Pindar’s Verbal Art: An Ethnographic Study of Epinician Style

  Wells, James Bradley. 2010. Pindar's Verbal Art: An Enthnographic Study of Epinician Style. Hellenic Studies Series 40. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies.

4. Ways of Epinician Speaking II

The forms of prayer in Pindar’s epinikia are diverse, but they have converging stylistic features that indicate an overall pattern, a speech genre. The multiformity of precatory speech acts in Pindar’s epinikia complicates the preliminary question involved in the description of every simple epinician speech genre—how to define the domain of analysis. If the objective is to describe the patterning of ethnographic features constitutive of the speech genre of prayer, how do we decide what passages of Pindar’s epinikia to include in such an analysis? One tendency in existing scholarship on Pindar’s prayers has been to assume that the question of whether or not Pindar addresses his prayers to a deity is a relevant domain of analysis. [1] But methodologically the assumption of the relevance of religion to Pindar’s prayers results from a deductive analysis that foregrounds the referential function of language and inserts the prayer-deity equation into the mix of considerations in an exegetical analysis of Pindar’s style. From the perspective of a speech- and performance-centered analysis, the relevant descriptive criteria are to be discovered ethnographically. Observing the principle of intersubjective objectivity, I take my descriptive cues from Pindar’s own language practices to determine the domain of analysis for epinician prayers. My first step will be to look at the forms of metalanguage that Pindar uses to name epinician prayers in order to identify the scope of the speech genre’s speech plan. In support of this approach, I cite Bakhtin’s elaboration of his concept of speech plan, one of the features constitutive of speech genres: “[t]his plan determines both the choice of the subject itself (under certain conditions of speech communication, in necessary connection with preceding utterances), as well as its boundaries and semantic exhaustiveness. It also determines, of course, the choice of a generic form in which the utterance will be constructed” (1986:77). [2] On the basis of an empirical description of the functional load of Pindar’s prayers, we can discover syntactic patterns associated with the utterances that fulfill those functions. This is the second step in my analysis. I stress, however, that syntax is not constitutive of speech genres; syntax includes deictic information about the constitutive features of speech genres—speech subject, addressee, speech object, and their spatio-temporal dimensions. [3] By identifying what gets included in the domain of analysis on the basis of speech plan and syntax, it is possible, finally, to discover the ethnographic features of prayer style that co-occur in every Pindaric prayer.

The Speech Plan of Epinician Prayers

I will first describe the prayer functions named by forms of metalanguage characterized by the stem eukh– and then go on to describe functions named by other forms of prayer metalanguage.

Eukhos ‘Vaunt’

To deal first with what might appear to be the form of language use most tenuously attributed to the category of prayer, the word eukhos occurs three times in Pindar’s epinikia:

60      τίς δὴ ποταίνιον
          ἔλαχε στέφανον
          χείρεσσι ποσίν τε καὶ ἅρματι,
          ἀγώνιον ἐν δόξᾳ θέμενος εὖχος, ἔργῳ καθελών;

Olympian 10.60–63

Who took the latest
victory wreath
by hand, by foot, by chariot,
first imagining a contestant’s vaunt [eukhos], then achieving it in deed?

20      μάκαρ δὲ καὶ νῦν, κλεεννᾶς ὅτι 
          εὖχος ἤδη παρὰ Πυθιάδος ἵπποις ἑλών
          δέδεξαι τόνδε κῶμον ἀνέρων,
          Ἀπολλώνιον ἄθυρμα.

Pythian 5.20–23

And you are blessed now because,
after you gained a vaunt [eukhos] with your horses from the renowned Pythian Games,
you have received this reveling group of men,
Apollo’s delight.

          ἑκόντι δ᾽ ἐγὼ νώτῳ μεθέπων δίδυμον ἄχθος
          ἄγγελος ἔβαν,
          πέμπτον ἐπὶ εἴκοσι τοῦτο γαρύων
          εὖχος ἀγώνων ἄπο, τοὺς ἐνέποισιν ἱερούς,
60      Ἀλκίμιδα, τέ γ᾽ ἐπαρκέσαι
          κλειτᾷ γενεᾷ.

Nemean 6.57–61

Taking a double burden on my willing back,
I have come as a messenger,
announcing that this twenty-fifth
vaunt [eukhos] from the contests that they call sacred,
you, Alkimidas, convey
to your famous family.

At Olympian 10.63 eukhos occurs in the context of what I described in Chapter 3 as the simple speech genre angelia. The composer represents himself as deliberating about whose victory the current composition celebrates and represents the laudandus as contemplating an agônion eukhos ‘competitor’s vaunt’. [
14] To characterize the composition and performance of an individual song in the language of prayer proves to be a highly salient pattern in Pindar’s use of this speech genre. The occurrence of eukhos at Pythian 5.21 also refers to the song and its performance. This reference is further articulated by the phrase δέδεξαι τόνδε κῶμον ἀνέρων “you have received this reveling group of men” (line 22). As the choral-monody debate in Pindar scholarship makes clear, kômos is a word that Pindar regularly uses to describe epinician performance. Lines 20–23 of Pythian 5 juxtapose the kômos with eukhos. Especially relevant to identifying the ethnographic features of Pindar’s prayers is the second-person address to Pythian 5’s laudandus, Arkesilas, at lines 20 and 22. At Nemean 6.57–61 the composer represents himself as an angelos who announces that the laudandus is conveying an eukhos, which we can understand as both the prestige of athletic victory and the commemoration of it in epinician performance. As in Pythian 5.20–23, Nemean 6.57–61 includes a second-person address to the song’s laudandus, Alkimidas. Taken together, these passages indicate that eukhos can refer to the prestige of victory and to the performance of epinikion itself. This turns out to be one of the ways that Pindar uses the verb eukhesthai, indicating that this latter form of metalanguage for epinician prayers has applications that embrace those of eukhos.

Eukhesthai ‘To Pray’ or ‘To Vaunt’

In comparison to other forms of metalanguage for epinician prayers, Pindar applies eukhesthai to name the broadest range of functions for the speech genre. To first illustrate Pindar’s uses of eukhesthai in the sense of ‘to vaunt’, I cite two passages:

20      ἐθελήσω τοῖσιν ἐξ ἀρχᾶς ἀπὸ Τλαπολέμου
          ξυνὸν ἀγγέλλων διορθῶσαι λόγον,
          εὐρυσθενεῖ γέννᾳ. τὸ μὲν γὰρ πατρόθεν ἐκ Διὸς εὔχονται· τὸ δ᾽ ᾽Αμυντορίδαι
          ματρόθεν Ἀστυδαμείας.

Olympian 7.20–24

Concealing fear in his heart,
Pelias addressed Jason: “What land, stranger, do you boast [eukheai]
is your homeland? And what earthborn people produced
you from a grey womb? Without tainting your reply with hateful lies,
tell your descent.”

As with eukhos at Nemean 6.57–61 (quoted above), Pindar’s use of eukhesthai at Olympian 7.20–24 occurs in a context where the composer represents himself as a messenger. As with eukhos at Pythian 5.20–23 and Nemean 6.57–61, the use of eukhesthai at Pythian 4.97 occurs in a (represented) context characterized by second-person address. In both passages, Olympian 7.20–24 and Pythian 4.96–100, eukhesthai has the sense of ‘to boast’, parallel to the meaning of eukhos ‘vaunt’. Clustering around these uses of eukhesthai in the sense of ‘to boast’ are syntactic constructions in which Pindar tends to couch his prayers: a second-person imperative verb eipe ‘tell’ (Pythian 4.100) and ethelein ‘to wish, to be willing’ + infinitive (Olympian 7.20–21).

The function of eukhesthai at Pythian 4.96–100 and Olympian 7.20–24, to perform a eukhos, contrasts with the most frequently occurring use of the verb, which is to make a request, to pray. Here I cite examples: [17]

Τυνδαρίδαις τε φιλοξείνοις ἁδεῖν καλλιπλοκάμῳ θ᾽ Ἑλένᾳ
κλεινὰν Ἀκράγαντα γεραίρων εὔχομαι.

Olympian 3.1–2

To please the descendents of Tyndareus, who are kind to friends, and to please Helen, whose hair is lovely,
I pray [eukhomai], as I honor famous Akragas.

