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.

5. Novelistic Features of Epinician Style

I have stressed throughout Pindar’s Verbal Art that performance is fundamentally constitutive of epinician composition and reception. When it comes to understanding how epinikion is a novelistic form of verbal art and why this is important to the study of epinikion as an artifact of social history, it is necessary to consider performance in light of reperformance. Just as the dialogical interaction between performer and audience is constitutive of the speech event of epinician performance, and just as the dialogical interaction between speech subject and addressee is dominantly constitutive of each simple speech genre that constitutes epinikion, dialogue between the contexts of original performance and reperformance is constitutive of the complex genre of epinikion. The medium, as it were, of this dialogue is mimesis. According to Nagy, the performance of ancient Greek poetry is a form of mimesis understood as the reenactment of a model (1996:4 and 39–58). [2] This conception of mimesis derives from Nagy’s study of the relationship between myth and ritual, [3] which the following citation illustrates (1996:56, emphasis in original):

If you re-enact an archetypal action in ritual, it only stands to reason that you have to imitate those who re-enacted before you and who served as your immediate models. But the ultimate model is still the archetypal action or figure that you are re-enacting in ritual, which is coextensive with the whole line of imitators who re-enact the way in which their ultimate model acted, each imitating each one’s predecessor.

Mimesis, then, entails reenactment through ritual of an archetypal action, which serves as the model to be reenacted, and myth is a reenactment of ritual in the form of poetic performance, where, following Nagy (1990:32–33), I take myth in the broad sense of special speech, such as the acts of speech used in the context of Archaic Greek performance of song and poetry. To illustrate the relationship of myth and ritual to performance by way of an example that is pertinent to choral song, concerning Alkman’s Partheneion, Nagy “propose[s] that archetypal figures, including the primary archetypal figures named Hagesikhora and Agido, are models being acted out by real chorus-members in performances held on a seasonally-recurring basis. Even their names designate models—either divine, like Hagesikhora, or royal, like Agido” (Nagy 1996:57, emphasis in original; cf. Stehle 1997:24). In this scenario the context for reperformance is relatively stable, with Alkman’s song, a form of myth in the sense of special speech, reperformed by a chorus and “on a seasonally-recurring basis.” Under the influence of Panhellenism, which surrounds the composition and performance of Pindar’s songs, however, there are multiple scenarios possible for the reperformance of epinikion, as described recently by Bruno Currie (2004): [
4] oral diffusion through informal reperformance (recitation from memory) by those who were present at the original production of an individual song; the transmission of texts, which would have been used in schools for memorization and oral recitation; recitation as informal entertainment during family meals; solo recitation in sympotic context; [5] more formal choral reperformance in a sympotic context; songs or stories derived from, but not exact reproductions of, Pindar’s original compositions; production of a song’s reperformance by the laudandus’s family; [6] “formal choral reperformances organized by the polis”; and “regular reperformance at the site of the games.” [7] Oral diffusion and recitation are two media of reperformance that entail one of Gentili’s conditions for oral poetry: “oral transmission (memorized poetic tradition)” (Gentili 1988:4). [8] Adding this to the argument in Chapter One that Pindar’s songs represent themselves as forms of “oral composition (extemporaneous improvisation)” and “oral communication (performance),” we see that epinikion satisfies all three of Gentili’s conditions for oral poetry.

The comparison of reperformance contexts for Alkman’s Partheneion and Pindar’s epinikia illustrates the weakening pervasiveness of the connection between myth and ritual. [9] The difference between a relatively stable context for the reperformance of Alkman’s Partheneion and the diversity of reperformance scenarios for Pindar reflects Nagy’s description of Panhellenic poetry as “those kinds of poetry and song that operated not simply on the basis of local traditions suited for local audiences [e.g. Alkman’s Partheneion]. Rather, Panhellenic poetry would have been the product of traditions, so that the tradition that it represents concentrates on traditions that tend to be common to most locales and peculiar to none” (1990:54). I suggest that the following passage reflects Pindar’s awareness of the multiple possibilities for the recontextualization of an original performance—and not only an awareness, but an expressed preference for a fluid translation of his compositions to a variety of reperformance contexts (cf. Ford 2002:120):

          μή νυν, ὅτι φθονεραὶ θνατῶν φρένας ἀμφικρέμανται ἐλπίδες,
          μήτ᾽ ἀρετάν ποτε σιγάτω πατρῴαν,
45      μηδὲ τούσδ᾽ ὕμνους· ἐπεί τοι
          οὐκ ἐλινύσοντας αὐτοὺς ἐργασάμαν.

Isthmian 2.43–46

Don’t now, because envious hopes are a wet blanket for mortals’ minds,
don’t ever let a family’s virtue go silent,
nor these humnoi, since
I did not craft them to be fixed in place.

Given that Pindar’s epinikia were reperformed and, thus, served as a model for reenactment, what accounts for the capacity of an individual epinician song to be available as such a model for reenactment in a wide variety of contexts of situation for reperformance? While Nagy’s Pindar’s Homer (1990) stands a magisterial response to this question, among others, I offer here my own observation that the stylistic diversity of epinikion accommodates itself to diverse contexts of reperformance. To stress, this dynamic is dialogical. It is not that epinikion is possessed of an inherent complexity that happens to be adaptable from one reperformance context to the next, but in a dialogical fashion an epinician composer anticipates the evaluative responses of potential target audiences to future reperformances in such a way that original performance is constituted by an awareness of multiple potential reperformance venues. [

These observations about Panhellenism and the relationship between original performance and reperformance form a backdrop for considering how the dynamics of Panhellenism create cultural and historical factors that are remarkably similar to the contextual surround that, according to Bakhtin, gives rise to the genre of the novel. I will focus on three socio-historical factors that he identifies as crucially contributing to development of the novel: polyglossia, knowledge (versus memory), and contemporaneity (1981:3–40).

Polyglossia involves the interaction of what Bakhtin refers to as “national languages”; while “[p]olyglossia had always existed,” it becomes constitutive of the novel when verbal art self-consciously exploits the creative potential that can arise from polyglossia (Bakhtin 1981:12). Whereas other genres appropriate and canonize polyglossia, absorbing it into a “pure language” (e.g. “tragedy is a polyglot genre” [Bakhtin 1981:12] encased in the language of Attic koinê), the novel comes to terms with polyglossia and reflects stylistically the linguistic diversity of its socio-historical moment. The process of Panhellenism gave rise to polyglossia, which the epinician way of speaking absorbed into the scope of the art form’s expressive capacity. Given the one-time connection between the main varieties of ancient Greek language—Doric, Aeolic, and Ionic—and particular geographic regions, it is appropriate to conceive of these varieties as “national languages” in the sense that these languages were used by members of discrete speech communities in a pre-Panhellenic context, as opposed to dialects or varieties in the context of a Panhellenic speech community. [11] Under the influence of Panhellenism, as discussed in Chapter Two, these varieties of ancient Greek entered “into international and interlingual contacts,” to apply one of Bakhtin’s characterizations of polyglossia (1981:11). [12] As we have seen, epinikion is a document of such contacts in the context of Archaic Greece by virtue of its synthesis of Doric, Aeolic, and Ionic in morphology and prosody (Nagy 1990:417). [13] Polyglossia, then, along with the fact that the epinician way of speaking is comprised of ways of epinician speaking, means that we can properly identify epinikion as “a multi-styled genre” (Bakhtin 1981:25).

However, an ethnography of epinician speaking locates epinician art in the present of performance, the here and now of oral composition and aural reception (Bakhtin’s practice and experience), and, further, accounts for how the dialogical relationship between original performance (the present) and reperformance (the future) is constitutive of epinikion. The mode of mimesis exemplified by Alkman’s Partheneion, with its reenactment of an archetypal model, contrasts markedly with epinikion, which variously selects the models that it claims to reenact. In Alkman’s song, the figures of Hagesikhora and Agido are models for the chorus in reperformance. In a similar way, Homer is a traditional model in the performance and reperformance of Homeric epos and cognate works traditionally attributed to the eponymous singer of tales. [15] Drawing from Nagy’s gloss for the meaning of Hesiod’s name as “one who emits the voice,” Richard Martin has recommended that we “see the poet as a generic figure who embodies the singing power of the Muses” (1992:15). [16] These examples illustrate the outcome of the process through which “the Panhellenic tradition of oral poetry appropriates the poet, potentially transforming even historical figures into generic ones who represent the traditional functions of their poetry” (Nagy 1990:79). By contrast, there is no ritually or traditionally sanctioned archetypal model generic to epinikion. [17] Pindar was, and remains, from the point of view of subsequent tradition, a historical figure, not an eponymous or legendary one.

Epinician performance is as much a matter of futurity as of tradition. Indeed, tradition is a kind of dialogue across the temporal continuum: the present of an epinician song’s original performance draws from the past to legitimate its claims on the present and anticipates future audiences through which reperformance sustains the (now) traditional status of a given song and its composer. This dynamic (dialogical) conception of tradition leads to the observation that, rather than reenacting a specific, generic, or archetypal performance model, Pindar sought to establish himself and his compositions as models for subsequent reperformance. [18] When Pindar deploys strategies of traditionalization, we are witnessing how he authenticates his compositions through a display of competence in traditional material in order to earn a positive evaluation from the audience to original performance and, thereby, to establish those compositions as models for reperformance. [19] Bauman describes traditionalization as “an act of authentication, akin to the art or antique dealer’s authentication of an object by tracing its provenience” (1992:137). [20] In my discussion of epinician eukhesthai, I touched upon one of Pindar’s strategies for traditionalization: his use of the advice tradition characterized by the Kheirônos Hupothêkai. For another example, the use of features of a special code conventionally associated with choral performance further aligns epinikion with a model for choral performance, such as the Delian Maidens, as depicted in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo (Nagy 1996:56). [21] Kurke has recently argued that in Pindar’s Paean 6 the opening triad serves to characterize the composer “as an outsider and to constitute his special status and authority vis-à-vis the Delphians. Thus, as ἀοίδιμος Πιερίδων προφάτας [“the Pierians’ singing prophet,” Paean 6.6], the speaking subject lays claim to mantic status derived from the Muses, separate from but analogous to that of Pytho herself in the opening invocation” (2005:104). [22] To explain the poetics of the composer’s outsider, special, and authoritative status, Kurke applies Martin’s term metanastês, which he defines as “one who has moved into a new community” (1992:14). In Archaic Greek verbal art “‘[m]etanastic’ poetics,” Martin explains, “is the voice of the immigrant; but it is also the technique of the mystic who returns, as a stranger in his own land, to tell about what he knows” (1992:14). As the composer of Paean 6 Pindar is not a member of the local Delphian community, but by virtue of participating in the traffic in praise, which entails the use of conventions of gift economy that are privileged from the point of view of aristocratic ideology, he is very much, in Martin’s words, an “exterior insider.” For Kurke, then, metanastic poetics in Paean 6 involves the composer’s self-representation as “a figure who can speak to the Delphian community from a platform of singular independent authority, but can also, as an ‘adopted son of Pytho,’ serve as a kind of intermediary or ‘proxenos’ for citizens of other communities visiting Delphi” (2005:106–107).

Whereas Bakhtin (1981:15–16) describes the epic past, and by implication the epinician past, as “walled off absolutely from all subsequent times, and above all from those times in which the singer and his listeners are located,” Pindar’s compositions entail a dynamic process of fluid interchange with the past of tradition, the present of original performance, and the future of subsequent reperformance. Again, when we consider the orientation of an original composition toward future reperformance of that work, the dialogical relationship between an original epinician performance and subsequent reperformance is as significantly constitutive of the composition of epinician song as the dialogical relationship between original performance and past tradition. Illustrating this fluid interchange through past, present, and future performance, Martin (2004:344) describes how Pindar’s Pythian 8

has managed to move through time, revealing itself to varied audiences, up to our own day, while pointing backwards to, and even imitating, an originating celebration. This dynamic, anaphoric movement reiterates the original communicative act of the ode, which centered on making vivid to a local community the place that its athletic hero’s victory occupied along a sunlit pathway stretching back to the heroic age.

The epinician composer’s display of competence through strategies of traditionalization bears upon the socio-historical factor of knowledge (versus memory) as a precondition for the emergence of novelistic discourse. Pindar’s works are prime examples of how alêtheia ‘truth’ becomes, according to Nagy, “the criterion of Panhellenism” (1990:63). To illustrate, Nagy cites the following passage of Olympian 1:

          ἦ θαυματὰ πολλά, καί πού τι καὶ βροτῶν
          φάτις ὑπὲρ τὸν ἀλαθῆ λόγον
          δεδαιδαλμένοι ψεύδεσι ποικίλοις ἐξαπατῶντι μῦθοι·
30      Χάρις δ᾽, ἅπερ ἅπαντα τεύχει τὰ μείλιχα θνατοῖς,
          ἐπιφέροισα τιμὰν καὶ ἄπιστον ἐμήσατο πιστόν
          ἔμμεναι τὸ πολλάκις.

Olympian 1.28–32

Truly wondrous are many things, and, as it seems, mortals’
speech in excess of a true account,
stories crafted with ornate lies, are utterly deceptive.
But grace, which provides all mild things for mortals,
bringing honor, it makes the unbelievable believable,

Nagy’s analysis (1990:66) of this passage illustrates how alêtheia ‘truth’ becomes a Panhellenic criterion:

I suggest that, in this context of describing Pindar’s art as a novelistic form of discourse, alêtheia functions in epinikion as the criterion for selection from among the traditional possibilities for conventional speech acts, song and poetry styles, stories, genre, and media of composition (e.g. ainos or humnos or hupothêkai). [
24] It is important to stress that a process of selection is actually endemic to tradition and its power as a dimension of culture. So it is not that selection itself is new in the process of Panhellenism, but that the criteria for selection change. [25] We can also detect Pindar’s display of his mastery of the criterion of alêtheia in his use of disclaimers of performance (break-off formulas), gnomic statements, and frequently expressed stress upon the right or best story or upon the most effective ways to do epinician song. Such applications of alêtheia involve Pindar’s strategies for negotiating with his audience for a positive evaluation both by regulating audience expectations and by persuading them of the criteria to apply when making their assessments. [26] These strategic dynamics actually point up the relative absence of a traditional model to which the audience could refer when evaluating Pindar’s competence and highlight the open-endedness constitutive of an original epinician performance. In a sense, these observations only reformulate, in terms of performance tradition, the significance of the fact that epinikion was a new genre, whose invention coincided with the emergence of the trend for athletes to commission victory memorials “as a response to social and political developments that threatened the meaning of aristocratic participation in competitive athletics in the late archaic period,” as Nicholson writes (2005:15). [27]

Here it becomes clearer how the original performance of epinikion was constituted as much by subsequent tradition and future reperformance as by prior tradition: original performance of an epinician composition was not reenactment of a particular model, but of various models variously selected by the composer on the basis of the criterion of alêtheia; yet reperformance of epinikion is reenactment of the model of original performance, whose author is the historical Pindar. While dialogue with the past is partially constitutive of original epinician performance, that dialogue is engaged constitutively, not in terms of memory, but in terms of the Panhellenic criterion of alêtheia, which itself is conditioned by the traditional requisites for a composition to become material for mimesis. While it is important to be cautious to avoid anachronism, this discussion of epinician epistemology is apropos of one of Bakhtin’s socio-historical preconditions for the emergence of the novel: “[w]hen the novel becomes the dominant genre, epistemology becomes the dominant discipline” (1981:15).

