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.
2. Epinikion as Event
χρῆσις· ἔστιν δ᾽ οὐρανίων ὑδάτων,
ὀμβρίων παίδων νεφέλας.
other times, their greatest need is for waters of the heavens,
rainy children of a cloud.
The ornate description of rainfall as “waters of the heavens” and appositionally as “rainy children of a cloud” is a figurative gesture whose meaning is context-sensitive. Bundy explains the images of wind and rain as a socially conventional “occupational type” of foil: “here sailors and farmers, who have need of wind and rain, respectively, are foil for achievement in general” (1962:10). This interpretation hinges upon background information shared by the epinician performer and his audience and highlights how meaning is context-specific. By calling attention to the situatedness of the social meaning in epinikion, Bundy’s observation of the “occupational type” of foil indicates how Pindar’s figurative language keys performance: Olympian 11.1–3 is not a statement about rain and winds, taken literally, but has a context-specific function, to serve as a foil for the central message of Olympian 11’s performance.
Special Paralinguistic Features
- a “transitional formula” signals the end of a descriptive passage and moves a song from a foil to the central topic, the laudandus’s achievement (1962:2–3);
- ἴσθι νῦν (isthi nun) ‘know now’: νῦν (nun) ‘now’ frequently occurs “in the introduction of climactic terms” of a priamel and ἴσθι (isthi) ‘know’ is “the regular asseveration” that follows a summary priamel (20);
- “the formulaic designation of the laudandus’s home city” (21n48 and 23n53);
- the “gnomic climax” of a summary foil, through which the composer asserts the importance of propriety (37);
- ἀλλά (alla) ‘but’ and καὶ νῦν (kai nun) ‘and now’ are “formulaic” in climaxes to a name priamel (37–38);
- the “σιγά [siga ‘silence’] motive” which “implies that to overdo a subject brings the speaker little pleasure, and…to know when to cease may actually increase it” and “concerns itself with the advantage or disadvantage of the speaker in terms of audience reaction” (75, emphasis in original); 
- the “χρέος-τεθμός [khreos–tethmos ‘necessity-assignment’] motive,” through which the composer expresses the necessity of sticking to his topic, the “assignment” (42);
- motifs associated with the theme of the “praise of wealth and its proper use”: “(1) εὐεργεσία [euergesia ‘act of kindness’] (good works, liberality, indifference to gain); (2) human expectations (shared humanity, human dependence on God or fate); and (3) enduring fame (occasionally literal immortality)” (86–87).
None of these are formulae in the sense of “special phrases,” as described in Foley’s discussion of performance keys in How to Read an Oral Poem: “the guslar’s (and Bishop Njegoš’s) ‘well-wrought tower’ or ‘shaggy brown horse’ or Homer’s ‘wine-dark sea’ or the Old English poet’s ‘foamy-necked ship’” (Foley 2002:90). If we consider verbal art as performance cross-culturally, then we should not expect that special formulae will always be phraseological words, like the Homeric epithet, or that they are “of equal importance in all oral poetries,” as Foley stipulates (Foley 2002:90). I will show in Chapters Three and Four that the ways of epinician speaking—stylistic patterns that constitute the epinician way of speaking—are discursive formulae that are conventional to epinikion.  The Appendix to Pindar’s Verbal Art presents evidence suggesting that the use of these ways of epinician speaking are so highly patterned that deviations from such patterns can be artistically meaningful. When special formulae occur, even conceived in terms of the list of Bundy’s formulaic conventions of epinikion, they serve, along with other performance keys, to segment performance as a specially framed speech event. 
Appeal to Tradition
τίνα θεόν, τίν᾽ ἥρωα, τίνα δ᾽ ἄνδρα κελαδήσομεν;
of what god, of what hero, of what man shall we sing in praise?
This passage is an appeal to tradition, serving to locate Olympian 2 in relation to existing conventions for praise associated with the strategy of humnos. Rather than resorting to literal exegesis to interpret Pindar’s references to song and dance, we can more empirically interpret them as explicit appeals to tradition that key performance, as in the passage’s opening, where Pindar aligns his composition with the traditional humnos. Some examples of other explicit appeals to tradition include references to Homer, a past authority who demonstrates the power of persuasive speech to create an enduring record of action (Pythian 4.277, Nemean 7.21, and Isthmian 4.37);  one reference to Arkhilokhos (Olympian 9.1) positively compares that poet’s art with epinician praise;  another, discussed above, specifically contrasts Pindar’s praise poetry with Arkhilokhos’ blame poetry (Pythian 2.55).
Disclaimer of Performance
In this passage Pindar displays his observance of the conditions for appropriate speech expressed by gnomic statements that occur earlier in the song:
φάτις ὑπὲρ τὸν ἀλαθῆ λόγον
δεδαιδαλμένοι ψεύδεσι ποικίλοις ἐξαπατῶντι μῦθοι. 
speech in excess of a true account,
stories crafted with ornate lies, are utterly deceptive.
One example of “stories crafted with ornate lies” is the story that Pelops’ ivory shoulder replaced the flesh and bone shoulder eaten by Demeter in another version of the Pelops story. By refusing to tell such a story (Olympian 1.52), Pindar observes the conditions for propriety communicated at Olympian 1.28–29. This is one sense in which Pindar says one thing and does another: by saying that he will not tell a deceptive story, he performs a display of his competence in the appropriate use of speech. In this respect, we can see the break-off at Olympian 1.52 as an example of Bundy’s siga-motif, a Pindaric formula that corresponds to Bauman’s characterization of the disclaimer of performance, which “serves as a moral gesture, to counterbalance the power of performance to focus heightened attention on the performer, and a key to performance itself” (1977:23).
Performance Keys Conclusion