          ἀλλ᾽ εὔχεται οὐλομέναν νοῦσον διαντλήσαις ποτέ
          οἶκον ἰδεῖν, ἐπ᾽ Ἀπόλλωνός τε κράνᾳ συμποσίας ἐφέπων
295     θυμὸν ἐκδόσθαι πρὸς ἥβαν πολλάκις, ἔν τε σοφοῖς 
          δαιδαλέαν φόρμιγγα βαστάζων πολίταις ἡσυχίᾳ θιγέμεν,
          μήτ᾽ ὦν τινι πῆμα πορών, ἀπαθὴς δ᾽ αὐτὸς πρὸς ἀστῶν·
          καί κε μυθήσαιθ᾽, ὁποίαν, Ἀρκεσίλα,
          εὗρε παγὰν ἀμβροσίων ἐπέων, πρόσφατον Θήβᾳ ξενωθείς.

Pythian 4.293–299

But after enduring his wretched sickness, he [Damophilos] prays [eukhetai]
to see his home one day, and taking part in the symposium at Apollo’s spring,
he prays that he often give his heart to youth’s enjoyments, and among wise
citizens picking up the intricately designed lyre, he prays that he may touch peace,
bringing pain to none, and that he may be without affliction among the townspeople.
Damophilos would tell the story, Arkesilas, of what
a spring of ambrosial words he found when he was recently a guest in Thebes.

εὔχομαί νιν Ὀλυμπίᾳ τοῦτο δόμεν γέρας ἔπι Βάττου γένει.

Pythian 5.124

I pray [eukhomai] that he [i.e. Zeus] grant this prize at Olympia for the race of Battos.

In each of these passages, the construction eukhesthai + infinitive expresses a request in the sense of ‘to pray for’ or ‘to pray that’. This function of eukhesthai is analogous to that of the set of prayer-metalanguage characterized by the stem lit-: lissesthai ‘to entreat’, lita ‘entreaty’, litaneuein ‘to entreat’, and litos ‘supplicatory’. At Olympian 3.1–2 and Pythian 5.124, where eukhesthai in the sense of ‘to pray for’ or ‘to pray that’ occurs, Pindar represents his song in terms of a prayer uttered in a first-person voice. At Pythian 4.298–299 Pindar represents his composition as Damophilos’ discovery, in the context of describing the latter’s prayers at lines 293–297. I note as well the use of potential optative at Pythian 4.298, in the context of Pindar’s use of eukhesthai in the sense of ‘to pray for’ or ‘to pray that’. The fact that this syntactic construction occurs in the context of prayers—both the reported prayers of Damophilos and the prayer style indicated by the second-person address to the laudandus of Pythian 4, Arkesilas (line 298)—suggests that a potential optative is to be included among the possible syntactic constructions in which Pindar may nest his prayers.

Two functions of eukhesthai remain to describe. The first suggests that eukhos and eukha are to be described as the main subcategories of eukhesthai:

          Καφισίων ὑδάτων
          λαχοῖσαι αἵτε ναίετε καλλίπωλον ἕδραν,
          ὦ λιπαρᾶς ἀοίδιμοι βασίλειαι
          Χάριτες Ἐρχομενοῦ, παλαιγόνων Μινυᾶν ἐπίσκοποι,
5        κλῦτ᾽, ἐπεὶ εὔχομαι· σὺν γὰρ ὑμῖν τά <τε> τερπνὰ καί 5
          τὰ γλυκέ᾽ ἄνεται πάντα βροτοῖς,
          εἰ σοφός, εἰ καλός, εἴ τις ἀγλαὸς ἀνήρ.

Olympian 14.1–7

You who possess the Kephisian waters,
who dwell in a realm with beautiful foals,
revered for your singing, you Queens of bright
Orchomenos, Graces, you keepers of the long line of Minyans,
hear when I pray [eukhomai]; for, thanks to you, every delight,
every sweetness is a joy to mortals,
if one is wise, if beautiful, if full of splendor.

In this passage eukhesthai could mean either ‘to pray’ or ‘to vaunt’; the phrase klut’, epei eukhomai could as reasonably be translated “Hear me, when I pray” as “Hear me, when I make a vaunt.” Like his uses of eukhos at Pythian 5.20–23, Nemean 6.57–61, and Olympian 10.60–63, I interpret Pindar’s use of eukhesthai at Olympian 14.5 as a way of describing the composition and performance of the song itself. The fact that Pindar describes epinician song, the complex speech genre, in terms of the language of prayer, a simple speech genre, as we have seen, suggests that the very use of that prayer language may by convention imply an act of commemorating, honoring, or celebrating the addressee of a prayer. [
18] As a final observation about Olympian 14.1–7, the intransitive use of eukhesthai in line 5 has a second-person addressee, the Kharites, as indicated by vocative forms (lines 3–4) and by second-person plural forms (line 5).

The final type of function to which Pindar applies eukhesthai is to express a vow. The relevant passage occurs in a mythological narrative about the birth of Iamos to Apollo and Euadne; when Apollo searches for his newborn son, the members of Euadne’s home claim not to know the child’s whereabouts:

τοὶ δ᾽ οὔτ᾽ ὦν ἀκοῦσαι
οὔτ᾽ ἰδεῖν εὔχοντο πεπταῖον γεγενημένον.

Olympian 6.52–53

That they neither heard
nor saw the boy, they swore [eukhonto], though it had been five days since his birth.

The occurrence of eukhesthai at Olympian 6.53 in the sense of ‘to swear that’ (a subcategory of eukhesthai in the sense of ‘to pray for’ or ‘to pray that’) involves the syntactic structure of eukhesthai with a complementary infinitive. More important for identifying the scope of the speech plan of Pindar’s prayers is the observation that this use of eukhesthai is analogous to one of the uses of eukha ‘prayer’, to name a vow.

Eukha ‘Prayer’

Pindar uses two occurrences of eukha in the context of uttering an entreaty, a use that is analogous to eukhesthai in the sense of ‘to pray for’ or ‘to pray that’ and to lissesthai ‘to entreat’, lita ‘entreaty’, litaneuein ‘to entreat’, and litos ‘supplicatory’. This is the first example:

          Ἐλατὴρ ὑπέρτατε βροντᾶς ἀκαμαντόποδος Ζεῦ· τεαὶ γὰρ Ὧραι
          ὑπὸ ποικιλοφόρμιγγος ἀοιδᾶς ἑλισσόμεναί μ᾽ ἔπεμψαν
          ὑψηλοτάτων μάρτυρ᾽ ἀέθλων·
          ξείνων δ᾽ εὖ πρασσόντων
5        ἔσαναν αὐτικ᾽ ἀγγελίαν ποτὶ γλυκεῖαν ἐσλοί· 
          ἀλλὰ Κρόνου παῖ, ὃς Αἴτναν ἔχεις
          ἶπον ἀνεμόεσσαν ἑκατογκεφάλα Τυφῶνος ὀβρίμου,
          δέξαι Χαρίτων θ᾽ ἕκατι τόνδε κῶμον
10      χρονιώτατον φάος εὐρυσθενέων ἀρετᾶν. Ψαύμιος γὰρ ἵκει 
          ὀκέων, ὃς ἐλαίᾳ στεφανωθεὶς Πισάτιδι κῦδος ὄρσαι
          σπεύδει Καμαρίνᾳ. θεὸς εὔφρων
          εἴη λοιπαῖς εὐχαῖς·
          ἐπεί νιν αἰνέω.

Olympian 4.1–14

The characterization of a god as possessed of a responsive position (euphrôn ‘favorable’, line 12) helps us to see that a form of request is entailed in the function of eukhai (line 13). As often occurs in Pindar’s prayers, at Olympian 4.1–14 the composer represents the performance of the song in terms of prayer: he describes himself as a “witness to the sublimest contests” (line 3), a statement that is qualified by the following gnomic statement (lines 4–5), which expresses the propriety of performing an angelia ‘victory announcement’; the second-person imperative address to Zeus (lines 8–10) entreats the god to “accept this Olympian victor’s revel”; at line 14, the composer represents the performance of Olympian 4 as the performance of ainos ‘praise’ (line 14) in the sense of the conventional poetics of praise and blame, as described in Chapter Two. To record the syntactic constructions associated with prayer in Olympian 4.1–14, there is a second-person imperative type prayer (lines 8–10) and an optative of wish (lines 12–13, where the instance of eukha in the sense of ‘entreaty’ occurs).

The final example of eukha occurs in the context of direct discourse in a mythological narrative, where Herakles utters a prayer while making libations at the request of Telamon:

          ὁ δ᾽ ἀνατείναις οὐρανῷ χεῖρας ἀμάχους
          αὔδασε τοιοῦτον {τι} ἔπος· “Εἴ ποτ᾽ ἐμᾶν, ὦ Ζεῦ πάτερ,
          θυμῷ θέλων ἀρᾶν ἄκουσας,
          νῦν σε, νῦν εὐχαῖς ὑπὸ θεσπεσίαις
45      λίσσομαι παῖδα θρασὺν ἐξ Ἐριβοίας
          ἀνδρὶ τῷδε ξεῖνον ἁμὸν μοιρίδιον τελέσαι.”