Underlying epinician epistemology is the recognition of the open-endedness of the present. Original performance, in the context of tradition influenced by Panhellenism, is a matter of risk because implicit in the intense negotiation for positive evaluation by an audience is the possibility that performance could be unsuccessful. I would characterize this potential for performance to fail as a matter of failing to establish a composition as a model for reperformance. [28] A crucial element of the performance method is to account for how the aesthetic and entertainment dimensions of verbal artistic performances influence the shape of social interaction between performer and audience; Bauman writes (1977:11):

Pindar’s compositions can be more fully appreciated by tracking the composer’s strategies for negotiating for a positive evaluation from the audience of the performance of an individual song. The entextualized state of the record for epinician performance obscures exactly this consideration, that performance entails an open-endedness with respect to the outcome (i.e. the audience’s evaluation) of performance. It is necessary to think away the boundaries of the material text and to see each victory song as an emergent communicative event in order to grasp that at the moment of performance the composer would have been in the process of demonstrating his artistic skill and vying for a positive evaluation of his work from the audience. [
30] This dynamic and dialogical dimension of the composer-audience interaction is what constitutes Pindar’s texts as open-ended. [31] Here too we see how the dialogue between original performance and subsequent reperformance is constitutive of the interaction between performer and audience in original performance: the audience’s positive evaluation of epinikion in an original epinician performance enables the process of establishing that composition as a model for reenactment in subsequent performances.

In terms of my analysis of epinician speech and performance so far, “the performer’s display of competence” in epinikion includes the composer’s practical knowledge of epinician performance keys, simple speech genres, and the competent mimesis of models selected in a given epinician composition through strategies of traditionalization. Beyond this crucial factor’s contribution to the open-endedness of an original performance, that the epinician composer is subject to an audience’s evaluation of his display of competence in the epinician way of speaking, we have already identified important ways in which contemporaneity and the open-ended present inform Pindar’s art:

  • From the point of view of epinikion, performance is a matter of composition in performance.
  • Epinikion understood as a speech event locates Pindar’s art in the here and now of face-to-face, live interaction among composer, chorus, and audience.
  • The present of original performance is immanent to the chronotopic shape of each speech genre, which depends upon its spatio-temporal relationship, inclusive or exclusive, relative to the performance event.

In addition to these ways in which Pindar’s art is anchored in an open-ended present, a basic feature of the genre of epinikion, it also commemorates the achievements of Pindar’s contemporaries. Pindar’s songs are important documents of real-world, real-time social relations and cultural practices. In this respect as well, Pindar anchors his art in his present. [
32] The open-endedness of this present is a feature of epinician performance that an ethnographically grounded stylistics particularly brings to the fore.

A final and crucial point concerning contemporaneity and novelistic style is that, for Bakhtin, parody is the hallmark of the connection between a work of verbal art and the present. The occurrence of parody can also be identified, if it exists at all in a work of art, by applying an ethnographic stylistics. But this does not always mean that it is possible to grasp the humor or tones of play or satire that may be involved in parody. At the descriptive level, parody may occur when speech genres or styles blend or productively interfere with each other (Bakhtin 1981:75–76). The concept of register is an especially useful tool for exploring such blending or interference. Speech styles register in particular ways, and an ethnographic stylistics parses out how styles come together as communicative means, even if it is not always possible, especially in the case of a text-artifact, to identify the tone or mood of such dialogic effects. Given that stylistic inflections thoroughly saturate Pindar’s epinikia, I am certain that through a close-grained analysis of the novelistic quality of Pindar’s style it is possible to acquire an ear for at least some parodic threads in his songs. I also hope to show that Pindar’s art evidences dimensions of parody as more conventionally understood. A description of parodic aspects of Olympian 1 goes hand in hand with my description of novelistic features of epinician style.

Polyglossia, epinician epistemology, and the open-ended present of original performance, which constitute the socio-historical backdrop that gives rise to the stylistic features of epinikion , render the art form a novelistic mode of discourse. When we consider the dialogical relationship between performance and reperformance in light of these factors, it is possible to qualify what it means for epinikion to be a new art form in late Archaic and early Classical Greece. [33] Here epinikion is “new” in the sense that it does not have a generic predecessor in the form of an eponymous legendary composer or in the form of an archetypal context of situation. [34] Instead, the art form’s link with tradition comes by way of the selection by Pindar, a historical composer, of strategies of traditionalization, used in his work to authenticate his compositions by demonstrating his competence at tapping into traditional schemes for the performance of verbal art in ancient Greek society. [35] Artful selection and competent display of such traditional schemes establish an authoritative link between a composition and its composer. Original performance is the enabling event for effecting such a linkage, so the evaluative position of the audience to performance becomes crucially constitutive of the process of authorship. Under the influence of Panhellenism, the range of possible contexts for the reperformance of epinikion as described by Currie (2004) suggests a parallel between the reception end (reperformance) and the production end (original performance) of the process of tradition: without an archetypal model to go on, potential reperformers of epinikion would have looked, in part, to a work’s author as a model and, in part, considered whether such a model was appropriate to the variety of contexts of situation in which reperformance might have occurred. A dialogical relationship between original performance and reperformance suggests that an epinician composer anticipates the evaluation of potential target audiences in future venues of performance and negotiates for their approval as expressed by the selection of his works for reperformance. It is in this sense that we might say that such potential target audiences are the superaddressees of Pindar’s songs and, like any other addressees in a dialogue, they influence the speech subject’s choices in communicative strategies. [36] What I identify as novelistic features of epinikion are products of this communicative process. The centrifugal quality of Pindar’s art reflects the centrifugal quality of the relationship between original performance and reperformance, and such generic pliability gives rise to the diverse—indeed, ever novel—ways that Pindar composes his epinician songs. As Bakhtin says of the literary genre of the novel, epinikion “has no canon of its own” (1981:3). [37]

With these considerations in mind I now turn to a description of those stylistic features by exploring how Pindar uses devices for creating an image of language, which in turn enables us to further describe the novelistic features of epinician style. Bakhtin gives three categories of means for creating an image of language: “(1) hybridizations, (2) the dialogized interrelation of languages and (3) pure dialogues” (1981:358). A stylistic hybrid involves the co-occurrence of ethnographic features of two or more speech genres in a single utterance. By comparison, the dialogized interrelation of speech genres involves the ways in which an artist orchestrates relationships among speech genres in the emergent process of communication. Hybridization and the dialogical interrelation of simple speech genres depend upon a conventional recognition among participants in the speech event of epinician performance that simple speech genres are genres of style that are sufficiently autonomous to be meaningful in their own right, by virtue of being, in a sense, signifiers without being irreducible structural signs, in a phonological, morphological, or syntactic sense. The same applies to direct discourse, a form of pure dialogue, in Pindar’s epinikia: as a relatively autonomous utterance, an instance of reported speech is a stretch of communication that can be described in its own right and in relationship with other utterances. “Pure dialogues” in Pindar’s epinikia involve ways of representing speech so that language itself, its style and its situated use, becomes an image.

Bakhtin’s concept of an image of language, then, offers a theoretical vantage point for addressing the problem of how to describe the ways in which language itself becomes a major thread in the fabric of novelistic forms of art (for him, the novel per se). In what follows I will first describe the dialogue of registers in lines 1–27 of Olympian 1, which exemplifies how Pindar generates images of language through hybridization and the dialogized interrelation of speech genres. I will then illustrate how Pindar’s gnomic statements are a prominent example of heteroglossia in his epinician compositions. From there, I will turn to a consideration of how direct discourse in Pindar’s mythological narratives is an image of language. Finally, I will describe parodic effects in Pindar’s treatment of the Pelops myth in Olympian 1.

The Dialogue of Registers

In addition to hybridization, Pindar produces images of language by creating dialogized interrelations among simple speech genres through dynamics of embedding one or more speech genres within a (locally) dominant speech genre. This differs from hybridization in that such dynamics of embedding do not obscure the boundaries of relatively discrete utterances to the extent that hybridization does. To illustrate how Pindar produces dialogized interrelations among the ways of epinician speaking I will discuss the following example passage:

          Ἄριστον μὲν ὕδωρ, ὁ δὲ χρυσὸς αἰθόμενον πῦρ
          ἅτε διαπρέπει νυκτὶ μεγάνορος ἔξοχα πλούτου·
          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·
          ὅθεν ὁ πολύφατος ὕμνος ἀμφιβάλλεται
          σοφῶν μητίεσσι, κελαδεῖν
10      Κρόνου παῖδ᾽ ἐς ἀφνεὰν ἱκομένους
          μάκαιραν Ἱέρωνος ἑστίαν,
          θεμιστεῖον ὃς ἀμφέπει σκᾶπτον ἐν πολυμήλῳ
          Σικελίᾳ δρέπων μὲν κορυφὰς ἀρετᾶν ἄπο πασᾶν,
          ἀγλαΐζεται δὲ καί
15      μουσικᾶς ἐν ἀώτῳ,
          οἷα παίζομεν φίλαν
          ἄνδρες ἀμφὶ θαμὰ τράπεζαν. ἀλλὰ Δωρίαν ἀπὸ φόρμιγγα πασσάλου
          λάμβαν᾽, εἴ τί τοι Πίσας τε καὶ Φερενίκου χάρις
          νόον ὑπὸ γλυκυτάταις ἔθηκε φροντίσιν,
20      ὅτε παρ᾽ Ἀλφεῷ σύτο δέμας 
          ἀκέντητον ἐν δρόμοισι παρέχων,
          κράτει δὲ προσέμειξε δεσπόταν,
          Συρακόσιον ἱπποχάρμαν βασιλῆα· λάμπει δέ οἱ κλέος
          ἐν εὐάνορι Λυδοῦ Πέλοπος ἀποικίᾳ·
25      τοῦ μεγασθενὴς ἐράσσατο Γαιάοχος 
          Ποσειδάν, ἐπεί νιν καθαροῦ λέβητος ἔξελε Κλωθώ,
          ἐλέφαντι φαίδιμον ὦμον κεκαδμένον.

Olympian 1.1–27

Best is water, but then gold is a burning fire,
just as the preeminence of wealth that makes a man great is conspicuous at night.
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,
from where the often uttered hymn is ornamented
with the inventiveness of the wise: to resound in praise
of the son of Kronos while going
to the rich, blessed hearth of Hieron,
who tends the traditional scepter in Sicily, full of flocks,
who, while he plucks the flower of every virtue,
is also adorned
with the peak of musical craft.
Such is the playing
we men often do around the lovely table. 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,
when beside the Alpheos River the horse drove,
extending its ungoaded body in the race,
and united its master with dominance,
the Syracusan king and horse rider. His renown shines bright
in the colony with noble people, the colony of Lydian Pelops,
whom the earth-embracing, mighty Poseidon desired,
after Klotho removed him from the purified cauldron.
And Pelops was well furnished with a shoulder bright with ivory.

We can identify the nuanced dynamics of dialogism in this passage on the basis of the patterns of stylistic features characteristic of the ways of epinician speaking. Each of the speech genres occurring at Olympian 1.1–27 is discursively ordered in relationship to the others through dynamics of embedding. In terms of the difference between frame and framework, I identify a frame as an embedding speech genre and a framework as an embedded speech genre. The frame is the ground against which the figure of the framework emerges. There can be multiple, but organized, planes of interaction, so that an embedded framework can function as an embedding frame for yet another, emergent framework. Relative to a frame, a framework is the more emergent (against the backdrop of a frame) stylistic situation, with corresponding modifications (re-keying) to the interaction among participants in that stylistic situation. [
38] These modifications, or re-keyings, are what Bakhtin describes as inflections, whereby the relationships among utterances create turbulence at the boundaries between speech genres. In the epinician way of speaking, hypotaxis can articulate the junctures of embedding dynamics. [39] The action of embedding creates dialogical relationships among the speech genres and, so, the stylistic three-dimensionality in epinikion. In the following diagram, the left-most margin corresponds to the dominantly organizing speech genre in lines 1–27, eukhesthai, the utterance embedding the other speech genres occurring in the passage (embedding is indicated by the symbol ➥):

Lines 1–7: Eukhesthai
➥Lines 8–11: Lyric
➥Lines 12–15: Angelia
➥Lines 16–17: Lyric
Lines 17–19: Eukhesthai
➥Lines 20–24: Angelia
➥Lines 25–27: Mythological Narrative

In Olympian 1.1–27 Pindar deploys the speech genre of prayer in the service of the speech plan of the lyric speech genre. While lines 1–7 and 17–19, which are the embedding utterances for the remaining lines of the passage, have the second-person addressivity particularly characteristic of prayers, they depict the act of composition, a speech object conventional to the lyric speech genre. In addition to the relationship between prayer and lyric speech genres, the dominantly framing prayer also embeds other speech genres appropriate to communicative conventions of epinikion as a whole, and does so in a way that builds into the flow of communication reference to features of the immediate context of performance—i.e. just as the embedding prayer in lines 1–27 has reflexive features, so do the embedded speech genres. Thus the effect of the dialogized interrelation of languages in Olympian 1.1–27, whereby prayer represents lyric, permeates all strains of discourse in the passage:

The two occurrences of the speech genre angelia in Olympian 1.1–27 have speech objects that are immediately relevant to the occasion of Olympian 1’s performance and, so, possess a lyric quality (i.e. reflexivity); these speech objects are: the athlete, Hieron (lines 12–15 and 22–24), and his athletic victory (lines 20–24).

Mythological narrative at lines 25–27 briefly introduces the central mythological story in the poem and does so specifically in terms of the point upon which Pindar claims later in the song to change the traditional account. The brief segment of mythological narrative has a reflexive quality because it refers to the central myth of the song as a whole, as a complex speech genre.

Here then we see how the dialogized interrelation of speech genres at Olympian 1.1–27 also involves a kind of hybridization: the dominantly organizing speech genre, the frame, for lines 1–27 is prayer, and this simple speech genre does the work of another speech genre, lyric. To observe that Pindar uses the speech genre of prayer to execute the speech plan of the lyric genre is also to say that the lyric speech genre is represented by prayer, and this fact is consonant with Bakhtin’s explanation of how hybridization creates an “artistic image of language”: “[t]he artistic image of a language must by its very nature be a linguistic hybrid (an intentional hybrid): it is obligatory for two linguistic consciousnesses to be present, the one being represented and the other doing the representing, with each belonging to a different system of language” (1981:359). Chapters Three and Four presented the evidence for treating each of the ways of epinician speaking as a register, a discrete “system of language.” The “linguistic hybrids” that result from blending the discrete ways of epinician speaking are ubiquitous in Pindar’s epinikia.

