process that is in progress. From this point of view Pindar’s exercise of noos to enact recognition can be interpreted as a live display of the composer-performer’s competence in an original performance, as composition-in-performance. In Olympian 1 the same dynamic occurs in a prayer addressed to composer’s êtor ‘heart’: “But take the Dorian lyre from its peg, if at all the grace of Pisa and Pherenikos put your mind [noos] under the influence of the sweetest thoughts” (ἀλλὰ Δωρίαν ἀπὸ φόρμιγγα πασσάλου / λάμβαν᾽, εἴ τί τοι Πίσας τε καὶ Φερενίκου χάρις / νόον ὑπὸ γλυκυτάταις ἔθηκε φροντίσιν, lines 17–19). The mention of Pisa is a topographical reference to the site of the Olympic Games, where the laudandus, Hieron, enjoyed his victory; Pherenikos is the name of his horse; and these features of Hieron’s athletic contest motivate recognition by the composer’s êtor. This occurrence of noos is accordingly a display of “propriety that determines the relationship between song and merit.” Like Olympian 2.89–95, Olympian 1.17–19 depicts the composition process by representing the composer as engaged in an internal dialogue, as evidenced by the word noos and the phrase ὑπὸ γλυκυτάταις…φροντίσιν ‘under the influence of the sweetest thoughts’ (line 19), about how to compose his song. 
ἐς πλόον ἀρχομένοις πομπαῖον ἐλθεῖν οὖρον· ἐοικότα γάρ
35 καὶ τελευτᾷ φερτέρου νόστου τυχεῖν. ὁ δὲ λόγος
ταύταις ἐπὶ συντυχίαις δόξαν φέρει
λοιπὸν ἔσσεσθαι στεφάνοισί ν<ιν> ἵπποις τε κλυτάν
καὶ σὺν εὐφώνοις θαλίαις ὀνυμαστάν.
Λύκιε καὶ Δάλοι᾽ ἀνάσσων Φοῖβε Παρνασσοῦ τε κράναν Κασταλίαν φιλέων,
40 ἐθελήσαις ταῦτα νόῳ τιθέμεν εὔανδρόν τε χώραν.
ἐκ θεῶν γὰρ μαχαναὶ πᾶσαι βροτέαις ἀρεταῖς,
καὶ σοφοὶ καὶ χερσὶ βιαταὶ περίγλωσσοί τ᾽ ἔφυν. ἄνδρα δ᾽ ἐγὼ κεῖνον
αἰνῆσαι μενοινῶν ἔλπομαι
μὴ χαλκοπάραον ἄκονθ᾽ ὡσείτ᾽ ἀγῶνος βαλεῖν ἔξω παλάμᾳ δονέων,
45 μακρὰ δὲ ῥίψαις ἀμεύσασθ᾽ ἀντίους.
when they set out on a voyage is for a favorable wind to come; then it is likely
that at the completion of their journey they have a secure return. This statement,
given the present success, suggests
that in the future this city will be renowned for crowns and horses
and famed for its lovely sounding celebrations.
Lycian, you who rule Delos; Phoibos, you who cherish Parnassus’ Kastalian spring,
I hope that you are willing to put these things in your mind [noos] and to make the land a place for noble people;
for all devices for mortal virtues originate with the gods,
and the wise, the mighty, and those gifted at speech are born that way. And that man [Hieron], I
want to praise him and hope that,
as if in a contest, brandishing in my hand the bronze-cheeked spear, I do not throw it out of bounds,
but that by casting it far I surpass my opponents.
In this passage the application of noos and the criterion of alatheia again serve as a display of the composer’s recognition of the “propriety that deter-mines the relationship between song and merit.” In the prayer addressed to Apollo, the zeugma  involving the infinitive tithemen ‘to put’ (line 40) effectively links the two requests uttered by the praise poet: first, to recognize the validity of the praise communicated in lines 35–37 and, second, to actualize the doxa ‘glory’ (line 36) of Hieron’s city by making the land prosperous.
ψόφον ἀϊὼν Κασταλίας
ὀρφανὸν ἀνδρῶν χορεύσιος ἦλθον
10 ἔταις ἀμαχανίαν ἀ[λ]έξων
τεοῖσιν ἐμαῖς τε τιμ[α]ῖς·
ἤτορι δὲ φίλῳ παῖς ἅτε ματέρι κεδνᾷ
πειθόμενος κατέβαν στεφάνων
καὶ θαλιᾶν τροφὸν ἄλσος Ἀ-
I heard the sound of Kastalia
bereft of men’s dancing and came
to ward off helplessness
from your kinsmen and from my honors.
Obeying [peithomenos] my heart like a child obeys his cherished mother
to the nurse of crowns and festivities,
the sanctuary of Apollo’s.
If, like noos, êtor functions as the faculty of recognition and if peithein is a word that Pindar frequently uses to characterize the effect of a speech act upon an addressee, then at Paean 6.12–13 we have an especially outstanding case of composition represented as recognition. In some ways similar to Pindar’s entreaty to the Muse at Pythian 1.58–59, the phrase êtori de philô…peithomenos ‘obeying my heart’ (Paean 6.12–13) describes the persuasive power of a speaker; in this passage the speaker represents his composition as an interior dialogue, as an act of recognition-as-reception that guides composition and performance.