Isthmian 6.41–46

This example of prayer is especially illustrative because Pindar represents a prayer in direct discourse and the passage includes three forms of metalanguage for prayer. Eukhai (line 44) has the sense of ‘entreaty’, especially when considered in the context of the use of a form of lissesthai ‘to entreat’ (line 45). The only epinician instance of ara ‘prayer’ (line 43) is the most inclusive term for the forms of prayer metalanguage that occur in this passage. Given the richness of this example, the second-person address to Zeus stands out as a feature embracing and organizing the multiple forms of metalanguage for prayer in the passage.

Lita ‘Entreaty’

Recalling that the metacommunication about appropriateness rules for the epinician way of speaking can be a useful heuristic device for discovering stylistic patterns in Pindar’s songs, I cite a gnomic statement that expresses norms about the use of the word lita ‘entreaty’:

          ἄνεται δὲ πρὸς χάριν εὐσεβίας ἀνδρῶν λιταῖς·
          ἀλλ᾽ ὦ Πίσας εὔδενδρον ἐπ᾽ Ἀλφεῷ ἄλσος,
10      τόνδε κῶμον καὶ στεφαναφορίαν δέξαι· μέγα τοι κλέος αἰεί,
          ᾧτινι σὸν γέρας ἕσπετ᾽ ἀγλαόν.

Olympian 8.8–11

Men’s entreaties [litai] are fulfilled in reciprocity for reverence.
But grove of Pisa, you with your lovely trees beside the Alpheos River,
accept this victory revel and the bringing of the crown. Renown is always great
for whomever your splendid prize attends.

In the context of Olympian 8’s performance, the gnomic statement at line 8 bears upon the audience’s evaluation of the composer. To fulfill the rules for appropriate speech communicated by this gnomic statement merits a positive evaluation of the song’s performance. Immediately following this gnomic statement about one condition for favorable response to lita, the composer utters a lita in the next two lines (9–10). As we will see, the justification for labeling this utterance a lita ‘entreaty’ follows from the fact that the use of lissesthai ‘to entreat’ is regularly accompanied by a second-person imperative verb in the form of, “I entreat you, do X.” Based upon this, I identify prayers in the form of a second-person imperative, like that at Olympian 8.9–10, as litai. By implication, that particular lita enacts the principle of reciprocity communicated by the gnomic statement; by further implication, the entreaty, which entails positive evaluation of the song’s performance, assumes that the composer fulfills the criterion of eusebia ‘reverence’ (line 8). In this context I understand the entreaty as a way to identify competent performance of the epinician way of speaking because it correlates to Bundy’s observation of the conventional “propriety that determines the relationship between song and merit” (1962:11). In this passage, then, there is a form of metacommunication whereby the composer expresses a criterion for assessing his composition and Pindar immediately fulfills that criterion. We should note as well the following grammatical (deictic) features of the passage: vocative address (line 9), second-person imperative (line 10), and second-person singular possessive adjective (line 11). In addition, like other epinician prayers we have considered, in this passage Pindar represents the song’s performance in terms of prayer.

Other examples of Pindar’s use of lita ‘entreaty’ illustrate the persuasive power of the speech act they name. In the first example, the context is a description of the Isle of the Blessed; after listing some of those who dwell there, Pindar tells of Achilles:

          Ἀχιλλέα τ᾽ ἔνεικ᾽, ἐπεὶ Ζηνὸς ἦτορ
80      λιταῖς ἔπεισε, μάτηρ.

Olympian 2.79–80

The second example also illustrates the persuasive power of lita, this time in the context of describing how Jason learned magical arts from Aphrodite:

          πότνια δ᾽ ὀξυτάτων βελέων
          ποικίλαν ἴυγγα τετράκναμον Οὐλυμπόθεν
215     ἐν ἀλύτῳ ζεύξαισα κύκλῳ
          μαινάδ᾽ ὄρνιν Κυπρογένεια φέρεν
          πρῶτον ἀνθρώποισι λιτάς τ᾽ ἐπαοιδὰς ἐκδιδάσκησεν σοφὸν Αἰσονίδαν·
          ὄφρα Μηδείας τοκέων ἀφέλοιτ᾽ αἰδῶ, ποθεινὰ δ᾽ Ἑλλὰς αὐτάν
          ἐν φρασὶ καιομέναν δονέοι μάστιγι Πειθοῦς.

Pythian 4.213–219

The queen of the sharpest arrows,
after joining a mottled wryneck to four spokes
of an inescapable wheel, from Olympus
the Cyprus-born goddess brought this maddening bird
to men for the first time and she taught the son of Aison how to be knowledgeable in entreaties [litai] and incantations,
in order to remove Medea’s shame before her parents and so that desirous Hellas
would disturb her when she is burning in her mind under the lash of Persuasion.

We also witness the persuasive power of lita in a passage that uses the adjectival for litos ‘supplicatory’:

          εἰ δ᾽ ἐτύμως ὑπὸ Κυλλάνας ὄρος, Ἁγησία, μάτρωες ἄνδρες
          ναιετάοντες ἐδώρησαν θεῶν κάρυκα λιταῖς θυσίαις
          πολλὰ δὴ πολλαῖσιν Ἑρμᾶν εὐσεβέως, ὃς ἁγῶνας ἔχει μοῖράν τ᾽ ἀέθλων,
80      Ἀρκαδίαν τ᾽ εὐάνορα τιμᾷ· κεῖνος, ὦ παῖ Σωστράτου,
          σὺν βαρυγδούπῳ πατρὶ κραίνει σέθεν εὐτυχίαν.

Olympian 6.77–81

In this occurrence of litos ‘supplicatory’ (line 78), as with each of the uses of lita ‘entreaty’ that illustrate the persuasive power of the speech act that the word names, I suggest that there is a connection between the poetics of prayer (lines 79–80) and the poetics of praise that is reflected in the two main senses in which Pindar uses the word eukhesthai, ‘to pray’ and ‘to make a vaunt’. I call attention to the second-person address evidenced by the vocative forms for the song’s laudandus, Hagesias (lines 77 and 80).

Lissesthai and Litaneuein ‘To Entreat’

Corresponding to the persuasive power of lita ‘entreaty’, the speech plan of lissesthai ‘to entreat’ is to make a request. Each of the following uses of lissesthai occur in the pattern described above: lissesthai ‘to entreat’ with a second-person imperative verb in the form of, “I entreat you, do X”:

Λίσσομαι, παῖ Ζηνὸς Ἐλευθερίου,
Ἱμέραν εὐρυσθενέ᾽ ἀμφιπόλει, σώτειρα Τύχα.

Olympian 12.1–2

I entreat you [lissomai], son of Kronos, nod in agreement,
so that the Phoenician and the battle cry of the Etruscans may stay peacefully at home, after seeing the hubris of theirs that brought shipwreck before Cumae—
such things they suffered when subdued by the dominance of the Syracusans.

Ὦ πότνια Μοῖσα, μᾶτερ ἁμετέρα, λίσσομαι,
τὰν πολυξέναν ἐν ἱερομηνίᾳ Νεμεάδι
ἵκεο Δωρίδα νᾶσον Αἴγιναν· ὕδατι γάρ
μένοντ᾽ ἐπ᾽ Ἀσωπίῳ μελιγαρύων τέκτονες
κώμων νεανίαι, σέθεν ὄπα μαιόμενοι.

Nemean 3.1–5

Royal Muse, our mother, I entreat you [lissomai],
come in the Nemean sacred month to the much visited
Dorian island of Aigina; for at the waters
of Asopos, constructors of sweetly voiced
victory revels, young men, are waiting, seeking your voice.

The patterned use of lissesthai ‘to entreat’ with a second-person imperative verb in the form of “I entreat you, do X” necessarily means that each of these examples involves second-person address. Further, two of the passages quoted above, Olympian 12.1–2 and Pythian 1.71–73, commemorate the polis of each song’s laudandus in the form of a prayer. Nemean 3.1–5 is another case where Pindar represents epinician performance in the context of a prayer. Thus, in all of the occurrences of lissesthai presented above, some aspect of epinician praise is couched in the form of prayer.