Gnomic Statements

Pindar’s use of gnomic statements is another example of how the epinician way of speaking possesses stylistic three-dimensionality and the propensity to generate artistic images of language. Recall two points that I have already made about gnomic statements. First, in Chapter One I treated gnomic statements as a form of representing communication that Pindar frequently uses to express rules about the appropriate doing of the epinician way of speaking. Second, in my description of the gnomic speech genre in Chapter 3, I demonstrated how the inclusive indefiniteness of gnomic style renders statements couched in that style as relevant to all participants in the speech event of performance. Taken together, these observations enable us to treat gnomic statements as expressions of appropriateness rules for speech and performance (the composition end of the communicative exchange) and of criteria for the audience’s evaluation of performance (the reception end of the communicative exchange). In other words, gnomic statements are typically metacommunicative, and the stylistic features of the speech genre of the epinician gnôma complement this metalingual function. From a participant-centered point of view, this indefiniteness distances the speech subject from the speech object and speech plan of a gnomic statement, which often concern social conventions for appropriate speech and behavior, in such a way that the composer speaks (via a choral channel) as the animator of values or beliefs shared by all participants in the speech event of epinician performance. [43] At the level of simple speech genre, the gnomic statement is uttered by an indefinite third-person speech subject who gives voice to—animates—the “verbal-ideological belief system” (Bakhtin 1981:312) of wisdom traditions and moral topoi. In what follows I will describe social functions of gnomic statements by way of a pragmatic gloss on gnômai in Olympian 1 that identifies their applied message, how they shape artistic images of language in the “zone of maximal contact” (Bakhtin 1981:11) in the communicative exchange between composer and audience—i.e. by communicating criteria for the evaluation of the current performance.

To illustrate this functional interpretation of epinician gnômai I cite the following passage: [44]

          ἦ θαυματὰ πολλά, καί πού τι καὶ βροτῶν
          φάτις ὑπὲρ τὸν ἀλαθῆ λόγον
          δεδαιδαλμένοι ψεύδεσι ποικίλοις ἐξαπατῶντι μῦθοι·
30      Χάρις δ᾽, ἅπερ ἅπαντα τεύχει τὰ μείλιχα θνατοῖς, 
          ἐπιφέροισα τιμὰν καὶ ἄπιστον ἐμήσατο πιστόν
          ἔμμεναι τὸ πολλάκις·
          ἁμέραι δ᾽ ἐπίλοιποι
          μάρτυρες σοφώτατοι.
35      ἔστι δ᾽ ἀνδρὶ φάμεν ἐοικὸς ἀμφὶ δαιμόνων καλά· μείων γὰρ αἰτία. 

Olympian 1.28–35

Truly wondrous are many things, and, as it seems mortals’
speech in excess of a true account,
stories crafted with ornate lies, are utterly deceptive.
But grace, which provides all mild things for mortals,
bringing honor, it makes the unbelievable believable,
but the remaining days
are the wisest witnesses.
It is appropriate for a man to say upright things about the gods; for fault is less.

To gloss these lines pragmatically (i.e. in terms of their communicative functions in the praxis of performance), Pindar communicates that deceptive speech occurs among humans (lines 28–29); that kharis can contradict truth as well as ratify it (30–32); that time is the ultimate test for the appropriateness or efficacy of speech (lines 33–34); and that one measure of appropriate speech is to say upright things about the gods (line 35). This sequence of thoughts is metacommunicative because it qualifies how the audience is to evaluate the composer’s communication—the mythological narrative, in particular, the composition and performance of Olympian 1, in general.

Pindar’s use of gnomic statements to communicate criteria for evaluating his composition is a form of heteroglossia and, so, is double-voiced in the particular sense formulated by Bakhtin: “It serves two speakers at the same time and expresses simultaneously two different intentions: the direct intention of the character who is speaking, and the refracted intention of the author” (1981:324). The two voices present in the gnomic statements at Olympian 1.28–35 include (1) the authenticating voice of the verbal-ideological belief system represented by the gnomic style (i.e. traditional wisdom) and (2) the composer’s voice, which appropriates the gnomic style to regiment the audience’s evaluation of his composition. The first voice conveys a structural message; the second voice, an applied message. When uttering a gnomic statement, the composer immerses his voice into the third-person speech subject of the gnomic statement. But this immersion does not conflate the two voices; they stand in a dialogical figure-ground relationship: the ground is the relatively immanent status of wisdom traditions and moral topoi as represented by the gnomic style itself, and the figure is the emergent context of Olympian 1 as a speech event. The two voices present in the gnomic passage at Olympian 1.28–35, in Bakhtin’s terms, “are dialogically interrelated, they—as it were—know about each other (just as two exchanges in a dialogue know of each other and are structured in this mutual knowledge of each other); it is as if they actually hold a conversation with each other” (1981:324).

In the context of Olympian 1 as a whole, lines 28–35 set up a frame for interpreting Pindar’s revision of the Pelops myth and initiate a sequence of messages about kharis that establish kharis as a principal of reciprocity [45] —and, as we will see, as the focus of a bawdy form of paronomasia (cf. Bauman 1996:314–322). The principle of reciprocity is the common thread between parallels built into Olympian 1:

Pindar sets up a frame for the interpretation of his composition through his use of metacommunication in the gnomic statements of lines 28–35 and thus engages in “the process of coming to know one’s own language as it is perceived in someone else’s language, coming to know one’s own horizon within someone else’s horizon” (Bakhtin 1981:365). [
48] There is a dialogical dynamic involved here: Pindar’s communication of criteria for evaluating his artistic competence is an implicit acknowledgement of the audience’s participation in the creation of his song. In part this means that the audience’s approval of the song is to be negotiated and secured in the here and now of performance, with the implication that Pindar’s art moves in “the zone of maximal contact with the present (with contemporary reality) in all its openendedness.” (Bakhtin 1981:11). Again, and as I will show below, the gnomic passage at Olympian 1.28–35 is also crucial for creating the parodic overtones in Olympian 1.

Direct Discourse as an Image of Language

Direct discourse in mythological narrative involves a dialogue between two contexts: the context of narration in performance and the context of narrated events. In epinician art myth is not completely walled off in a valorized past, but comes to bear in the emergent, here-and-now context of performance in the following three ways. First, through mythological narrative the epinician composer can display to the audience his competence at drawing from the repertoire of traditional stories through strategies of traditionalization. Second, factors particular to an individual performance drive the selection of material for mythological narrative, so that in many of Pindar’s epinikia narrated events provide a point of view upon events commemorated in epinician performance. Third, the direct discourse of actors in mythological narrative is regularly constituted by rules for epinician speaking—so much so, that a figure’s misuse of the epinician register in narrated events serves to negatively characterize her or him. [49] “Insofar as acts of speaking are of focal interest in certain kinds of narrative,” as Bauman has insightfully observed, “an understanding of the ways that these speech acts are contextualized within the narrative can enhance our understanding both of how speaking operates and is understood to operate in social life and of how narratives are constructed” (1986a:54, emphasis in original). I accordingly argue that Pelops’ direct discourse in Olympian 1 illustrates the reflexive relationship between speech practices represented in narrated events and the speech practices of epinician performance and, so, is also an example of how Pindar uses the epinician way of speaking as an image of language. [50] Martin has demonstrated that in Homer’s language, “muthos denotes an authoritative speech act,” going on to show that of three premier forms of muthos discourse—commands, flyting, and performances of memory (also called “the recitation of remembered events”)—performances of memory stand out as the nexus between what I have been referring to as representing and represented communication: “all important verbal art within the poem [i.e. the Iliad], as done by the poem’s speakers, depends upon the creative manipulation of this ultimate genre, which matches the poet’s medium” (1989:46–47). [51] I am similarly arguing here that Pindar’s speakers use the ways of epinician speaking and that the speeches of figures of mythological narratives in Pindar’s epinikia are images of language insofar as those speeches represent mythological speakers as performers of those conventional ways of speaking.

To begin with, I cite Pelops’ speech, a prayer addressed to Poseidon:

75      τῷ μὲν εἶπε· “Φίλια δῶρα Κυπρίας ἄγ᾽ εἴ τι, Ποσείδαον, ἐς χάριν 
          τέλλεται, πέδασον ἔγχος Οἰνομάου χάλκεον,
          ἐμὲ δ᾽ ἐπὶ ταχυτάτων πόρευσον ἁρμάτων
          ἐς Ἆλιν, κράτει δὲ πέλασον.
          ἐπεὶ τρεῖς τε καὶ δέκ᾽ ἄνδρας ὀλέσαις
80      μναστῆρας ἀναβάλλεται γάμον 
          θυγατρός. ὁ μέγας δὲ κίνδυνος ἄναλκιν οὐ φῶτα λαμβάνει.
          θανεῖν δ᾽ οἷσιν ἀνάγκα, τά κέ τις ἀνώνυμον
          γῆρας ἐν σκότῳ καθήμενος ἕψοι μάταν,
          ἁπάντων καλῶν ἄμμορος; ἀλλ᾽ ἐμοὶ μὲν οὗτος ἄεθλος
85      ὑποκείσεται· τὺ δὲ πρᾶξιν φίλαν δίδοι.”

Olympian 1.75–85

Pelops addressed him: “Come on, Poseidon, if at all the cherished gifts of Kypria result in grace,
restrain the bronze spear of Oinomaos,
bear me on the swiftest chariot
to Elis, and bring me to dominance.
After killing thirteen men,
suitors, he delays the marriage
of his daughter. Great risk does not fall to a mortal who lacks strength.
Among those for whom it is necessary to die, why would anyone
sit in darkness and foolishly boil down a nameless old age
and be without a share in all upright things? But this contest
lies before me. May you grant the desired deed.”

In this passage of direct discourse, Pelops uses the ways of epinician speaking that constitute the epinician way of speaking. I summarize here the relevant details, noting aspects of formal patterning, which I explain below:

Pattern Lines Speech Genre Crucial Features
A 75–78 Eukhesthai Second-person singular imperatives addressed to Poseidon: ἄγ᾽ (line 75), πέδασον (line 76), πόρευσον (line 77), and πέλασον (line 78). Vocative addressed to Poseidon (line 75).
B 79–81 Mythological Narrative Pelops briefly relates the story about Oinomaos’ fatal contest for suitors.
C 81–84 Gnôma Features of indefiniteness: φῶτα (line 81), οἷσιν (indefinite antecedent, line 82), τις (line 82), and ἁπάντων καλῶν (genitive plural neuter adjectives used substantively, line 84).
b 84–85 Lyric Reflexive features: ἐμοί (line 84) and οὗτος ἄεθλος (the deictic refers to Pelops’ immediate undertaking, line 84).
a 85 Eukhesthai Optative of wish with second-person address to Poseidon.

In the context of the composer’s telling of the Pelops story—we can call this the diegetical context—the simple speech genre of mythological narrative is dominant. Here the reported speech, which is embedded in an act of narration, has the same stylistic diversity as the complex genre of epinikion, so that there is a reflexive relationship between Pelops’ direct discourse and Pindar’s composition of Olympian 1. [52] Given parallel content between houtos aethlos ‘this contest’ (line 84) and Pelops’ description of the contest in the brief mythological narrative at lines 79–81, Pelops’ entire speech has a ring structure, A-B-C-b-a, where A and a are eukhesthai passages, B and b are thematically parallel, [53] and C is a gnomic statement at the discursive core of the direct discourse. As I will show below, this ring composition of Pelops’ speech mirrors the ring composition of Olympian 1 as a whole, which also has a gnomic statement at its discursive core. There is another remarkable parallel between the discursive structures of Pelops’ speech and Olympian 1: just as Pelops’ eukhesthai at lines 75–78 is the second-person imperative type, so is Pindar’s eukhesthai at lines 1–6; just as Pelops’ eukhesthai at line 85 is in the form of an optative of wish, so is Pindar’s eukhesthai at lines 115–116. I am going to say more below about the reflexive relationship between Pelops’ speech and the composition in which it is embedded in light of Pindaric parody, but for the moment this discussion serves to show how direct discourse is an image of language; in this case Pelops’ speech is an image of the epinician way of speaking as represented by Olympian 1 as a whole.

Given the reflexive relationship between representing communication and represented communication, Pelops’ speech is an example of what Bauman has described, in the context of studying the role of reported speech in the relationship between narrated events and the act of narration, as “a shift along the continuum from diegesis to mimesis, from telling to showing” (1986a:65). As an idealized speaker, Pelops is a model performer of Pindar’s artistic medium: “[f]orm and content in the speech of Pelops are artfully chosen so as to corroborate the truthfulness of the Pindaric version and establish its authority” (Athanassaki 2004:333). Given the reflexive relationship between narration and narrated speech articulated by the stylistic and structural parallels between Pelops’ speech and Pindar’s composition, Poseidon is, by extension, a model addressee: by granting Pelops’ request, Poseidon models for the audience to the original performance of Olympian 1 an idealized response to Olympian 1’s performance. Note that the ring composition of Pelops’ speech is further articulated by lines 75 and 86, where the narrator sets, as it were, quotation marks around Pelops’ display of the epinician way of speaking. [54] The line-initial locations of tô men eipe “[Pelops] addressed him [Poseidon]” (75), hôs ennepen “thus he spoke” (86), and epesi “with words” (86) stress the speech-act quality of Pelops’ prayer because these forms of metalanguage are related to the word epos, which Pindar often uses to name speech acts such as figures in mythological narratives perform. The phrase οὐδ᾽ ἀκράντοις ἐφάψατο ἔπεσι “and did not use unfulfilled words” (line 87) associates the fulfillment of Pelops’ request with his effective use of the epinician way of speaking and Poseidon’s positive evaluation of it. Here, then, we have an epinician example of what Martin has shown about the language of heroes in Homer’s Iliad, that “heroic performance gains approval when it is persuasive… And the sign of persuasion is that speech moves others to act in sympathy with the speaker” (1989:100). The quotative frame discursively articulates this reflexive relationship: tô men eipe “[Pelops] addressed him [Poseidon]” (line 75) and hôs ennepen “thus he spoke” (86) frame the reported speech of Pelops using verba dicendi. [55] This quotative frame transitions from the present of the act of narration and the interaction between the composer and audience to the “present” of the framework of interaction between Pelops and Poseidon (the narrated events) and back again (cf. Bauman 1986a:100). In other words, tô men eipe “[Pelops] addressed him” at line 75 effects a transition from diegesis to mimesis and hôs ennepen “thus he spoke” at line 86 effects a transition in the opposite direction, from mimesis to diegesis.

Parody in Olympian 1

In this section of my description of novelistic features of epinician style, I will first describe how Pindar demonstrates his observance of kharis understood as a principle of reciprocity by way of displaying his competence in rules for appropriate speech as communicated by gnomic utterances in Olympian 1. Then, I will show that Pindar blurs the line between propriety and impropriety by representing the relationship between Pelops and Poseidon as a model of kharis in the sense of a principle of reciprocity and also as a case of a socially inappropriate erotic relationship (according to ancient Greek norms for sexuality) that involves a problematic application of the term kharis. Finally, and crucially, I will demonstrate that Pindar represents his relationship with Hieron, the laudandus of Olympian 1, in terms of kharis understood in both senses, as a principle of reciprocity and as a by-word for questionable sexual practices. We will discover that in these dynamics Pindar uses the reverent quotation marks of the gnomic style to frame the irreverent sexual practices represented in Olympian 1.

One passage in the song stands out as a remarkable display of the composer’s observance of the rules for appropriate speech expressed by the gnomic statements at lines 28–35. Pindar represents himself as committed to observing the parameters of propriety: “For me it is impossible to say that any of the blessed ones is gluttonous; I stay away from that” (ἐμοὶ δ᾽ ἄπορα γαστρίμαργον μακάρων τιν᾽ εἰπεῖν· ἀφίσταμαι, line 52). Although the first-person forms and the speech object, speech itself, mark it as dominantly lyric, the utterance also has gnomic features:

  • The construction ἄπορα with infinitive and understood ἐστί is typically impersonal.
  • The use of the indefinite pronoun τινα.
  • The substantive use of the adjective μακάρων.
  • The aphoristic force of the single word sentence ἀφίσταμαι “I stay away from that.”

This lyric utterance has the “intonational quotation marks” (Bakhtin 1981:44) of the gnomic style, inflecting the dominantly reflexive quality of the lyric passage with the inclusive indefiniteness characteristic of gnômai. The hybridization of gnomic and lyric styles presents the self-characterization of the lyric utterance as a common belief or point of view—a self-characterization presumably to be shared by the audience (again, by virtue of the very inflections of the lyric speech genre with the gnomic speech genre): line 52 demonstrates stylistically that Pindar, as a general rule, does not violate the criteria for appropriate speech established in lines 28–35. [
61] Specifically, one criterion for the trustworthiness of speech is that one “say upright things about the gods” (line 35). To display his observance of this criterion, in line 52 Pindar represents himself as a composer who proverbially (again, from the point of view established by the gnomic inflection of the lyric utterance) refuses to say that any of the gods is a glutton. [62]

There are two contiguous discursive patterns that inform the emergent development of the theme of kharis in Olympian 1 and justify both the censure of gluttony in the song and the more permissive attitude toward sexual practices: (1) the gnomic passage at 28–35 and the gnomic statement at line 53 frame the composer’s prayer to Pelops, lines 36–51 and the lyric-gnomic hybrid at line 52; (2) in turn, the gnomic statements at lines 53 and 64 frame the mythological narrative about Tantalos’ offense against the gods, lines 54–64. Here I represent schematically these two patterns, noting as well the dynamics of embedding involved in the passages: [67]

Pattern 1:
A: Lines 28–35: Gnômai
B: Lines 36–51: Eukhesthai Addressed to Pelops
➥Lines 37–51: Mythological Narrative
➥Lines 43–45: Mythological Narrative
b: Line 52: Lyric
a: Line 53: Gnôma
Pattern 2:
A: Line 53: Gnôma
C: Lines 54–64: Mythological Narrative
A: Line 64: Gnôma

These discursive structures parse the main passages of Olympian 1’s mythological narrative into two panels that break out along lines of distinction between how to evaluate gluttony and non-normative sexual practices, respectively. The first panel, which concerns gluttony, includes the two discursive patterns described above. The second, which concerns exceptional sexual practices, includes the mythological narrative about Pelops (lines 65–96). Binding together these various strains of the fabric are messages concerning propriety and examples that illustrate the performance of kharis as a principle of reciprocity.

Pattern 1 of the first panel, created by the gnomic passages at lines 28–35 and line 53, is a form of discursive parallelism in which the positions of simple speech genres within a composition involve patterned repetition. The frame created by these passages sets up a comparison that concerns appropriate speech, suggesting that kakagoroi ‘slanderers’ (line 53) are those who use deceptive speech, as described at lines 28–29:

ἀκέρδεια λέλογχεν θαμινὰ κακαγόρους.

Olympian 1.53

Lack of gain is often the lot of slanderers [kakagoroi].

Like many gnomic statements in Pindar’s epinikia, line 53 is metacommunicative, explaining, in a sense, to the audience that they can evaluate the performance of Olympian 1 in terms of whether Pindar avoids such a violation of propriety as slanderers’ speech. Whereas slanderers earn akerdeia ‘lack of gain’, the gain involved in epinician performance is, at least, the audience’s positive evaluation of Pindar and the capital, social and perhaps monetary, that attends the success of a song of praise. If we read his gnomic statements as criteria for evaluating Olympian 1, Pindar cannot be a deceptive speaker or slanderer and must observe the principle of kharis in order to be successful. This concern to secure a positive evaluation from the audience plays out to the extent that it informs the way in which Pindar chooses to report the rejected story of how Pelops gets his ivory shoulder (cf. Köhnken 1974:200–201). Pindar buries that version of the story in indirect discourse attributed to a speaker he describes, with an indefinite pronoun and in the language of blame poetics, as “some jealous neighbor” who speaks in secret (line 47)—and, as Pattern 1 above illustrates, that reported speech is itself embedded in a speech genre, mythological narrative, embedded in the prayer addressed to Pelops. If we pause to wonder why Pindar reports the story that Tantalos cooks his son and serves him to the gods at all, the answer is that by doing so Pindar (1) is able to set up the opposition between gluttony, which is subject to censure, and non-normative sexual practice, which is not subject to censure and (2) displays his competence by demonstrating his awareness of the version of the Pelops story in which Tantalos stews his son. [

In this connection, we see in Pattern 2 of the diagram above how Pindar presents Tantalos as an example of impropriety specifically with respect to the consumption of food and drink. Tantalos’ punishment results from a violation of the rules for reciprocity entailed in kharis in a context analogous to the characterization of the context for performance in lines 9–11 and 16–17, a festal situation that involves the practice of xenia:

          εἰ δὲ δή τιν᾽ ἄνδρα θνατὸν Ὀλύμπου σκοποί
55      ἐτίμασαν, ἦν Τάνταλος οὗτος· ἀλλὰ γὰρ καταπέψαι 
          μέγαν ὄλβον οὐκ ἐδυνάσθη, κόρῳ δ᾽ ἕλεν
          ἄταν ὑπέροπλον, ἅν τοι πατὴρ ὕπερ
          κρέμασε καρτερὸν αὐτῷ λίθον,
          τὸν αἰεὶ μενοινῶν κεφαλᾶς βαλεῖν εὐφροσύνας ἀλᾶται.
          ἔχει δ᾽ ἀπάλαμον βίον τοῦτον ἐμπεδόμοχθον
60      μετὰ τριῶν τέταρτον πόνον, ἀθανάτους ὅτι κλέψαις 
          ἁλίκεσσι συμπόταις
          νέκταρ ἀμβροσίαν τε
          δῶκεν, οἷσιν ἄφθιτον
          θέν νιν.

Olympian 1.54–64

Indeed, if the guardians of Olympos honored any mortal man,
it was this Tantalos. But he was not able to stomach
this great prosperity, and for his insatiability he took
monstrous ruin, which was that the Father
hung a hard stone over him.
He always wishes to cast it from his head and is deprived of gladness.
He has this helpless life of endless pain
as a fourth labor along with the other three, because after deceiving the immortals,
to his drinking companions
he gave nectar and ambrosia;
with these things the gods made
Tantalos immortal.

Tantalos’ fault is to violate the trust extended to him by the gods. By deceiving them and providing his friends with nectar and ambrosia, he abuses the divine gift of immortality and abuses xenia. Pindar’s language for summarizing the nature of Tantalos’ crime against the gods stresses gluttony at lines 55–56, where the language thematically echoes Pindar’s lyric-gnomic hybrid statement at line 52, in which he stipulates: “For me it is impossible to say that any of the blessed ones is gluttonous.” [

Just as lines 28–35 and 53 create a frame for the composer’s prayer to Pelops (lines 36–52), the gnomic statements at lines 53 and 64 create a frame for the mythological narrative of lines 54–64, cited above. In the gnomic statement at line 64, “If any man while doing anything hopes to escape the notice of a god, he is wrong” (εἰ δὲ θεὸν ἀνήρ τις ἔλπεταί <τι> λαθέμεν ἔρδων, ἁμαρτάνει), the inclusive indefiniteness of the gnomic style makes the thought applicable to Pindar as well as Tantalos. With this passage I suggest that Pindar is invoking a divine order of evaluation for his composition, a gesture that especially nests the parodic aspects of the song in the reverent quotation marks of the gnomic speech genre. In the course of Olympian 1, the image of the author observing the rules for propriety expressed by gnomic statements is maintained in a qualified way—when it comes to gluttony, Pindar’s speech conforms to social conventions, but when it comes to sex, especially the sexual practices of a god, Poseidon, it does not. But toward the song’s conclusion, just at the point where we can reasonably conjecture that the real-time choral performance gives way to a real-time celebratory feast, this qualification is erased in favor of food, as it were: the artistic kharis seems to override even the possibility of impropriety (103–108 and 111–112 invoke the themes of xenia and food, favorably equating them with song). It is as if the evaluative capacity of the speech of wisdom traditions is internally criticized and gradually subordinated, in terms of aesthetic merit, to parody—and this with some god watching (possibly the Muse at 112), as suggested by line 64. In these dynamics, then, we have a case where the parody “on genres and generic styles (‘languages’) enter the great and diverse world of verbal forms that ridicule the straightforward, serious world in all its generic uses” (Bakhtin 1981:52; cf. 59–60).

As a consequence of the principle expressed in the gnomic statement of line 64 and of Tantalos’ actions, Pelops loses his place among the gods. Τοὔνεκα (touneka ) ‘for that reason’ (line 65) splices the mythological narrative at lines 65–96, where Pindar narrates Pelops’ deeds and relationship with Poseidon, with both the preceding gnomic statement (line 64) and the mythological narrative about Tantalos’ deception of the gods (lines 54–64):

65      τοὔνεκα {οἱ} προῆκαν υἱὸν ἀθάνατοί <οἱ> πάλιν
          μετὰ τὸ ταχύποτμον αὖτις ἀνέρων ἔθνος.

Olympian 1.65–66

For that reason the immortals sent Tantalos’ son back
again among the quick-fated race of men.

The dismissal of Pelops from his khreos (line 45) to Poseidon is clearly punitive. This suggests that Pelops’ khreos is a privilege, a situation in which he experiences kharis as the beloved of Poseidon—not only in the general sense of reciprocity, but also in the specific sense of an erômenos’ gratification of an erastês. Here we should note that if kharis in the context of a pederastic relationship is equivalent in a sense to the verb kharizesthai ‘to gratify’, then it is within the parameters of propriety for Pelops as erômenos to gratify his erastês, Poseidon. The punishment of Pelops for Tantalos’ offense does not appear to sever the ties of kharis between Pelops and Poseidon. In fact, when Pindar presents his trustworthy and kharis-driven account of the story of Pelops, the language in which Pindar depicts the ongoing relationship between hero and god continues to refer to that relationship’s erotic nature, though subtly, through the double meaning of kharis as principle of reciprocity and as the gratification of an erastês by an erômenos.

In the context of a pederastic relationship between Poseidon and Pelops, now that Pelops has reached the age of manhood, kharis, understood as a principle of reciprocity, may entail a reversal of the erastês and erômenos roles: kharis implies in Olympian 1 that Pelops may move from the erômenos role to the erastês role, with the implication, suggested by the meaning of kharizesthai, that Poseidon, now with erômenos status, may provide kharis in the sense of gratifying Pelops as erastês. This possible scenario is problematic in light of social norms for sexual behavior, and it invests kharis with the connotative ambivalence that is the source of parody in Olympian 1.

Pindar’s emphasis on Pelops’ appearance signals a change in the hero’s status and the sexual roles that he can appropriately adopt or pursue. As Cairns has observed: “Pindar specifically emphasises that Pelops was carried off to serve the same purpose for Poseidon as Ganymede served for Zeus (44f.). When Pelops later prays to Poseidon, he is described in terms frequently (and ruefully) found in homosexual contexts to emphasise that the παῖς καλός [pais kalos ‘lovely boy’] has passed beyond puberty, and so is no longer an object of male desire but (like Pelops) fit for marriage” (1977:129–130). Pindar’s description of Pelops’ changed appearance stresses that the hero has moved from the age appropriate to being an erômenos to an age when he could become an erastês—and this at the same time that Pindar introduces the topic of Pelops’ desire for marriage to Hippodameia:

          πρὸς εὐάνθεμον δ᾽ ὅτε φυάν
          λάχναι νιν μέλαν γένειον ἔρεφον,
          ἑτοῖμον ἀνεφρόντισεν γάμον
70      Πισάτα παρὰ πατρὸς εὔδοξον Ἱπποδάμειαν 

Olympian 1.67–71

When at the flowering age
whiskers covered his chin with dark,
he turned his thoughts to ready marriage,
to have from her father, the man from Pisa,
the widely renowned Hippodameia.

I think that we should read the passage in terms of real-world, contemporary sexual practices. [
70] Lines 67–68 bring into play the possibility that Pelops and Poseidon might alternate sexual roles in their relationship in light of Dover’s observation that “[o]nce the beard was grown, a young male was supposed to be passing out of the erômenos stage” (1989:86). By focusing upon the features of Pelops’ appearance, Pindar cues us to read his mythological narrative in terms of the code of pederastic practices at just the moment when the hero is about to address his prayer to Poseidon. Social norms do not preclude the possibility that Pelops marry Hippodameia and conduct an erotic relationship with another male, and the artistic design of Olympian 1 offers this possibility. If we take into account Dover’s observations that “[i]t was shocking if an erastês was younger than his erômenos” and that “[o]ne could be erastês and erômenos at the same stage of one’s life, but not both in relation to the same person” (1989:87), then it is possible to see the exceptional nature of a scenario in which Pelops would become an erastês to Poseidon, who would in turn become the hero’s erômenos, as implied by the erotic extension of kharis as a principle of reciprocity. By virtue of the possibility that Pelops could become the erastês of Poseidon, as suggested by the physical description of the hero (lines 67–68), Pindar presents a scenario in which extraordinary sexual practices are in play: Pelops would be a younger erastês to Poseidon, whose erômenos he had once been. Given the implication of the code of kharis that Pindar establishes in the poem, reciprocity—that it would be appropriate for Poseidon to reciprocate Pelops’ previous khreos in kind—Pelops’ first words to Poseidon have a highly provocative quality: “Pelops addressed him: ‘Come on, Poseidon, if at all the cherished gifts of Kypria result in grace’” (τῷ μὲν εἶπε· “Φίλια δῶρα Κυπρίας ἄγ᾽ εἴ τι, Ποσείδαον, ἐς χάριν / τέλλεται,” Olympian 1.75–76). Specific references to Φίλια δῶρα Κυπρίας “cherished gifts of Kypria” and kharis (line 75) imply the principle of reciprocity in the context of an erotic relationship (cf. Gerber 1982:118).