For a final example of lissesthai ‘to entreat’, Pindar depicts the Argonauts making a request to Poseidon for safe travel through the Symplegades:

ἐς δὲ κίνδυνον βαθὺν ἱέμενοι δεσπόταν λίσσοντο ναῶν,
συνδρόμων κινηθμὸν ἀμαιμάκετον
ἐκφυγεῖν πετρᾶν.

Pythian 4.207–209

Heading into great risk they entreated [lissonto] the lord of ships
to escape the unyielding movement
of the colliding rocks.

This use of the verb is in reported speech and of the type “I entreat you, do X,” but the indirect statement requires an infinitive instead of an imperative verb. Functionally analogous to the use of lissesthai at Pythian 4.207–209, Pindar uses litaneuein ‘to entreat’ to report an entreaty in a third-person voice:

ψεύσταν δὲ ποιητὸν συνέπαξε λόγον,
ὡς ἦρα νυμφείας ἐπείρα κεῖνος ἐν λέκτροις Ἀκάστου 30
εὐνᾶς· τὸ δ᾽ ἐναντίον ἔσκεν· πολλὰ γάρ νιν παντὶ θυμῷ
παρφαμένα λιτάνευεν. τοῖο δ᾽ ὀργὰν κνίζον αἰπεινοὶ λόγοι.

Nemean 5.29–32

She contrived a false, made-up story,
that he [Peleus] tried for her bridal “favors” in Akastos’ bed.
But the opposite happened. Repeatedly and with all her heart
she spoke deceptively and begged him [litaneuen]. Her headlong words incited his anger.

ἔβλαστεν δ᾽ υἱὸς Οἰνώνας βασιλεύς
χειρὶ καὶ βουλαῖς ἄριστος. πολλά νιν πολλοὶ λιτάνευον ἰδεῖν.

Nemean 8.7–8

A son [Aiakos] was born to be king of Oinona
best in strength and strategies. Many often begged [litaneuon] to see him.

Apuein ‘To Invoke’

Next I present examples of Pindar’s use of apuein ‘to invoke’:

 ἐγγὺς {δ᾽} ἐλθὼν πολιᾶς ἁλὸς οἶος ἐν ὄρφνᾳ
ἄπυεν βαρύκτυπον
Εὐτρίαιναν· ὁ δ᾽ αὐτῷ
πὰρ ποδὶ σχεδὸν φάνη.

Olympian 1.71–74

 After going near the gray sea alone in darkness,
he called upon [apuen] the heavy-pounding god
with the good trident.
Near at his feet the god appeared.

          Σωτὴρ ὑψινεφὲς Ζεῦ, Κρόνιόν τε ναίων λόφον
          τιμῶν τ᾽ Ἀλφεὸν εὐρὺ ῥέοντα Ἰδαῖόν τε σεμνὸν ἄντρον,
          ἱκέτας σέθεν ἔρχομαι Λυδίοις ἀπύων ἐν αὐλοῖς,
20      αἰτήσων πόλιν εὐανορίαισι τάνδε κλυταῖς
          δαιδάλλειν, σέ τ᾽, Ὀλυμπιόνικε, Ποσειδονίοισιν ἵπποις
          ἐπιτερπόμενον φέρειν γῆρας εὔθυμον ἐς τελευτάν
          υἱῶν, Ψαῦμι, παρισταμένων.

Olympian 5.17–23

Savior Zeus, high in the clouds, dwelling on Kronos’ hill,
honoring the widely flowing Alpheos and the holy cave on Mount Ida,
as your suppliant I come, invoking you [apuôn] with Lydian pipes,
to ask that you adorn this city with renowned nobility among its men—
and to ask you, Olympian victor who delights in Poseidon’s horses,
to bear the gladdening prize to the finish
with your sons, Psaumis, standing around you.

          σὲ δ᾽, ὦ Δεινομένειε παῖ, Ζεφυρία πρὸ δόμων
          Λοκρὶς παρθένος ἀπύει, πολεμίων καμάτων ἐξ ἀμαχάνων
20      διὰ τεὰν δύναμιν δρακεῖσ᾽ ἀσφαλές. 

Pythian 2.18–20

You, son of Deinomenes, Zephurian Lokris, the maiden,
calls on [apuei] before her home, now that from the unconquerable troubles of war
she has seen security through your power.

These examples of apuein ‘to invoke’ suggest that the verb names the essence of what it means to make a Pindaric prayer; apuein can be validly glossed as ‘to make a second-person address’. Olympian 1.71–74 frames Pelops’ prayer to Poseidon, a passage of direct discourse characterized by the hero’s second-person address to the god. As I will illustrate in Chapter Five, Pelops is a model of appropriate speech in Olympian 1. In light of this, it is interesting to juxtapose Pindar’s use of apuein at Olympian 1.72, which describes Pelops’ performance of a prayer, with Pindar’s use of the verb at Olympian 5.19, where he represents the performance of Olympian 5 in terms of prayer. This juxtaposition illustrates how apuein, like uses of other forms of metalanguage for prayer, can be used to describe epinician performance itself. [
30] With this in mind, note that Olympian 5.17–23, includes vocative addresses to Zeus (line 17) and to the song’s laudandus, Psaumis (lines 21 and 23), an instance of prayer that suggests the neutralization of the functional difference between eukha ‘prayer’ and eukhos ‘vaunt’, the main subcategories of eukhesthai ‘to pray’ or ‘to vaunt’. At Pythian 2.18–20 Pindar represents the laudandus’s polis invoking the athlete at the same time as the composer himself addresses the laudandus, as indicated by second-person forms (lines 18 and 20) and vocative forms (line 18).

Epeukhesthai ‘To Utter a Prayer’


To summarize this analysis of the functions indicated by the speech plan of Pindar’s metalanguage for epinician prayers, I will begin by reiterating my initial observation, that eukha ‘prayer’ and eukhos ‘vaunt’ are subcategories of eukhesthai ‘to pray’ or ‘to vaunt’, with epeukhesthai ‘to utter a prayer’ a subcate-gory of eukha ‘prayer’. In the course of the foregoing analysis, it became clear that the functional load of eukha ‘prayer’ can include that borne by lissesthai ‘to entreat’, litaneuein ‘to entreat’, lita ‘entreaty’, and litos ‘supplicatory’. On the basis of the functional, contextual, and grammatical parallels to other occurrences of metalanguage of prayer, it is appropriate to describe eukhos ‘vaunt’ as a form of metalanguage for epinician prayers. This is recommended by uses of eukhesthai in the sense of ‘to vaunt’ (Olympian 7.20–24 and Pythian 4.96–100) and by the strong tendency among the examples of epinician prayers that I have presented for Pindar to describe the performance of his praise poetry in terms of prayer. As a final point of summary, the function of epeukhesthai ‘to utter a prayer’ is parallel to that of apuein ‘to invoke’. I am now prepared to summarize this analysis in the form of a diagram representing the relationships among forms of metalanguage for Pindar’s prayers:

wells chap4 diagram

Diagram 1: Epinician Prayers

Now that I have explored the speech plan of the simple speech genre eukhesthai, before turning to the description of its ethnographic features, I pause to make a point of methodological qualification. My present interest is to discover the convergent features of the speech genre eukhesthai, the ethnographic rules of co-occurrence, which I describe below. As my analysis of the speech plan for eukhesthai suggests, the speech acts identified by Pindar’s metalanguage for prayer also exhibit patterns of alternation. [42] The rules of co-occurrence indicate the existence of a stylistic pattern for precatory speech acts in the broader sense of acts of speaking that constitute speech events. The rules of alternation in Pindar’s use of the precatory speech genre indicate the existence of speech acts in the Austinian sense of performative speech acts (1975). As we have already seen, one pattern of alternation that I identify in Pindar’s prayers is that, given an opposition between speech acts identified in epinician usage by eukha ‘prayer’ and those identified by eukhos ‘vaunt’, eukhos-acts are marked and eukha-acts are unmarked. While we can also observe that markedness relationships obtain among the speech acts within the domain of eukhai (identified in Pindar’s usage by lissesthai ‘to entreat’, lita ‘entreaty’, litaneuein ‘to entreat’, litos ‘supplicatory’, apuein ‘to invoke’, and epeukhesthai ‘to utter a prayer’), the marked quality of eukhos in opposition to eukha is especially noteworthy in the context of praise poetry. As a strategy of praise poetics, an authoritatively and effectively performed eukha is finally a performative speech act that I would identify as eukhos, a vaunt. In such a speech act, any opposition between eukhos and a form of eukha is neutralized, and the performative force of eukhos becomes dominantly constitutive of the speech act. To illustrate this I will briefly describe how a genre of poetry, the Instruction of Princes, which Richard Martin has explored, evidences eukhesthai style.

In her study of Pythian 6 Kurke tells us that “[t]he genre of hypothêkai would be characterized by a proem, an address to a specific addressee, sometimes by mythological material, but mainly by a collection of injunctions and traditional wisdom loosely strung together with gnomic material” (1990:60). [44] As with the Irish parallel cited by Martin, in Kurke’s description of hupothêkai the stylistic features of Pindar’s speech genre eukhesthai come to bear: “address to a specific addressee” is second-person address, which is characteristic of injunctions. Among her evidence to demonstrate that ancient Greeks recognized the Kheirônos Hupothêkai as a “distinctive type of poetry,” Kurke gives sources that treat parainesis ‘advice’ as a synonym for Kheirônos Hupothêkai, including Pindar’s only uses of the verb parainein ‘to advise’ (Pythian 6.23 and Isthmian 6.68) where the word “signals to its audience the introduction of ὑπόθηκαι [hupothêkai] into Pindar’s poem” (1990:91):

20      σύ τοι σχεθών νιν ἐπὶ δεξιὰ χειρός, ὀρθὰν ἄγεις ἐφημοσύναν, 
          τά ποτ᾽ ἐν οὔρεσι φαντὶ μεγαλοσθενεῖ
          Φιλύρας υἱὸν ὀρφανιζομένῳ
          Πηλεΐδᾳ παραινεῖν· μάλιστα μὲν Κρονίδαν,
          βαρύοπαν στεροπᾶν κεραυνῶν τε πρύτανιν,
25/26 θεῶν σέβεσθαι. ταύτας δὲ μή ποτε τιμᾶς
          ἀμείρειν γονέων βίον πεπρωμένον.

Pythian 6.19–27

Kurke’s treatment of parainesis as synonymous to the genre of hupothêkai , in that both entail instruction or admonition in the stylistic form of the speech genre eukhesthai , accords well with Martin’s study of the Instruction of Princes, where he explains that “the use of vocatives…is a traditional element in Greek poetic parainesis from Homer on” (1984:31) and elsewhere describes parainesis “as a key genre, one that frames the discourse of didactic, elegiac, and even dramatic poetry in Greece” (2000:53). Kurke (1990:97) offers an illuminating example of the “parainetic mode,” Athena’s address to Telemakhos: “I will thoroughly instruct [hupothêsomai] you, if only you would obey” (σοὶ δ᾽ αὐτῷ πυκινῶς ὑποθήσομαι, αἴ κε πίθηαι, Odyssey i 279). Here we see stylistic features of the speech genre eukhesthai: second-person address and a first-person future verb expressing intention. I would add here that in his study of Hesiod’s metanastic poetics, Martin (1992:16) specifically links prayer style with the poetics of wisdom as represented by Hesiod’s Works and Days and Phoinix’s speech to Achilles (Iliad IX 434–603).

As both Kurke and Martin explain, hupothêkai include gnomic and mythological material, in addition to forms of speech that I associate with the speech genre eukhesthai. Here I characterize why I stress the importance of prayer-vaunt language in hupothêkai. First, no other simple speech genre in Pindar’s epinikia exhibits as many patterns of alternation as eukhesthai. Second, one conclusion that I have drawn from my detailed analysis of Pindar’s prayers is that all addressees of eukhesthai are in some sense authoritative. In terms of the ethnographic features that I have been using to describe the ways of epinician speaking, addressees of eukhesthai such as gods, heroes, and personified figures (e.g. Euphrosuna at Olympian 14.14) may be the conventional speech objects of mythological narrative. As I will next argue, this correlation is salient in the context of a traditional society in which reperformance, often reperformance of traditional narrative and authoritative speech, or muthos, specifically, is a highly valued cultural practice.

The figures whom Pindar’s songs commemorate are never the speech objects of mythological narrative, but they are often the addressees of eukhesthai. According to the ethnographic rules of the epinician way of speaking that I have been describing, if one criterion for the authoritative status of an addressee of eukhesthai is that the addressee may be a speech object of mythological narrative, but a laudandus is never a speech object of mythological narrative, then is there another way for us to discover how a laudandus comes to be an authoritative addressee? The simple fact that many of the laudandi of Pindar’s epinikia are outstanding members of their communities and possess aristocratic status may establish them as authoritative addressees. The simple fact that communities confer prestige in the form of kudos ‘talismanic power’ (Kurke 1993) on their victorious athletes may also establish Pindar’s laudandi as authoritative addressees. But such explanations are unsatisfactory —not to say incorrect—because, first, they involve an outside-in approach to context and, second, they do not account for traditional dynamics entailed in the composition and performance of epinician art. In other words, I would like to get at how, in terms of communicative practices, specifically, to identify the authoritative status of an addressee of eukhesthai who may not be the speech object of mythological narrative.

If we follow a well-trodden path in the study of Archaic Greek verbal art and take muthos as authoritative speech, then I would suggest that the function of an original epinician performance is to establish the status of a song’s laudandus as an appropriate speech object of muthos. The epinician composer performs this function by establishing his song as a model for reperformance, a topic that I address more fully in Chapter 5. To secure a positive evaluation from an audience to an original performance is to introduce Pindar’s composition into the word-hoard of tradition and to make it available for reperformance. In order to secure such a positive evaluation, again, the epinician composer must display his competence in his artistic medium. One crucial form that such a display must take is a socially appropriate and effective use of what a community regards as authoritative speech, or muthos. Now I suggest that instruction poetry such as hupothêkai or parainesis is such a form of authoritative speech. When this genre of poetry is addressed to the epinician laudandus, the implication, if Pindar’s use of it is to be authoritative, is that the addressee must also be authoritative. In such instances of address, the illocutionary act of eukha ‘prayer’ becomes a performative speech act we can call eukhos ‘vaunt’, whose utterance in the context of epinician performance by implication makes the laudandus an authoritative addressee. Again, what gets done in such a performative speech act is that the opposition between eukha and eukhos is neutralized, rendering the prayer a form of praise. As Kurke writes of the last two lines of Pythian 6, instruction poetry becomes “transformed by the poet’s artifice from admonition to the crowning epinician compliment” (1990:102). [47] In the mode of traditionality evidenced in Archaic and Classical Greece, reperformance is mutually beneficial to poet and laudandus in that the word that endures through reperformance conveys the memory and prestige of both artist and athlete to future audiences. As Martin explains in connection with the Irish example of Instruction of Princes, “[t]he Irish king is certified by the poet; reciprocally, the poet is maintained by the king and tribe” (1984:35).

I have taken time to describe dynamics involved in the patterns of alternation in Pindar’s prayer-vaunt language only with respect to its connection to instruction poetry. I detect other dynamics that are worth exploring in future research. Yet, given that in a number of Pindar’s epinikia (Pythian 3, 4, 6, 9, and Nemean 3) there are mythological passages that depict Kheiron, the instructor of princes par excellence, the relationship between eukhesthai and Pindar’s use of instruction poetry seems to be an especially important application of this speech genre (cf. Kurke 1990:93–94).

Ethnographic Features of Epinician Eukhesthai

To resume my description of the rules of co-occurrence evidenced in Pindar’s prayers, in the foregoing discussion I have anticipated that the most dominantly constitutive feature of the precatory speech genre is second-person addressivity. It is important to further validate this claim in light of the fact that some of the examples of prayer given above do not provide deictic evidence of a second-person addressee. For convenience, I recall here two examples of precatory utterances treated above that do not have an explicit addressee:

θεὸς εὔφρων
εἴη λoιπαῖς εὐχαῖς.

Olympian 4.12–13

May a god be favorable
to future prayers [eukhai].

Χαρίτων κελαδεννᾶν
μή με λίποι καθαρὸν φέγγος.

Pythian 9.89–90

May the resounding Kharites’
clean light not leave me!

It may be adequate to make the intuitive observations that at Olympian 4.12–13 the unnamed god of line 12 is likely to be the addressee of the eukhesthai and that at Pythian 9.89–90 the Kharites are likely to be the addressees of that utterance. However, I appeal to the concept of the conative function of language, one of the fundamental components of a speech event in Jakobson’s model of communication (summarized in the Introduction), to provide a more methodologically grounded basis for identifying the second-person addressivity in the cases of eukhesthai that do not have an explicit second-person reference.