I would suggest that Pindar represents Pelops as “teasing” Poseidon with the possibility of an erotic encounter and, so, serves as Pindar’s image of “the rogue’s gay deception [that] parodies high languages” (Bakhtin 1981:405), such as the gnomic register and the language of conventional supplication (i.e. lita ‘entreaty’, lines 76–78, discussed below). Such a reading gives in turn a playful color to Pelops’ utterance of the final word in the protasis of his conditional sentence, τέλλεται (telletai ) ‘result in’ (line 76), where the parodic contour of the passage reaches its pitch, as Pelops’ request for requital (i.e. kharis) for his prior khreos (line 45) to Poseidon does not entail the god’s gratification, but a set of requests: [71]

πέδασον ἔγχος Οἰνομάου χάλκεον,
ἐμὲ δ᾽ ἐπὶ ταχυτάτων πόρευσον ἁρμάτων
ἐς Ἆλιν, κράτει δὲ πέλασον.

Olympian 1.76–78

Restrain the bronze spear of Oinomaos,
bear me on the swiftest chariot
to Elis, and bring me to dominance.

Given the erotic connotations of kharis as a principle of reciprocity and the cues about how to read the sexual roles of Poseidon and Pelops, namely that Pelops’ age suggests that he is moving into the erastês stage, the story holds out the possibility that Poseidon may assume the erômenos role, contrary to social norms. Following the line of argument articulated metacommunicatively by statements couched in or heavily inflected by the gnomic style, Pindar would not be violating any conventions for appropriate speech (lines 28–35) to suggest that the god and hero may engage in an exceptional sexual relationship, so long as the composer does not claim that they are gluttonous (line 52) and he does not suffer the lack of gain that is the lot of slanderers (line 54), presumably a form of punishment for those who offend the gods with their speech. [
72] Pindar pushes the envelope to hint that Poseidon may assume the erômenos role in a pederastic relationship, a possibility that would violate the social norms for the sexual practices of males in ancient Greek society, as Dover indicates: “Since the reciprocal desire of partners belonging to the same age-category is virtually unknown in Greek homosexuality, the distinction between the bodily activity of the one who has fallen in love and the bodily passivity of the one with whom he has fallen in love is of the highest importance” (1989:16). If kharis as a principle of reciprocity is to be sustained in the poem and if the imagery of the poem suggests that Pelops has reached the erastês stage, then trading on the “gifts of Kypria” (kharis both as reciprocity and as sexual gratification) implies in an open-ended way that Poseidon may move into the erômenos role. I suggest that this open-endedness concerning Poseidon’s questionable sexual behavior makes the by-now intensely ambivalent sense of kharis available for rendering the praise of Hieron and the performance of Olympian 1 itself with overtones of parody.

This becomes more evident when we consider that the principle of reciprocity as expressed by kharis, with its sexual connotations intact, also applies in the relationship between Pindar and Hieron. While there is much to recommend the parallel between hero and athlete, [73] the evidence in Olympian 1 suggests that Pelops is very certainly a model for the performance of Olympian 1 and, thus, for the laudator’s relationship to his laudandus. To recap this evidence briefly:

  • Pelops uses the epinician way of speaking effectively, providing a model for Pindar’s own speech.
  • The structure of Pelops’ speech (described above) is a reflex of the ring composition of Pindar’s song, Olympian 1 (see below).
  • Just as Pelops’ observance of the rules of propriety communicated by kharis (with the word’s ambivalent connotations intact) warrants the positive response of Poseidon to the hero’s speech, so Pindar’s observance of the rules of propriety, especially kharis understood as a principle of reciprocity, would secure for the composer a positive evaluation of his composition by the audience.
  • As demonstrated in Chapter One, Olympian 1.17–19 describes the composition of Olympian 1 in terms of the reception of a traditional song-making strategy and gives kharis as the motivation for that act of composition-as-reception.
  • Just as Tantalos’ relationship with the gods, which entails a violation of kharis understood as a principle of reciprocity, is a foil for Pelops’ relationship with Poseidon, Tantalos is also a foil for Pindar’s practice of kharis as an artistic act of reciprocity that commemorates the deeds of the laudandus.

One of the most connotatively charged parallels between Pindar and Pelops involves the role of the theme of khreos in Olympian 1. Pindar applies language similar to his description of Pelops’ erotic relationship with Poseidon, in terms of khreos (line 45), to describe his praise of Hieron:

100    ἐμὲ δὲ στεφανῶσαι 
          κεῖνον ἱππίῳ νόμῳ
          Αἰοληΐδι μολπᾷ
          χρή· πέποιθα δὲ ξένον
          μή τιν᾽ ἀμφότερα καλῶν τε ἴδριν †ἅμα καὶ δύναμιν κυριώτερον
105    τῶν γε νῦν κλυταῖσι δαιδαλωσέμεν ὕμνων πτυχαῖς. 

Olympian 1.100–105

It is necessary for me to crown
that man with a rider’s measure
in Aeolic song.
I am persuaded that there is not any host
both skilled in upright things and at the same time more sovereign in power
among people today to ornament with famous layers of humnoi.

The word khrê (line 103) is an echo of khreos (line 45). In fact, both words occur in the fifth line of the antistrophe in which they occur, respectively, which provides formal evidence to demonstrate that there is a parallel between Pelops and Pindar with respect to their fulfillment of khreos in the context of observing the principle of reciprocity expressed by kharis. Taken to its full extent, the analogy between Pelops (i.e. with reference to line 45) and Pindar would suggest that Pindar’s act of kharis in the form of a song of praise reciprocating Hieron’s victory figuratively places Pindar in the position of erômenos to Hieron’s erastês. Such an interpretation of the parallel evocations of the theme of khreos gives the second-person address to Hieron at the end of the poem a palpable quality. [
74] Athanassaki, for example, has observed that the shift in the characterization of the laudatorlaudandus relationship, from xenia through most of Olympian 1 to homilia in lines 106–114, “is decisive in producing the special intimate effect of the speaker speaking in the presence of his addressee” (2004:323). Further, when we consider that in an original performance a chorus of young men, who would have been the age appropriate to the erômenos stage, sang Pindar’s composition, we can begin to discern the subtly ribald quality of the song. [75] Considering still further that this chorus was a didactic vehicle for passing on and representing the values of a community, we seem to have something quite opposed to the highly conventional Pindar constructed by exegetical philology: popular laughter. In fact, given the parallels between Pelops and Pindar, the image of the author emerges as a rogue figure in light of Pindar’s parody of the high language of gnomic style and myth (cf. Bakhtin 1981:405).

I would further note that lines 103–105 apply the principle of reciprocity to the relationship between composer and laudandus. While this passage has the first-person singular verb πέποιθα “I am persuaded” (line 103) and refers to song in the phrase κλυταῖσι δαιδαλωσέμεν ὕμνων πτυχαῖς “to ornament with famous layers of humnoi” (105), there are a number of gnomic elements: the indefinite pronoun τινα (line 104); the neuter plural adjective καλῶν (line 104), used substantively; and the article with adverb construction τῶν γε νῦν (line 105), used substantively. The force of these gnomic inflections of the lyric passages at lines 103–105 is to express, through the generalizing features of gnomic style, that the poet’s song (the reflexive dimension of these passages) fulfills the principle of reciprocity—with the metacommunicative force that, “in general, this poet fulfills the social conventions of propriety defined in terms of reciprocity,” and that the composition of Olympian 1 should accordingly receive a positive evaluation from the audience. Here we see an example of how “a crucial part of the process of constructing intertextual relations may be undertaken by the audience” (Briggs and Bauman 1992:157). Finally, in light of the case I have made so far for the stylistic three-dimensionality of epinikion, we can recognize the phrase κλυταῖσι…ὕμνων πτυχαῖς “famous layers of humnoi” (line 105) as an expression of the stratification of languages (styles) in Pindar’s verbal art.

Above I described how Olympian 1 has two panels of mythological narrative—one whose focus is to highlight gluttony and its censure, one that parodically deploys the same rules for appropriate speech, which lead to the censure of gluttony—to license the depiction of the god Poseidon involved in gray-area sexual behavior. If the parodic dimensions of Olympian 1 depend upon the tension between tones of reverence and undertones of ribaldry respectively entailed in these two panels of mythological narrative, Pindar seems to undermine this tension productively in two passages near the end of the song:

θεὸς ἐπίτροπος ἐὼν τεαῖσι μήδεται
ἔχων τοῦτο κᾶδος, Ἱέρων,

Olympian 1.106–108

A guardian god thinks of your concerns,
taking this on for his responsibility, Hieron.

ἐμοὶ μὲν ὦν
Μοῖσα καρτερώτατον βέλος ἀλκᾷ τρέφει.

Olympian 1.111–112

For me
the Muse nourishes an arrow mightiest in courage.

Here we might explore how the word τρέφει ( treph ei) ‘nourishes’ (line 112) resonates with ἐπίτροπος (epi trop os ) ‘guardian’ (line 106). Poseidon in his relationship with Pelops exemplifies a θεὸς ἐπίτροπος (theos epitropos ) ‘guardian god’; I cautiously suggest that the language of care in these passages, with its association with food and nourishment, erases the tension between censure of gluttony and non-censure of non-normative sexual practices in such a way as to demonstrate that the power of song is the overriding kharis. Here it is interesting to juxtapose Pindar’s Muse-provided belos ‘arrow’ (line 112) with Ann Bergren’s observation that “archaic Greek thought perceived in the bow and lyre the capacity of attaining an exact mark of sound or space, if the string is plucked properly” (1982:91). Perhaps Hieron’s theos epitropos ‘guardian god’ (line 106) is Pindar’s Muse (line 112); perhaps what makes Pindar’s βέλος (belos ) ‘arrow’—that is, his song—καρτερώτατον (karterôtaton ) ‘mightiest’ (line 112) is art’s charm or beauty, whose accuracy resolves the tensions of sense (as reflected in lines 28–32 of Olympian 1) into the form of design.

Before proceeding with my discussion of Pindaric parody, I pause to make a few points concerning the dialogical relationship between the original performance and reperformance of Olympian 1. There are a number of passages that anticipate a sympotic context for the reperformance of Olympian 1. First, Pindar depicts Pelops as reclining beside the Alpheos River (line 92) in the way that a participant in a symposium would have reclined on a couch (cf. Steiner 2002:209). In lines 100–105 Pindar represents his composition as an act of crowning Hieron, a gesture that would be appropriate to a sympotic context. Finally, the parodic overtones in Olympian 1 generated by the distinction between censure of excess appetite for food and drink and a more permissive attitude toward exceptional sexual behavior would have been especially resonant in a sympotic context. Such passages suggest the multilayered ramifications of dialogism in Pindar’s epinician way of speaking: Pindar simultaneously composes a work of art that is subject to two dimensions of audience, the audience to the original performance and the potential target audiences, superaddressees who might reperform and rehear this song.

What emerges, then, from an ethnographic “close reading” of Olympian 1 is that the practices entailed in praise poetics are modeled on the practices of “low” aspects of human life, the feast gone awry and non-normative sexual practices, and that kharis is the embracive strategy for conduct in all of these fields of cultural practice. Interestingly, then, we see an opposition between food and sexuality, where abuses of moderation with respect to consumption of delicacies of the palate violate the code of reciprocity, but immoderate sexual behavior fulfills reciprocity. In light of this playful manipulation of social norms, we can see how the gnomic style serves to put reverent quotation marks around a less reverent depiction of the god Poseidon, the relationship between Pindar and Hieron, and the performance of Olympian 1 itself. I would stress that if Pindar’s art were merely a matter of projecting present events onto a plane with an absolute heroic past walled off from his contemporary world (Pindar’s present), the well developed parodic dimension of Pindar’s song could not exist. In light of the fact that it licenses Pindar’s art to surmount the risk of conflict with social codes for normative behavior, kharis becomes a less lofty, though no less artful, designation for the power of verbal art. While I emphatically acknowledge the problems of stereotyping and the failure to observe cultural specificity, compared to invoking the gleanings of high art, it more closely approximates what we can authentically understand about Pindar’s Olympian 1 to describe the poet’s use of parody as an edgy instance of Archaic Greek camp—or as Athenaios puts it, Pindar is οὐ μετρίως ὢν ἐρωτικος ‘immoderately erotic’ (13.601c). [76]

The Art of Dialogism: Orchestration

To conclude this chapter of Pindar’s Verbal Art I first call attention to a stylistic feature of poetry, as opposed to the prose art of the novel, that prohibits, in Bakhtin’s view, the promotion of stylistic stratification: rhythm, which serves to unify poetic language and, in effect, muffles any effects of dialogism. Pindar’s epinician songs have complex and thoroughly redundant prosodic patterning, which certainly imposes upon other formal and ideological features of his art its centralizing and unifying forces. Here I cite Bakhtin’s statement on the issue of rhythm (1981:298, emphasis in original):

Rhythm, by creating an unmediated involvement between every aspect of the accentual system of the whole (via the most immediate rhythmic unities), destroys in embryo those social worlds of speech and persons that are potentially embedded in the word: in any case, rhythm puts definite limits on them, does not let them unfold or materialize. Rhythm serves to strengthen and concentrate even further the unity and hermetic quality of the surface of poetic style, and of the unitary language that this style posits.

I think the question of the relationship between rhythm and novelistic discourse is at the heart of any objection to my application of the stylistics of the novel to epinikion. I would urge in the first instance, however, that I am not at all interested in the opposition between poetry and prose, but in the opposition between high and low categories of verbal art, with all the real-world ideological implications that those categories entail. In the second instance, I call attention to the felicity of characterizing Pindar’s kind of artistic mastery as orchestration, Bakhtin’s expression for the novelist’s skill. When it comes to identifying the nature of Pindar’s art in a way that goes hand in hand with a philological method for discovering how that art works, orchestration fits both the object of analysis and the method of analysis: “the real task of stylistic analysis consists in uncovering all the available orchestrating languages in the composition of the novel,” as Bakhtin himself writes (1981:416).

Diagram 2: Ring Composition in Olympian 1

The deviation in the pattern of ring composition at lines 111–112 can be understood in terms of the context of that variation:

          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. ἐμοὶ μὲν ὦν
          Μοῖσα καρτερώτατον βέλος ἀλκᾷ τρέφει·
          †ἄλλοισι δ᾽ ἄλλοι μεγάλοι· τὸ δ᾽ ἔσχατον κορυφοῦται
          βασιλεῦσι. μηκέτι πάπταινε πόρσιον.
115    εἴη σέ τε τοῦτον ὑψοῦ χρόνον πατεῖν, 
          ἐμέ τε τοσσάδε νικαφόροις ὁμιλεῖν πρόφαντον σοφίᾳ καθ᾽ Ἕλλανας ἐόντα παντᾷ.

Olympian 1.106–116

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. For me
the Muse nourishes an arrow mightiest in courage.
Some men are great at some things, other men are
great at other things, but the utmost achievement
reaches its height
with kings. No longer look further.
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

The composer says that the Muse has provided him with the καρτερώτατον βέλος (karterôtaton belos) ‘mightiest arrow’ (line 112), and the root for the adjective is associated with civic power and echoes the occurrences at lines 22 and 78 of the word kratos ‘power’. This word system unfolds over the course of the poem, surfacing three times: line 22, in reference to Hieron; line 78, where Pelops uses it to describe the kind of response he requests of Poseidon; line 112, where the composer uses it to describe the act of composition, which reciprocates Hieron’s kratos as described in the angelia at line 22. I argue that the deviation in the pattern of ring composition in Olympian 1 underscores the centrality of kharis and reciprocity in the song and foregrounds the fact that kharis and reciprocity implicate the audience and its evaluation of Pindar’s composition: Pelops requests that Poseidon respond to his prayer with kratos; Poseidon grants that request, signaling the god’s positive evaluation of Pelops’ words; the Muse grants Pindar the karterôtaton belos ‘mightiest arrow’ (line 112) with which to reciprocate for Hieron’s achievement; as the song concludes, it now rests with the audience to evaluate whether Pindar has effectively displayed his artistic competence. Poseidon’s response, the positive evaluation of the hero’s prayer, which is a model of epinician style (composed ultimately by the narrator, not, of course, by the narrated figure of Pelops), provides a model for the audience’s response to Pindar’s composition, which, recall, Pindar represents in lines 1–27 in terms of a prayer: just as Poseidon’s response to Pelops’ prayer signals the god’s positive evaluation of the hero’s use of epinician style, the fulfillment of the composer’s concluding prayer (lines 114–116) is a function of the audience’s evaluation of the performance, and of its competence, expressed in terms of the principle of reciprocity as modeled by Poseidon. So it is in the rupture at lines 111–112 in the otherwise highly patterned ring composition that we witness orchestration in the form of a verbal counterpoint whose practical effect is to highlight the overall design of the song. [

The Appendix to Pindar’s Verbal Art documents the organization of speech genres in each of Pindar’s epinikia, where it will be noted that other poems evidence ring composition among the ways of epinician speaking. There are two consequences of this. First, the fact that a number of Pindar’s songs [81] exhibit ring composition involving the ways of epinician speaking serves as a control to my description of each individual speech genre: the fact that the relationships among ways of epinician speaking are patterned in individual songs indicates that these five styles or registers are meaningful to Pindar and are local conventions, perhaps even traditional and constituting a domain of formal features that make it possible to identify epinikion as an immanent art (Foley 1991). Second, we can now see in light of this phenomenon of orchestration that, at the levels of medium, event, and composition, rules for speaking thoroughly constitute the epinician way of speaking. As Martin has written with respect to the Homeric texts, we see that in Pindar’s epinician texts “cohesion, continuity, and unity cannot be textually determined. Instead, they flow from a speech-community’s sense of appropriate, genre-bound behaviours” (2000:53, emphasis in original). I would add here that I have studied the dynamics of orchestration only in terms of an ethnographic stylistics that considers how epinikion is a complex genre comprised of simple genres. Kurke has shown that Pindar embeds within his epinikia other complex genres. In Chapter Four I summarized Kurke’s (1990) description of how Pindar’s Pythian 6 evidences features of hupothêkai, which can be connected with the genre of poetry described by Martin as Instruction of Princes. Kurke has also demonstrated that Pindar embeds in his Isthmian 1 the poetic genres of “paean, kallinikos song, Castoreion, didactic poetry, and homecoming invocation” (1988). [82]

In light of the intensely dialogized quality of epinikion, the phrase poikilos humnos ‘elaborate hymn’ is a highly resonant Pindaric description of the orchestral quality of his mastery of verbal art. To cite an example: [83]

          ματρομάτωρ ἐμὰ Στυμφαλίς, εὐανθὴς Μετώπα,
85      πλάξιππον ἃ Θήβαν ἔτικτεν, τᾶς ἐρατεινὸν ὕδωρ
          πίομαι, ἀνδράσιν αἰχματαῖσι πλέκων
          ποικίλον ὕμνον.

Olympian 6.84–87

My mother’s mother was Stymphalian, blooming Metopa,
who bore horse-driving Thebes, whose lovely water
I drink as I weave
an elaborate humnos for warrior men.

Slater’s Lexicon to Pindar gives meanings for the word poikilos such as ‘spotted, dappled’, ‘embroidered’, ‘ever changing, crafty’, and, in the context of music, ‘in varied tones’ (1969b:434). These uses indicate that poikilos has to do with variegated adornment. [
84] Applied to Pindar’s compositions, then, a poikilos humnos is a song of praise characterized by such variegated adornment, which I have been describing as an intertextual web of stylistic diversity artfully orchestrated. [85] Olympian 6.84–87 not only serves as an example of how Pindar describes orchestration as a matter of composing a poikilos humnos but also reflects what we have been considering here in detail, the features of intertextuality that give epinikion its novelistic quality. Especially because Pindar represents himself as weaving a poikilos humnos , this phrase is an excellent description of the orchestrated dialogism that is characteristic of epinikion, as illustrated by the ring composition involving simple speech genres in Olympian 1. [86] Pindar’s monumental skill at orchestration, as expressed by his characterization of his art form as poikilos humnos , strongly reflects Bakhtin’s characterization of the art of the novel: “The novel can be defined as a diversity of social speech types (sometimes even diversity of languages) and a diversity of individual voices, artistically organized” (1981:262).


[ back ] 1. Bakhtin also distinguishes the novel from other forms of verbal art in the following way, which highlights another important difference between Pindar’s performed oral art and the novel: “All these genres [e.g. epic and tragedy], or in any case their defining features, are considerably older than written language and the book, and to the present day they retain their ancient oral and auditory characteristics. Of all the major genres only the novel is younger than writing and the book: it alone is organically receptive to new forms of mute perception, that is, to reading” (1981:3). Cf. Bakhtin 1981:379.

[ back ] 2. For another consideration of mimesis in Archaic Greek poetry see Gentili 1988:50–60.

[ back ] 3. Among the many possibilities, see Nagy 1990:30–33 on the relationship between myth and ritual.

[ back ] 4. For Pfeijffer (1999a:7–11) the evidence of local references in the epinikia “suggests quite the opposite of Pindar’s envisaging a Panhellenic audience,” but fluency in epinician art depends upon reading the dialogue between the local and the Panhellenic, especially when it comes to understanding the constitutive role that Panhellenic tradition played in the survival of epinikion and the athlete’s kleos.

[ back ] 5. Consideration of the reperformance of epinikion often focuses upon the symposium venue. Kurke argues that the transmission of Pindar’s poetry through reperformance at symposia “attest[s] to their popularity with the social stratum that tended to perform poetry at symposia—generally speaking, the upper classes” (1991:5). Morrison’s view is “that the most likely and most common reperformance scenario for Pindaric and Bacchylidean victory odes was monodic reperformance at symposia” (Morrison 2007:15). Cf. Irigoin 1952:8–20, Herington 1985:28, Clay 1999, Athanassaki 2004:339, and Nicholson 2005:11.

[ back ] 6. Loscalzo 2003:99–100 interprets Nemean 4.13–16 as evidence for this reperformance scenario.

[ back ] 7. Herington 1985:26–27 observes similarities between Alkman’s Partheneion and Pindar’s Partheneion 2, suggesting perhaps a more stable reperformance scenario for this composition than for the epinikia. See Stehle 1997:93–100 for an important discussion of Pindar’s Partheneion 2, with comparison to Alkman’s partheneia. Following Loscalzo 2003:104–105, we might add to Currie’s list of scenarios reperformance during regular festivals for songs that may have been composed for original performance at such festivals. Loscalzo’s example is Pythian 5, whose lines 77–81 suggest the Carnea as the performance venue for that song. Carey’s explanation, following Morgan 1993:12, for the lack of explicit details in extant epinikia about the costumes of epinician performers applies to other circumstances as well: “one obvious effect of the lack of specificity about the physical aspects of the première is to elide the difference between the first and the subsequent performances” (2007:199).

[ back ] 8. Herington 1985:48–50 argues that independent of the technology of writing “an uninterrupted succession of re-performances” (emphasis in original) enabled the transmission of Archaic Greek music and choreography into the fourth century BCE (see his Appendix VII for testimonia).

[ back ] 9. Here I am paraphrasing Nagy: “In complex societies—and the situation in archaic Greece can already be described as such—the pervasiveness of myth and ritual, as well as their connectedness with each other, may be considerably weakened” (1990:31).

[ back ] 10. This view then is another way of accounting for the fact “that any given Pindaric composition defies the realization of all the signs of occasionality that it gives about itself” (Nagy 1994–1995:19). See Mackie on “how the future functions as a theme in epinician poetry” (2003:77). Her focus is not upon reperformance or considerations of tradition, but looks at how an epinician artist locates the athlete’s victory in terms of a temporal scope that embraces past (39–76), present (9–37), and future (77–106).

[ back ] 11. On speech communities, see Hymes 1974:47–51. On varieties of ancient Greek, see Horrocks 1997:7–16, whose discussion makes clear that it is appropriate to associate a relatively discrete speech community with each of the major ancient Greek varieties: “The Ancient Greeks, like speakers of any other language, were sensitive to such dialectal differences, and had divided themselves into three principal ‘tribes’: Ionians (comprising speakers of Attic and the Ionic dialects); Dorians (speakers of the North West Greek and Peloponnesian Doric dialects); and Aeolians (speakers of Boeotian and Thessalian, together with speakers of the dialects of Lesbos and the adjacent territory on the northern Aegean coast of Asia Minor).”

[ back ] 12. But see also Bakhtin 1981:61–68 where he augments his description of polyglossia in the essay “Epic and Novel” (Bakhtin 1981:3–40) with reference to ancient Greek and Roman literature. Note especially the following: “Out of the heart of this confident and uncontested monoglossia [of ancient Greek life, per Bakhtin] were born the major straightforward genres of the ancient Greeks—their epic, lyric and tragedy. These genres express the centralizing tendencies in language. But alongside these genres, especially among the folk, there flourished parodic and travestying forms that kept alive the memory of the ancient linguistic struggle and that were continually nourished by the ongoing process of linguistic stratification and differentiation” (1981:67). As I show below, Pindar’s language is much more stratified and differentiated than centralized. Nagy 1979:7–9 describes the process of Panhellenism as “intersocial organization” and “intercultural synthesis” as represented by such cultural developments as the Olympic Games, the Delphic Oracle, and Homeric epos.

[ back ] 13. See Chapter Two, “Epinikion as Event.” Cf. Bakhtin 1981: “the novel must represent all the social and ideological voices of its era, that is, all the era’s languages that have any claim to being significant; the novel must be a microcosm of heteroglossia” (411).

[ back ] 14. Resonating with Bakhtin here, Carne-Ross 1985:18 claims that the purpose of myth is to explicate the significance of an ephemeral athletic victory in terms of the enduring paradigm of gods and heroes. Mackie comments that “the epinician poet praises men of the present, his athletic victors, by likening them to heroes from the past” (2003:46) but maintains that “the past is introduced not for its own sake but for the sake of the present occasion” (48). In an analogous vein, Mullen demonstrates that when we consider not just time (i.e. present and past) but also space, the hic et nunc of performance embodied in choral dancers, “the [central] mythical section [of a given song] as it is being danced will be no less present to us than the beginning or end [of the song]” (1982:88).

[ back ] 15. See Foley 1998, 1999:57–61, Nagy 1979:296–300, 1990:22 and 373, and 1996:59–86.

[ back ] 16. For his discussion of the meaning of Hesiod’s name, see Nagy 1979:296–297.

[ back ] 17. This view is contra Nagy’s claim that “epinician represents the kômos as its own prototype, to be re-enacted in the here and now of the victory song’s mimesis” (1994–1995:24). This difference in interpretation can be reconciled: rather than treating the kômos as an absolutized, global model (Nagy 1994–1995:25) for the occasion of epinician performance, I would say that Pindar’s representations of epinician performance in terms of a kômos are local strategies of traditionalization. Rothwell recently concludes his analysis of literary and plastic testimonia for komastic antecedents to animal choruses in ancient Greek comedy by arguing that the kômos was not exclusive to any particular context, such as Dionysiac cult or the symposium (2007:34–35).

[ back ] 18. Among scholars of Greek lyric poetry tradition is too often conceived of in limited terms as an ossified container of the past or as the point of reference for innovation on the (ossified) precedent of the past. For a recent example of this trend, see Fearn 2007:9–23 and passim.

[ back ] 19. It would be appropriate to refer to this as a process of entextualization, “the generation of textuality,” following Briggs and Bauman: “Even when the content of the discourse lacks a clear textual precedent, generic intertextuality points to the role of recontextualization at the level of discourse production and reception. Genre thus pertains crucially to negotiations of identity and power—by invoking a particular genre, producers of discourse assert (tacitly or explicitly) that they possess the authority needed to decontextualize discourse that bears these historical and social connections and to recontextualize it in the current discursive setting [where recontextualization can be a form of entextualization]. When great authority is invested in texts associated with elders or ancestors, traditionalizing discourse by creating links with traditional genres is often the most powerful strategy for creating textual authority” (1992:147–148). Marshalling evidence that the image of falling leaves is traditional and illustrating how Pindar adapts that traditional image to his poetic purposes in Olympian 12, Nisetich 1977 adumbrates my approach to the Pindaric practice of traditionalization.

[ back ] 20. Hansen describes a similar strategy for authenticating ancient popular literature that he calls “pseudo-documentarism, an author’s untrue allegation that he (or she) has come upon an authentic document of some sort that he (or she) is drawing upon or passing on to his (or her) readers” (2003:302).

[ back ] 21. See also Gentili 1988:51. Martin observes parallels between the episode in the Hymn to Apollo where Apollo leads the chorus of Cretan sailors (lines 515–522) and Pindar’s Pythian 8 (2004:362–363).