Jakobson explains the conative function as follows: “Orientation toward the ADDRESSEE, the CONATIVE function, finds its purest grammatical expression in the vocative and imperative, which syntactically, morphologically, and often phonemically deviate from other nominal and verbal categories” (1960:355). Jakobson’s definition of the conative function of language correlates to epinician prayer types that entail the use of imperative and vocative grammatical forms without further comment. But how do we identify orientation toward the addressee in the case of utterances like those at Olympian 4.12–13 and Pythian 9.89–90?

In the context of epinician performance the always occurring, dominantly constitutive frame of interaction is that between composer and audience. I assume that the traditional artist Pindar would have been mainly (i.e. in consideration of the chorus) subject to evaluation for his epinician compositions. To draw from the example of a supplicatory eukhesthai , as in the form lissesthai ‘to entreat’ + second-person imperative, the ethnographic shape of the utterance establishes a framework of interaction; when the composer or the chorus makes a second-person address to Zeus or the Muses, that interaction is played out before the audience, which participates as an overhearer to that speech act. In the case of an exhortative eukhesthai, I suggest that the boundaries of emerging frameworks dissolve in such a way that the utterance reaches out, as it were, to embrace the audience; the audience members participate in the speech act as intended listeners and become players in the performance. [50] Such a view is supported by the following explanation of the discursive relationship between the first and second person by Emile Benveniste (1971:225, emphasis in original):

Language is possible only because each speaker sets himself up as a subject by referring to himself as I in his discourse. Because of this, I posits another person, the one who, being, as he is, completely exterior to ‘me,’ becomes my echo to whom I say you and who says you to me. This polarity of persons is the fundamental condition in language, of which the process of communication, in which we share, is only a mere pragmatic consequence. It is a polarity, moreover, very peculiar in itself, as it offers a type of opposition whose equivalent is encountered nowhere else outside of language. This polarity does not mean either equality or symmetry: ‘ego’ always has a position of transcendence with regard to you. Nevertheless, neither of the terms can be conceived of without the other.

Following from Benveniste’s observations, we can say that an exhortative prayer uttered by a first-person speaker implies a second-person addressee and, further, we can identify that addressee as the audience, the default and constitutive addressee in the composer-audience frame of interaction.

There is another way to formulate this line of thinking. The features constitutive of speech genres include frameworks of participation, principally the features of speech subject and addressee. On the one hand, we can say that the communication flow from one speech genre to the next during the course of an epinician performance entails the generation of multiple frameworks of interaction, each organizing and then yielding to the next framework of interaction that emerges in the unfolding event of epinician performance. On the other hand, given that the dominantly organizing frame of interaction in epinician performance is that between composer and audience, as a postmodern trope, we can see frameworks emerging in the flow of communication as destructive of the dominant frame of interaction between composer and audience. To illustrate, in the case of a supplicatory eukhesthai, as in the example of the form lissesthai ‘to entreat’ + second-person imperative, the ethnographic shape of the utterance can be said to intrude upon the composer-audience relationship by introducing another framework of interaction constituted by the speech subject and addressee of the supplication; when the composer or the chorus makes a second-person address to Zeus or the Muses, the audience, in a sense, gives over the floor to another participant matrix. By comparison, an exhortative eukhesthai reasserts the constitutively dominant composer-audience interaction; the audience members resume the floor. On the basis of the pragmatics of participant frameworks as described in the citation from Benveniste above, then, we can identify the second-person addressivity in an exhortative type of eukhesthai in the very subordination of the second person to the first.

As a final illustration of how we can identify the second-person addressivity of Pindar’s eukhesthai through the conative function of language, I offer an example of a prayer couched in the syntactic form of an optative of wish, but containing an explicit second-person reference:

εἴη σέ τε τοῦτον ὑψοῦ χρόνον πατεῖν,
ἐμέ τε τοσσάδε νικαφόροις
ὁμιλεῖν πρόφαντον σοφίᾳ καθ᾽ Ἕλλανας ἐόντα παντᾷ.

Olympian 1.115–116

May it be that you walk aloft for this time
and that I commune just as long with victorious men
and be distinguished for wisdom among Greeks everywhere.

Two functions are embedded in this passage: first, the function of expressing a wish, as indicated by the utterance’s syntax (the optative of wish construction), a form of eukha ‘prayer’; second, the function of eukhos ‘vaunt’. This latter part of the utterance’s speech plan is suggested by the preceding discussion of the conative function of language in connection with forms of eukhesthai that are not constituted by imperative or vocative forms. We have observed the distinction between supplicatory and exhortative types of prayers and that, in exhortative prayers, the audience is drawn into the participant framework of the utterance. I would suggest, further, that in the context of the performance of praise poetry, a vaunt, in Pindar’s language eukhos, is appropriate to the exhortative type of prayer: by calling attention to the praiseworthiness of the object of praise through eukhos, the performer exhorts the audience to share in his evaluation of the laudandus. To stress, these dynamics are identifiable empirically through the description of the pragmatics of speech and performance. In light of these observations, we can interpret Olympian 1.115–116 as a distillation of the speech plan constitutive of eukhesthai, in that this brief utterance contains the full spectrum of functional capacity of the speech genre, both eukhos ‘vaunt’ (for which the audience is the primary addressee) and eukha ‘prayer’ (for which Hieron is the primary addressee). To point up the relevance of such observations for the philology of Pindar, I would add that here we are able to grasp something of Pindar’s verbal art in action; with the methodological and interpretative focus upon practice, no claims of boldness, no intimations of rhetorical flourish, no conjectural history about Pindar’s relationship with Hieron are necessary to understand that, at Olympian 1.115–116, Pindar displays an incredible fluency in his art form and invites his audience, both ancient and modern, to participate in his song as co-creator of the composition.

I am now prepared to summarize the ethnographic features constitutive of epinician eukhesthai as follows:

  • Speech Subject: first person;
  • Addressee: second person, explicit or implied by conative function of language;
  • Speech Object: something boasted, requested, pledged, wished for, or a figure invoked;
  • Speech Plan: to make a vaunt, to make a request or entreaty, to make a vow, to express a wish or intention, and to invoke;
  • Spatial Dimension: immediate;
  • Temporal Dimension: immediate.

The chronotope characteristic of eukhesthai is immediate relative to the speech event of performance, but has another quality that distinguishes it from the chronotope of the lyric simple speech genre: because prayers express wishes, requests, advice, and hopes, they possess an orientation toward action subsequent to the moment of speaking. To apply a rubric, we can say that eukhesthai has the chronotope “now-address to you about subsequent action.”

The following example of eukhesthai involves the use of imperatives, a case in which the conative function of language is explicit:

          εἰ δ᾽ ἄεθλα γαρύεν
          ἔλδεαι, φίλον ἦτορ,
5        μηκέτ᾽ ἀελίου σκόπει
          ἄλλο θαλπνότερον ἐν ἁμέρᾳ φαεννὸν ἄστρον ἐρήμας δι᾽ αἰθέρος,
          μηδ᾽ Ὀλυμπίας ἀγῶνα φέρτερον αὐδάσομεν.

Olympian 1.3–7

But if you wish to sing of victory prizes,
my heart,
no longer look
to another star in the empty ether, shining by day, warmer than the sun,
and we will not sing of a competition tougher than Olympia.

The ethnographic features occurring in this passage are:

At Olympian 1.3–7 the second-person address is metonymy for self-reference and indicates that this passage is a hybrid utterance, constituted simultaneously by features of lyric and precatory speech genres. I defer the discussion of hybridization to the next chapter. For the present purposes of description, the second-person addressivity of Olympian 1.3–7 constitutes the passage as dominantly a form of eukhesthai.

The following example is a prayer of a type similar to Olympian 1.3–7, a prayer-lyric hybrid with second-person imperative verbs, and therefore dominantly of the eukhesthai speech genre:

ἀλλὰ Δωρίαν ἀπὸ φόρμιγγα πασσάλου
λάμβαν᾽, εἴ τί τοι Πίσας τε καὶ Φερενίκου χάρις
νόον ὑπὸ γλυκυτάταις ἔθηκε φροντίσιν.

Olympian 1.17–19

But take the Dorian lyre from its peg,
if at all the grace of Pisa and Pherenikos
put your mind under the influence of the sweetest thoughts.

The ethnographic features occurring in this passage are:

  • Speech Subject: composer in a first-person voice; the second-person imperative verb λάμβαν᾽ (line 18) and the second-person pronoun τοι (line 18) pragmatically imply a first-person speaker;
  • Addressee: second-person singular indicated by the imperative verb λάμβαν᾽ (line 18) and the second-person pronoun τοι (line 18); this second-person addressee is φίλον ἦτορ (line 4), metonymy for speaker’s self-address;
  • Speech Object: entreaty to perform the song as response to the kharis (line 18) of Hieron’s victory in the single horse race at Olympia;
  • Speech Plan: to entreat the addressee to perform the song as a response to kharis (line 18) of Hieron’s victory in the single horse race at Olympia;
  • Spatial Dimension: immediate;
  • Temporal Dimension: immediate.