[ back ] 22. Note that Kurke identifies the process involved in Paean 6 as “ritualization.”

[ back ] 23. Referring to Olympian 1.35 and 52–53, and anticipating Nagy 1990:66, Hubbard 1985:103–104 argues that Pindar’s concern with a “true” version of the Pelops myth is a matter of “poetic truth, not an historical truth.” Aloni 1998:36 explains truth as a stamp of authentication conferred by the audience’s perception that the language of a given work is to be identified with the language of the Muses.

[ back ] 24. Such a view of epinician epistemology contrasts markedly with Boeke 2007, who attempts to identify the “cosmological assumptions underlying Pindar’s poetry as they are expressed in gnomai” (29); see, for example, her exegesis of Pythian 3.80–83 (27), which I would interpret not in the first instance as an expression of cosmology (because such an interpretation depends upon some conjecture, as Boeke acknowledges [2007:28]), but as a passage inviting the addressee, Hieron, to recognize (we could say, apply his noos) that Pindar adopts in the song the role of an Instructor of Princes, a move that implicitly praises Hieron as an authoritative addressee vis-à-vis that communicative medium. See Hubbard 1985:100–106 for a discussion of what he identifies as the alêtheia/pseudos polarity and Scodel 2001:123–137 for another view of how Pindar establishes his poetic authority.

[ back ] 25. Cf. Mackie’s discussion of how in Pindar’s art “myths or versions of myths are accepted or rejected by the poet on the grounds that they are ‘fitting’ or not ‘fitting’” (2003:73–75).

[ back ] 26. Aloni 1998:25 identifies performance function, performance occasion, audience role, performer-audience relationship, and commission as criteria for assessing performance.

[ back ] 27. Thus Rose argues that “it is plausible if unprovable that the origin of the genre represented an aristocratic escalation in ideological warfare responding to the more threatening aspects of the relatively ‘democratic’ tyrannies” (1982:55). While Thomas 2007 is in agreement with Nicholson that the development of epinikion should be understood “in conjunction with the other methods of celebrating victory, by monument, epigram, memorial,” she disputes the view that tensions between aristocratic and democratic ideologies occasioned the emergence and popularity of the genre.

[ back ] 28. See Mackie 2003:39–76 on Pindar’s strategies for avoiding provoking the envy or disapproval of the epinician audience, the gods, and the athletic victor.

[ back ] 29. Cf. Hanks’s discussion of “evaluation as a requisite to meaning” from the point of view of Bakhtin’s concept of dialogism (1987:679).

[ back ] 30. Capturing such in situ contestation for audience approval, Mackie attributes Pindar’s break-offs to “an oral performer’s anxiety about how his audience will react, from moment to moment, to what he is saying” (2003:12).

[ back ] 31. Cf. Hanks 1987:688 on how the processes of reception and evaluation of discourse are sources of open-endedness.

[ back ] 32. Cf. Bakhtin’s identification of the “novelistic spirit” of works such as Menippean satire, ancient Greek romance, Socratic dialogues, and the Satyricon of Petronius: “contemporary reality serves as their subject, and—even more important—it is the starting point for understanding, evaluating and formulating such genres” (1981:22).

[ back ] 33. Nicholson connects the invention of epinikion with the emergence of the practice of establishing victory memorials (2005:14). Cf. Thomas 2007.

[ back ] 34. Cf. Hanks’s study of colonial Mayan texts composed by native Mayan officials: “In their formal and functional details, the texts reflect a process of local innovation, blending Maya and Spanish discourse forms into novel types. They document the rapid emergence of new genres of language use, new types of action in colonial society. In describing such discourse, one is led to treat genres as historically specific elements of social practice, whose defining features link them to situated communicative acts” (1987:668). If we consider the relationship between original performance and reperformance as an intertextual dynamic, then by drawing from Briggs and Bauman it becomes possible to understand the dynamics of tradition in terms of minimizing and maximizing intertextual gaps (1992:149).

[ back ] 35. This can also be conceived of as a strategy for minimizing intertextual gaps (Briggs and Bauman 1992:149). See also Hanks 1987:678, where he describes strategies that native Mayans of the Colonial Period used to authenticate their reports to the Spanish crown. Cf. Bakhtin’s concession that “every great and serious contemporaneity requires an authentic profile of the past, an authentic other language from another time” (1981:30). Specifically with respect to Pindar’s epinikia, Kurke writes: “Paradoxically, Pindar’s greatest innovation is his self-conscious traditionality. His confident deployment of traditional patterns in the service of a new genre makes him a master practitioner of this type of poetry” (1991:259).

[ back ] 36. I adopt the concept of superaddressee from Bakhtin: “[T]he author of the utterance with a greater or lesser awareness, presupposes a higher superaddressee (third) [i.e. third in line after an addressee, a second party in addition to the first, the addresser], whose absolutely just responsive understanding is presumed, either in some metaphysical distance or in distant historical time (the loophole addressee). In various ages and with various understandings of the world, this superaddressee and his ideally true responsive understanding assume various ideological expressions (God, the absolute truth, the court of dispassionate human conscience, the people, the court of history, science, and so forth)” (1986:126, emphasis in original).

[ back ] 37. In his study of epinician eidography, Lowe’s conclusion “that for the third-century editors the epinikian existed primarily, and perhaps was originally coined, as a book-title” suggests that even the generic rubric epinikion is a non-local, non-native designation for the victory song, applied by convention outside-in by scholars, including the author of the present study (2007:175). See Kurke 2000 for a context-based taxonomy of genres of Greek lyric poetry.

[ back ] 38. I note here that this observation is the empirical point of departure for describing the phenomena of reported speech (Bauman 1986a, Hanks 1987, 1992, 1993, 1996b, Vološinov 1986, and Urban 1989), frameworks of participation (Goffman 1981, Hanks 1987, 1996b, Urban 1989, and Tarkka 1993), and metapragmatics (Bauman 1977, Hanks 1993, and Silverstein 1993) in epinikion, a project I hope to pursue elsewhere.

[ back ] 39. Lines 8–11 are embedded in lines 1–27 as indicated by subordinating conjunction ὅθεν (line 8), whose referent is Ὀλυμπία (line 7), in the embedding precatory speech genre of lines 1–7. Lines 12–15 are embedded in the lyric speech genre of lines 8–11 as indicated by relative pronoun ὅς (line 12), whose referent is Ἱέρων (line 11), in the embedding speech genre of lines 8–11, and which subordinates grammatically the angelia to the lyric passage. Lines 16–17 are embedded in the angelia of lines 12–15 as indicated by οἷα (line 16), a relative or indirect adjective, signaling the lyric passage’s grammatical subordination to the angelia of lines 12–15. Lines 20–24 are embedded in the prayer of lines 17–19 as indicated by ὅτε (line 20), used as a subordinating conjunction. Lines 25–27 are embedded in angelia of lines 20–24, as indicated by the relative pronoun τοῦ (line 25), whose referent is Πέλοψ (line 24) in the angelia. Des Places 1947:48–50 lists relative pronouns that introduce a mythological narrative. See Slater 1983:118 on the function of the relative pronoun in introducing a flashback type of lyric narrative and 1983:127 on the “characteristic” use of the relative pronoun in lyric and epic poetry to transition to historical or mythological narrative. Bonifazi 2004b has more recently applied linguistic pragmatics to the description of Pindar’s uses of relative pronouns, providing an excellent summary of the secondary literature (42–43) and revising Des Places’s list (44–48).

[ back ] 40. On the social economics that informs Pindar’s characterization of the laudatorlaudandus relationship in terms of xenia, see Kurke 1991:135–159. According to Athanassaki, at the end of Olympian 1 the laudator revises this characterization of his relationship with the laudandus as xenia by characterizing it in terms of a closer relationship, homilia (line 116) (2004:322–323).

[ back ] 41. As Bakhtin writes: “The linguistic and stylistic profile of a given element (lexical, semantic, syntactic) is shaped by that subordinated unity to which it is most immediately proximate. At the same time this element, together with its most immediate unity, figures into the style of the whole, itself supports the accent of the whole and participates in the process whereby the unified meaning of the whole is structured and revealed” (1981:262).

[ back ] 42. Cf. Nagy 1996:99, where he observes of Sappho’s description of Aphrodite departing from Olympus in Song 1 that “the action takes place not in a third-person diegesis but still in the second person, so that the potential diegesis is subsumed by the syntax of prayer.”

[ back ] 43. Goffman (1981:44–145) identifies three types of “production format” for an utterance: “animator,” “author,” and “principal”: an animator is “the sounding box in use,” “the talking machine”; the author is “someone who has selected the sentiments that are being expressed and the words in which they are encoded”; the principal is “someone whose position is established by the words that are spoken, someone whose beliefs have been told, someone who is committed to what the words say.” I describe the speech subject of gnomic statements as an animator at the local level of discourse, at the level of simple speech genre. At the level of the complex genre of epinikion, my provisional position is that the epinician composer (e.g. indicated deictically by first-person singular forms) is both author and principal; that a chorus, by convention or in practice, speaking in the voice of the epinician composer are the animators (e.g. as the “sounding box” of first-person singular utterances); other dynamics occur in which the epinician speaker is the author by virtue of his composer role, but the chorus speaks as principal, particularly in gestures of traditionalization. I plan a future study of epinician authorship that draws from Urban’s (1989) still more dynamic model of first-person referentiality. On Pindar’s first person see Lefkowitz 1963, 1988, 1991, 1995, Floyd 1965 (who interprets first person references on the basis of a division of speaking parts between chorus leader and chorus), Felson 1984, Bremer 1990, Griffith 1991, and Anzai 1994. See Kurke 2007 on poetic voice in Greek lyric poetry generally.

[ back ] 44. This passage is an example of what Slater 1984:255–256 identifies as a “gnomic progression” and Hamilton 1974:4 calls a “Gnomic Cluster,” which he defines as a cluster of “three or more” gnomic statements that “occurs only at the beginning or end of the Myth and of the ode.” See also Hamilton 1974:115–116 on the form of “Gnomic Clusters.”

[ back ] 45. See also Mackie 2003:102 on the idea of kharis as “reciprocal exchange.” Bowra 19642:9 identifies kharis as a personification, “the spirit of grace and beauty,” and interprets Olympian 1.28–34 as Pindar’s evaluation of kharis as “the source of the falsity of poets.” Mullen describes kharis as the divine favor “that blazes into appearance for the hero” and identifies a structural correspondence for such effects, whereby manifestations of kharis occur predominantly in epodes, a phenomenon suggesting that dance articulates meaning in epinician performance (1982:100–117).

[ back ] 46. On xenia in Pindar’s epinikia, see Hubbard 1985:156–158 and Kurke 1991:135–159.

[ back ] 47. See Gerber 1982:xiv–xv and Young 1971:37–38 for a comparable discussion of thematic parallels in Olympian 1.

[ back ] 48. Because it is apropos of the novelistic characteristics of epinician style, I cite here the context for the quotation, which concerns the novelistic plot: “The plot itself is subordinated to the task of coordinating and exposing languages to each other. The novelistic plot must organize the exposure of social languages and ideologies, the exhibiting and experiencing of such languages… In a word, the novelistic plot serves to represent speaking persons and their ideological worlds.”

[ back ] 49. A good example of this is the direct discourse attributed to Pelias in Pindar’s Pythian 4. It may be that Pelias is an effective speaker, as Nicholson 2000:196 observes, but if so Pindar is representing him as a good performer of the wrong discourse for the epinician context in which he speaks. Cf. Bakhtin: “The image of another’s language and outlook on the world, simultaneously represented and representing is extremely typical of the novel” (1981:45, emphasis in original). See also Bakhtin 1981:46 on “internally dialogized images.”

[ back ] 50. Athanassaki observes the reflexive relationship between representing and represented communication in Olympian 1, writing that Pelops’ speech is “almost as long as the one the epinician speaker delivered to him a little earlier” in the poem (2004:332).

[ back ] 51. See Martin 1989:43–88 for a description of the speech genres of heroes in the Iliad and 89–145 for a treatment of heroes as performers of those speech genres.

[ back ] 52. Cf. Bakhtin: “The context embracing another’s word is responsible for its dialogizing background, whose influence can be very great” (1981:340).

[ back ] 53. Demonstrating the descriptive utility of an ethnographic approach to style, while lines 84–85 are dominantly in the lyric style, the fact that Pelops is a figure in a mythological narrative indicates that the lines are more accurately a lyric-mythological narrative stylistic hybrid—and this hybridization makes clearer the relationship between terms B and b in the ring pattern.

[ back ] 54. Cf. Bakhtin 1981:340–348 on the framing of reported speech.

[ back ] 55. See Bauman 1986a:66 on quotative frames in reported speech and the verbum dicendi.

[ back ] 56. See also Bakhtin’s observation that, with respect to the author’s appearance “within his own field of representation—important here is the fact that the underlying, original formal author (the author of the authorial image) appears in a new relationship with the represented world. Both find themselves now subject to the same temporally valorized measurements, for the ‘depicting’ authorial language now lies on the same plane as the ‘depicted’ language of the hero, and may enter into dialogic relations and hybrid combinations with it (indeed, it cannot help but enter into such relations)” (1981:27–28). Cf. Hanks 1987:671.

[ back ] 57. See Hanks 1987:680 for an illustration of how, in the case of colonial Mayan texts composed by native Mayans, “the incorporation of quoted speech also brings with it the authority of its original utterance, and so works to officialize the discourse in which it is embedded.” Mackie interprets Pelops’ prayer to Poseidon as “an ideal model for the athlete who would successfully manage his exchanges with the gods” and as a model for the poet, who “acknowledges his own dependence upon the gods” (2003:104–105). Here Mackie is concerned with the connotations of kharis understood as “reciprocal exchange” in the context of an aristocratic practice of gift-exchange, which the relationship between Pelops and Poseidon exemplifies.