To offer an example of another type of eukhesthai that involves the use of a first-person future verb, the following passage is addressed to Pelops:

          υἱὲ Ταντάλου, σὲ δ᾽ ἀντία προτέρων φθέγξομαι,
          ὁπότ᾽ ἐκάλεσε πατὴρ τὸν εὐνομώτατον
          ἐς ἔρανον φίλαν τε Σίπυλον,
          ἀμοιβαῖα θεοῖσι δεῖπνα παρέχων,
40      τότ᾽ Ἀγλαοτρίαιναν ἁρπάσαι, 
          δαμέντα φρένας ἱμέρῳ, χρυσέαισί τ᾽ ἀν᾽ ἵπποις
          ὕπατον εὐρυτίμου ποτὶ δῶμα Διὸς μεταβᾶσαι·
          ἔνθα δευτέρῳ χρόνῳ
          ἦλθε καὶ Γανυμήδης
45      Ζηνὶ τωὔτ᾽ ἐπὶ χρέος.
          ὡς δ᾽ ἄφαντος ἔπελες, οὐδὲ ματρὶ πολλὰ μαιόμενοι φῶτες ἄγαγον,
          ἔννεπε κρυφᾷ τις αὐτίκα φθονερῶν γειτόνων,
          ὕδατος ὅτι τε πυρὶ ζέοισαν εἰς ἀκμάν
          μαχαίρᾳ τάμον κατὰ μέλη,
50      τραπέζαισί τ᾽ ἀμφὶ δεύτατα κρεῶν 
          σέθεν διεδάσαντο καὶ φάγον.

Olympian 1.36–51

Son of Tantalos, in opposition to those of former days I will declare that,
when your father invited the gods to a very well arranged
meal, to his Sipulos,
and offered feasts requiting their hospitality,
then the god with the splendid trident ravished you
because he was beside himself with desire; and that with golden horses
he translated you to the highest home of widely honored Zeus.
At a later time
Ganymede also went there,
to Zeus, for the same obligation.
But when you were nowhere to be seen and people who looked everywhere for you did not lead you to your mother,
a jealous neighbor immediately claimed in secret
that into the peak of water boiling over fire
they cut through your limbs with a sword,
and that around the tables they divided the last bits
of your flesh and ate.

While this prayer is more accurately a stylistic hybrid of eukhesthai and mythological narrative, it is dominantly in the style of eukhesthai, as indicated by the second-person forms that refer to the addressee, Pelops. The ethnographic features occurring at Olympian 1.36–51, are:

  • Speech Subject: composer in a first-person voice, indicated by φθέγξομαι (line 36);
  • Addressee: Pelops, indicated by vocative υἱὲ Ταντάλου (line 36), second-person pronouns σέ (line 36) and σέθεν (51), and the second-person singular imperfect verb ἔπελες (line 46);
  • Speech Object: intention not to tell the traditional story that Pelops got his ivory shoulder as a consequence of his father Tantalos’ sacrilegious deception of the gods;
  • Speech Plan: to express the intention not to tell the story that Pelops got his ivory shoulder as a consequence of his father Tantalos’ sacrilegious deception of the gods, indicated by the future singular verb φθέγξομαι (line 36);
  • Spatial Dimension: immediate (grammatical evidence for second-person address indicates that Pindar pragmatically treats Pelops as a participant in the current speech event);
  • Temporal Dimension: immediate (grammatical evidence for second-person address indicates that Pindar pragmatically treats Pelops as a participant in the current speech event).

The following example of eukhesthai involves direct address to Hieron: [52]

          θεὸς ἐπίτροπος ἐὼν τεαῖσι μήδεται
          ἔχων τοῦτο κᾶδος, Ἱέρων,
          μερίμναισιν· εἰ δὲ μὴ ταχὺ λίποι,
          ἔτι γλυκυτέραν κεν ἔλπομαι
110    σὺν ἅρματι θοῷ κλεΐξειν ἐπίκουρον εὑρὼν ὁδὸν λόγων
          παρ᾽ εὐδείελον ἐλθὼν Κρόνιον.

Olympian 1.106–111

A guardian god thinks of your concerns,
taking this on for his responsibility, Hieron.
Unless he should leave soon,
I hope a still sweeter victory
with the swift chariot to celebrate, after finding an assisting path of words
and going by the far-seen mound of Kronos.

The ethnographic features occurring in this passage are:

  • Speech Subject: composer in first-person singular voice. Forms of second-person address imply pragmatically a first-person speaker: the second-person singular possessive adjective τεαῖσι (line 106) and the vocative Ἱέρων (line 107); the first-person singular verb ἔλπομαι (line 109) explicitly indicates a first-person singular speaker;
  • Addressee: Hieron, indicated by the second-person singular possessive adjective τεαῖσι (line 106) and the vocative Ἱέρων (line 107);
  • Speech Object: (1) vaunt that a god attends Hieron and his successes; (2) the intention to commemorate Hieron’s further successes;
  • Speech Plan: to vaunt and to express an intention;
  • Spatial Dimension: immediate, indicated by second-person address to participant in current speech event;
  • Temporal Dimension: immediate, indicated by second-person address to participant in current speech event.

To conclude my treatment of the simple speech genre eukhesthai, my analysis here has been more detailed than my description of other simple speech genres of epinikion. This was motivated by the need to demonstrate how the speech genre of eukhesthai can appropriately be said to constitute a broad range of speech functions expressed in a multiplicity of syntactic constructions. By looking at patterns of alternation in order to define the domain of analysis for epinician prayers, it then became possible to discover patterns of co-occurrence among the features of eukhesthai style. Along the way this analysis has addressed the problem of Pindar’s first-person futures and explored the relationship between Pindar’s eukhesthai style and traditional hupothêkai or parainesis.

In Chapters 3 and 4 I have described the five ways of epinician speaking that constitute the epinician way of speaking. Table 1 summarizes this description:

  Lyric Myth Angelia Eukhesthai Gnôma
Speech Subject First Person,
Inclusive Relative to Speech Object
Third Person,
Exclusive Relative to Speech Object
Third Person,
Exclusive Relative to Speech Object
First Person,
Third Person,
Addressee Audience,
Inclusive Relative to Speech Object
Exclusive Relative to Speech Object
Second Person,
Speech Object (Theme) Reflexive
(e.g. Performance,
Actor(s) and Actions,
Exclusive Relative to Performance
Laudandus’s Family
Laudandus’s Polis
Appropriate Speech
and Action
Speech Plan Reflexive (e.g. To Perform, To Praise),
To Narrate Traditional Stories To Report Speech Object To Perform Vaunt,
Entreaty, Vow, Wish, or Invocation
To Express Conventions for Appropriate Speech and Action
Spatial Aspect Immediate Mythological Non-Immediate Immediate Indefinite,
Temporal Aspect Immediate Mythological Non-Immediate Immediate Indefinite, Inclusive

Table 1: The Ways of Epinician Speaking

The cumulative evidence of Pindar’s Verbal Art indicates that Pindar was an oral poet. Chapter 1 demonstrated that, on the basis of intersubjective objectivity, Pindar’s communicative medium is unambiguously spoken, not written. Chapter 2 explored how Pindar’s text-artifact records certain performance keys that set up the performance frame in such a way that each epinician song is a well-defined speech event. Then Chapters 3 and 4 provided a practical (rather than rigidly formal) taxonomy of the ways of epinician speaking that constitute the epinician way of speaking. The Appendix to Pindar’s Verbal Art documents just how patterned the ways of epinician speaking and their organization within an individual song are, suggesting that Pindar composes his songs, not by theme like the Homeric singer of tales (Lord 1960:68–98), but by speech genre. While scholars generally accept non-Homeric Archaic Greek poetry as performed and, by implication, oral, Pindar’s Verbal Art contributes to the project of describing the communicative means employed in such oral poetics. In the next chapter I will continue my study of epinician style by exploring the novelistic features of epinikion.


[ back ] 1. Bowra 1964:322 identifies “prayers or praise to the gods” as a traditional element of the victory ode. Similarly for Gerber 1982:115 the category “religious nature” explicitly informs his interpretation. Bundy 1962:76–83 and passim is an exception to the tendency and treats Pindar’s prayers as an epinician convention. Although Hamilton 1974:17 acknowledges that Pindar’s prayers may or may not be addressed to a deity, this is still a category of description relevant to his analysis; he identifies “two main kinds [of prayer] with two distinct types in the second category”: “Poetic Invocation,” which “usually takes the form of an elaborate and lengthy invocation of some particularly relevant but not panhellenic divine figure” and is characterized by the use of an imperative verb; “Future Prayer,” which “takes the form either of an invocation of a major panhellenic god…or of a simple prayer with the optative, with or without theos.” See also Hamilton 1974:115 and Gerber 1982:175, who cites Hamilton 1974:20 and 24n30. Mackie also makes the prayer-god equation: “I suggest that we should read the future-oriented wishes and prayers in conjunction with [the] other epinician convention of crediting the gods for the victory” (2003:102). Race 1990:85–117 describes opening hymns, distinguishing between “two basic forms of hymns, rhapsodic and cultic.” On Pindar’s prayers see also Greengard 1980:54–62 (on “invocational framing”), Hubbard 1985:141–142, Race 1986:29 and 1990:119–140, and Mackie 2003:77–106.

[ back ] 2. Bakhtin’s concept of speech plan closely correlates with Hymes’s “‘use’ functions,” which Hymes contrasts with “‘structural’ functions” (1989:439).

[ back ] 3. A fundamental motivation for the Ethnography of Speaking and Bakhtin’s translinguistics is the limited utility of grammar and structural linguistics for describing language as dynamic practice. As Martin has written, “[i]n literature, as in life, individual sentences do not matter” (2004:345). Cf. Bakhtin: “The sentence as a language unit is grammatical in nature. It has grammatical boundaries and grammatical completedness and unity. (Regarded in the whole of the utterance and from the standpoint of this whole, it acquires stylistic properties.) When the sentence figures as a whole utterance, it is as though it has been placed in a frame made of quite different material. When one forgets this in analyzing a sentence, one distorts the nature of the sentence (and simultaneously the nature of the utterance as well, by treating it grammatically). A great many linguists and linguistic schools (in the area of syntax) are held captive by this confusion, and what they study as a sentence is in essence a kind of hybrid of the sentence (unit of language) and the utterance (unit of speech communication). One does not exchange sentences any more than one exchanges words (in the strict linguistic sense) or phrases. One exchanges utterances that are constructed from language units: words, phrases, and sentences” (1986:74–75, emphasis in original). So too Hymes: “In Kenneth Burke’s terms, there has been a tendency to treat language and its use as matters of ‘motion’ (as if of the purely physical world), rather than as matters of ‘action’ (as matters of the human dramatistic world of symbolic agency and purpose)… With all the difficulties that notions of purpose and function entail, there seems no way for the structural study of language and communication to engage its subject in social life in any adequate, useful way, except by taking this particular bull by the horns” (1974:21). See Hymes 1989:433 on the hegemonic effects of “the genre of grammars.”

[ back ] 4. Olympian 1.72, 5.19; Pythian 2.19, 5.104, 10.4.

[ back ] 5. Isthmian 6.43.

[ back ] 6. Pythian 3.77; cf. Paean 7b.15.

[ back ] 7. Olympian 4.13; Pythian 9.89; Isthmian 6.44. Cf. εὐχωλά (eukhôla) ‘prayer’, which does not occur in the epinikia, at Fragment 122.2.

[ back ] 8. Olympian 3.2, 6.53, 7.23, 8.86, 14.5; Pythian 3.2, 4.97, 4.293, 5.124, 8.67, 9.100; Nemean 8.37, 9.54; Isthmian 6.14. Cf. Paean 6.64, 16.3; Partheneion 1.11; Dithyramb 1.15, 2.26; Fragment 39.

[ back ] 9. Olympian 10.63; Pythian 5.21; Nemean 6.59.

[ back ] 10. Olympian 12.1; Pythian 1.71, 4.207; Nemean 3.1; Isthmian 6.45. Cf. Paean 6.3.

[ back ] 11. Olympian 2.80, 8.8, and Pythian 4.217. Note that I follow Race 1997a:286–287 and take litas at Pythian 4.217 to be a form of lita ‘entreaty’, but Slater 1969b:305 identifies it as a form of the adjective litos ‘supplicatory’.

[ back ] 12. Nemean 5.32 and 8.8; cf. Paean 9.38.

[ back ] 13. Olympian 6.78; cf. Fragment 21.

[ back ] 14. I take agônion eukhos to be a reference to the performance of Olympian 10 itself.

[ back ] 15. I.e. the family of the laudandus, Diagoras.

[ back ] 16. Astudameia was Amuntor’s daughter, who married Tlapolemos, son of Herakles, son of Zeus.

[ back ] 17. Other occurrences of eukhesthai in the sense of ‘to pray’ with the function of making a request include: Olympian 8.86 (with optative of wish type prayer at lines 87–88); Pythian 3.2, 8.67, 9.100 (with second person address to the song’s laudandus); Nemean 8.37, 9.54 (with second person address to Zeus); and Isthmian 6.14.

[ back ] 18. See pp. 114–115.

[ back ] 19. Slater 1969b:213 and Gentili 1995:612 take eukha at Pythian 9.88 in the broad sense of ‘prayer’, but Race 1997a:351 translates it as ‘wish’.

[ back ] 20. The laudandus of Olympian 4.

[ back ] 21. Psaumis’ polis.

[ back ] 22. Wife of Telamon.

[ back ] 23. Telamon.

[ back ] 24. Thetis.

[ back ] 25. The laudandus of Olympian 6.

[ back ] 26. Near Stymphalos in Arkadia.

[ back ] 27. Father of Hagesias.

[ back ] 28. I.e. Fortune.

[ back ] 29. Sicilian polis of Ergoteles, the laudandus.

[ back ] 30. This possibility may motivate Currie’s claim that “[t]he verb ἀπύειν [apuein] is generally used of choral singing” (2004:67).

[ back ] 31. The exact reference is unclear, but it is thought to be Magna Mater or Rhea. Σ Pythian 3.78 (Drachmann 1910:81), and Pausanias 9.25.3 tell us that Pindar had a shrine to the Mother of the gods and to Pan near his home. See Gildersleeve 1890:275 and Race 1997a:252n2.

[ back ] 42. On sociolinguistic rules of co-occurrence and alternation, see Ervin-Tripp 1972 and Hymes 1989.

[ back ] 43. Boeke 2007:11–12 discusses the Kheirônos Hupothêkai as a literary antecedent to Pindar’s use of popular wisdom in the epinikia, but sees only a loose connection between the two, apparently disagreeing with the point in Kurke 1990, whom Boeke cites, about Pindar’s self-conscious alignment with traditional wisdom.

[ back ] 44. On proverbs as a performed genre of verbal art, see Martin 1993.

[ back ] 45. The father of Thrasyboulos (the second-person addressee), laudandus of Pythian 6.

[ back ] 46. Father of Phylakidas, the laudandus of Isthmian 6.

[ back ] 47. Kurke accordingly describes Pythian 6 as “an appropriation of hupothêkai for epinician pur-poses” (1990:98).

[ back ] 48. Jakobson explains a truth test as follows: “The imperative sentences cardinally differ from declarative sentences: the latter are and the former are not liable to a truth test. When in O’Neill’s play The Fountain, Nano, ‘(in a fierce tone of command),’ says ‘Drink!’—the imperative cannot be challenged by the question ‘is it true or not?’ which may be, however, perfectly well asked after such questions as ‘one drank,’ ‘one will drink,’ ‘one would drink.’ In contradistinction to the imperative sentences, the declarative sentences are convertible into interrogative sentences: ‘did one drink?’ ‘will one drink?’ ‘would one drink?’” (1960:355).

[ back ] 49. See also Waugh 1980:59.

[ back ] 50. What I am describing here is akin to Bergren’s approach to apostrophe in the Homeric hymns: “[t]he poet apostrophizes not simply to elicit the response of the addressee, but also to prove to his ‘judging’ audience the poetic power of his speech” (1982:85). Cf. Burnett 2005:240–241 on audience involvement in what she identifies as prayers and maxims in Pindar’s songs.

[ back ] 51. Gildersleeve 1890:130 interprets αὐδάσομεν ‘we will sing’ as a short-vowel subjunctive; so too Gerber 1982:24.

[ back ] 52. Mackie 2003:92–93 also treats this passage as an example of epinician prayers and wishes for the future.

[ back ] 53. Hubbard 1985:141–142 identifies this passage as a common type of prayer—the type that concludes an epinician song—and cites the endings of Olympian 6, 13, and Isthmian 7 as additional examples.