[ back ] 58. As Dover writes: “The word kharizesthai is used frequently in the speech of Pausanias in Pl. Smp. (e.g. 182a) to denote a boy’s ‘surrender to’ or ‘gratification of’ an erastes (cf. Smp. 217a, 218d)” (1989:44). Cairns 1977 also connects the erotic application of kharizesthai with Pindar’s use of kharis in Olympian 1, but identifies a parallel between Pelops and Hieron, with the implication that Hieron is the beloved of a god. Krummen identifies erôs as “[d]as beherrschende Thema der mythischen Erzählung in Olympie 1”; in the face of a perceived absence of literary precedent for the Pelops myth in the poem, she draws from (1) vase painting, (2) the story pattern of abduction for sexual purposes, exemplified by the myth of Zeus’ abduction of Ganymede, (3) homoerotic initiation ritual, (4) the evidence of pederastic practice as evidenced in sympotic and gymnastic contexts, and (5) the didactic function of pederasty to reconstruct the “mythical-ritual ‘Expectation’” that would have informed Pindar’s audience’s reception of his narration (1990:184–204). The ancient source for the homoerotic initiation ritual is a passage from Ephoros (F. Jacoby, Fragmente der griechischen Historiker 70); cf. Koehl 1986 and Hubbard 1987:5–7. See further Skinner 2005:62–71 for a discussion of Greek homoerotic initiation and related bibliography and Hubbard 2002:263 on “the initiatory model of the Greek banquet.” The question of the newness of Pindar’s version of the Pelops myth (thus Krummen’s motivation for reconstructing the “mythical-ritual ‘Expectation’” that would have informed Pindar’s audience’s reception of his narration) has received much attention. Köhnken 1974 discusses the then “communis opinio” that Pindar “alter[s] traditional features of a story from religious considerations only” (for a reiteration of this view see Scodel 2001:134) and describes poetic motivations for the poet’s revision of the Pelops myth. Nagy 1990:116–135 argues that Pindar’s expressed preference for one version of the myth over another “is in fact a poetic expression of a preexisting fusion of two myths, where the earlier myth is officially subordinated to but acknowledged by the later myth.” Hansen 2000 identifies Pindar’s Pelops myth in Olympian 1 as a version of the international tale Bride Won in a Tournament (cf. Hansen 2002:56–62), linking the Pelops myth, if not with a literary (radically understood) precedent, then certainly firmly with folk tradition. On folklore motifs in Pindar generally see Grant 1967.

[ back ] 59. Martin includes paronomasia among formal features of proverbs: “Proverbs have their own poetic markings—internal rhymes, assonance, alliteration, binary structure, paronomasia” (1992:25).

[ back ] 60. Steiner 1998:126, who cites Theognis 1335–1336, Aristophanes Wasps 1023–1025 and Peace 762–763, Aeschines 1.138–189, “Lucian” Erotes 9, Plato Charmides 154a–154c, Euthydemos 237a, Lysis 206e, Symposium 217c, and Laws 636c. These sources document, in particular, homoerotic aspects of the gymnasium and palaestra, on which see Dover 1989:54. In her study of the sexual allure of athletes as represented in visual and literary art, Steiner 1998 anticipates Smith 2007 in attributing to victory statues a lifelike quality. Note that, while Steiner sees an affirmative parallel between epinikion and victory statues (see especially 1998:139; cf. Thomas 2007:150), Smith cites Nemean 5.1, Isthmian 2.46, and Pythian 6.114 as evidence of Pindar’s hostility toward a form of victory commemoration that competes with his own (2007:92). Ford interprets Nemean 5.1–3 and Isthmian 2.44–48 as “critiques of monumental silence and stillness” (2002:119–120).

[ back ] 61. Cf. Gerber 1982:89, who also notes the connection between lines 35 and 52.

[ back ] 62. Cf. Hanks: “Thus, even within the organization of individual works, shifts in the speech acts being performed are realized through shifts in linguistic style. This reflects the fact that the two are different aspects of the same utterance” (1987:681).

[ back ] 63. Cf. Bakhtin 1981:51–52 on Cervantes’s use of sonnets in Don Quixote, among other examples of images of style that are parodic.

[ back ] 64. Cf. Bauman’s study of the coloquio tradition, a folk drama in Tierra Blanca de Abajo, Mexico, which includes a character, the Hermitaño, “an aged holy man who is at the same time a blatantly burlesque character,” whose performance in the coloquio involves “a marked disjunction between the scripted role of the Hermitaño as a pious figure and the realization of the role as parodic burlesque” (1996:314–315).

[ back ] 65. Thus I share Gerber’s view: “From the reference to Pelops in the first half of the ring [composition of lines 23–24 and 93–95], Pindar moves directly into the myth with the statement that it was Pelops with whom Poseidon fell in love. This takes pride of place at the very beginning because the love of Poseidon figures prominently throughout the myth and because the analogy will be drawn later between the divine favour and assistance received by Pelops and by Hieron.” Note, however, that in Gerber’s view Pindar’s revision of the Pelops story “pertains to the time and circumstances of Poseidon’s love rather than to the love itself” (1982:xii), a position that Köhnken (1983:72) disputes.

[ back ] 66. On this passage see Gerber 1982:xiii and 80–81.

[ back ] 67. I.e. I here describe local patterns; for the overall pattern of ring composition using the ways of epinician speaking in Olympian 1 see below in this chapter and the Appendix. Applying different analytical approaches than mine, Young 1968:122 identifies lines 53 and 64 as transitional gnômai and Köhnken 1983:72–73 identifies lines 35 and 52–53 as “framing sentences” for Pindar’s address to Pelops and the mythological content embedded in that address.

[ back ] 68. I note here that implicit in my discussion of Pindar Olympian 1 is the view that lines 26–27 do not indicate Pindar’s inclusion of the rejected myth about Pelops’ dismemberment and subsequent consumption by the gods, but that they are a poetic description of Pelops’ birth (cf. Köhnken 1983:70). This is a contested view, as suggested by Gerber’s interpretation that “λέβης must be the ‘cauldron’ in which Pelops was restored to life” after his dismemberment (1982:57). Nagy’s study of Olympian 1 as an etiology of the Olympic Games (1990:116–135) depends upon the same interpretation of λέβης, but he does not “deny the associations of Klotho with the theme of rebirth” (132n89).

[ back ] 69. Steiner 2002:297–302 convincingly demonstrates that gastrimargon ‘gluttonous’ (Olympian 1.52) taps into the poetics of blame.

[ back ] 70. This approach would have the advantage of being consistent with Bakhtin: “Even where the past or myth serves as the subject of representation in these genres [i.e. “serio-comical genres” of antiquity, the first step in the development of the novel for Bakhtin] there is no epic distance, and contemporary reality provides the point of view” (1981:23).

[ back ] 71. Here it is interesting to consider the stylistic parallel between this Pindaric passage and the style that Skinner attributes to an erastês’ address to an erômenos, as exemplified by Theognis lines 1235–1238: “The elegiac verse of the Theognidean corpus is permeated with the rhetoric of control employed by the lover to dictate to his beloved. Normally the erastês addresses his companion like a preceptor, sometimes encouragingly, at other times sternly, always professing to have the boy’s best interest in mind” (2005:55). Pelops does not appear to be advising Poseidon; his mode of discourse is more in the mode of lita ‘entreaty’. However, the blend of injunction (imperative forms at lines 75–78), gnomic statement (line 84), and mythological narrative (line 79–81) is formally parainetic. There is productive gray area in the mode of Pelops’ speech, but it is safe to say that the erotic relationship between hero and god contextualizes this speech and that such contextualization suggests, drawing from Skinner’s observation, that Pelops is speaking more in the mode of erastês than erômenos. I cite Dover and Skinner as authorities on ancient sexuality, both of whom identify a power differential between erastês (dominant, active) and erômenos (subordinate, passive) (cf. Parker 1997:4 and passim), but modifying his earlier stance (1987:9) Hubbard disputes this position, arguing “that the traditional phallocentric reading of Greek pederasty, foregrounding the active agency of the adult erastês as the privileged term in a relationship of fundamental power asymmetry, is too reductive to provide an adequate understanding of its complexity” (2002:256).

[ back ] 72. Cf. Dover on the depiction of the relationship between Pelops and Poseidon: “This passage is the most daring and spectacular ‘homosexualization’ of myth that we have; Pindar’s gods are too refined to digest anything but ambrosia, but never so insensitive that their genitals cannot be aroused” (1989:198). Some scholars interpret Poseidon’s abduction of Pelops as a mythological representation of a one-time existent practice of initiation into adulthood (see note 58 above).

[ back ] 73. Dougherty, for example, writes that “Pindar’s method of praise tends to include the comparison, explicit or implicit, of the victor to an important mythological or heroic figure associated with his city” (1993:95). A central feature of Köhnken’s argument that Pindar revises the Pelops myth for poetic purposes, and not due to religious scruples, is the point that Pelops is a positive parallel to which to compare the laudandus Hieron (1974). Hubbard’s study (1987) of Olympian 1 likewise refutes the claim that Pindar’s religious scrupulosity motivates his revision of the Pelops myth.

[ back ] 74. This interpretation is highly resonant with the following observation by Bakhtin: “Everything that makes us laugh is close at hand, all comical creativity works in a zone of maximal proximity. Laughter has the remarkable power of making an object come up close, of drawing it into a zone of crude contact where one can finger it familiarly on all sides, turn it upside down, inside out, peer at it from above and below, break open its external shell, look into its center, doubt it, take it apart, dismember it, lay it bare and expose it, examine it freely and experiment with it” (1981:23).

[ back ] 75. Pindar describes chorus members as neoi ‘youths’ at Pythian 5.103, Nemean 3.66, Isthmian 8.1, Paean 6.122, and, possibly, at Fragment 227.1. Cf. Herington 1985:30. Mackie 2003:42–43 notes that “programmatic references also describe the chorus that performs the ode as a group of νέοι [neoi], ‘youths.’” Burnett’s study of Aiginetan songs “assume[s] performance by troupes of singing male dancers, amateurs who were, like the victors [commemorated by Pindar’s Aiginetan odes], not yet 18 years old” (2005:8). She then describes an erotic ambience created by the nudity of these choreuts and an audience “ready to be delighted by the sight of youthful bodies in motion (a version of the pleasure one might take on a visit to the gymnasium).” Carey identifies gender and age (male and young) as the closest we come to “objective evidence for the status of the chorus which sang the victory ode” (2007:207).

[ back ] 76. Scanlon quotes Athenaeus as an illustration of how “Pindar’s reputation for being, in Athenaeus’ words, ‘immoderately erotic’…is consistent with the important erotic function of athletics” (2002:224). Carne-Ross 1985:25–30 discusses Pindar’s tendency to describe victory in erotic terms. Hubbard, also citing Athenaeus (2002:264n25), connects “the widespread eroticization of Greek athletic culture…and Pindar’s particular reputation as an enthusiastic encomiast of young athletes” (2002:264).

[ back ] 77. To briefly indicate that the ribaldry of Olympian 1 is not entirely unique to Pindar’s epinician corpus, Olympian 10, composed for Hagesidamos, 476 BCE victor in boys boxing at Olympia, also features paronomasia involving kharis: kharis expresses the reciprocity between laudator and laudandus (line 12); kharis also has the more particular meaning of reciprocity in the sense of an erômenos’ sexual gratification (kharizesthai) of his erastês (line 17); given this erotic valence for kharis, song as kharis in the sense of ‘reciprocity’ (in the form of poetic mimesis) and ‘beauty’ or ‘grace’ (line 78) emblematizes the laudandus’s kharis ‘beauty’ (line 94) as visible manifestation of his kleos, which benefits his polis (lines 95–104). The last two occurrences of kharis connect Hagesidamos’ eligibility for the role of erômenos and the composer’s role: through his song, the composer is at once like a trainer/erastês, who can promote the kleos (lines 21 and 95) of a naturally talented protégé, and like Aphrodite, who can bestow an undying kharis upon a pais eratos ‘lovely boy’ (lines 104–105). What makes Olympian 10 playful and, thus, parodic is that Pindar (1) flouts social conventions for discretion (aidôs) about a young man’s participation in a homoerotic relationship by making the sexual allure of the laudandus a feature of his kleos and (2) puts himself in the role of facilitator of this violation of discretion.

[ back ] 78. See Jurenka 1986 for study of humor in Pindar’s poetry.

[ back ] 79. Illig’s treatment of ring composition influences subsequent scholarship on the phenomenon (1932:55–67 and passim), but his approach focuses upon the structure of mythological narrative, not the structure of a song as a whole, as Young makes clear (1968:33 and 103–104). Young identifies a ring composition pattern in Olympian 1 based upon aspects of content, “superlatives, praise of Hieron, his Olympic victory, a myth about Pelops, a myth about Tantalos, another Pelops-myth, Olympic victory, praise of Hieron, and superlatives” and “transitions between these concentrically balanced topics” (1968:121–123). Slater 1979:63–65 discusses two kinds of ring composition in Pindar, one (recalling Illig) on the basis of temporal “conventions of narrative” and the other, “verbal ring composition.” In his analysis Olympian 1 has the ring composition characteristic of “complex lyric narrative.” Ring composition is fundamental to Greengard’s (1980) study of the structure of epinikion.

[ back ] 80. Currie 2005:75 interprets various verbal echoes in Olympian 1, including that involving kratos (lines 22 and 78), as setting up a parallel between Hieron and Pelops. For him, this parallel suggests the possibility that Hieron, like Pelops, may enjoy immortality in the form of a hero cult. Bremer 2008:12–17 argues contra Currie 2005 that it would have exceeded the bounds of Pindar’s sense of religious propriety to suggest that mortal athletes could become immortal.

[ back ] 81. The strongest examples are Olympian 1, 2, 6, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13; Pythian 1, 5, 9, 11; Nemean 4, 7, 8, 9; and Isthmian 2, 7, and 8.

[ back ] 82. Kurke adds: “Other examples of generic self-consciousness are Ol. 9.1–4 (reference to kallinikos), Ol. 13.18f (reference to dithyramb), Pyth. 6.20–22 (allusion to Hypothekai), Isthm. 6.66–68 (allusion to Hesiod’s Works and Days), and the remarkable fragment 128 c S./M., which lists five different genres in the space of ten lines” (1988:112n39). Appealing to the example of choral lyric in drama, Krummen 1990:137 argues in favor of an approach to Pythian 5, and epinikion generally, that accounts for the ways that a given work can blend together multiple genres. See Race 1990:85–117 on Pindar’s incorporation of cultic hymns in his victory songs, a dynamic that can be described and interpreted in terms of intertextuality. Cf. Clay’s interpretation of Pindar’s description of Athena’s invention of the aulos and its music (Pythian 12.6–12, with particular stress upon the phrase oulion thrênon diaplexais’ ‘[Athena] threaded together the pale dirge’, line 8): “Athena does not simply weave a thrênos [‘lament’], but she interweaves two very different sounds: the Gorgon’s mournful song of loss and Perseus’ triumphal shout of victory” (1992:523, emphasis in original). Carey 1995:97n21 observes that the “tendency to stretch the genre and hybridize is very typical of Pindar.” Currie 2005:21–24 sees the “generic indeterminacy” of epinikion as a function of both the ambiguity of evidence internal to epinician texts and modern assumptions, such as an assumed distinction between secular and religious functions or contexts of epinician performance. See recently Kurke 2007:156 on epinikion’s “anomalous hybrid form.”

[ back ] 83. Cf. φόρμιγξ ποικιλόγαρυς (Olympian 3.8), ποικιλοφόρμιγξ ἀοιδά (Olympian 4.2), ποικίλον κιθαρίζων (Nemean 4.14), ποικίλοι ὕμνοι (Nemean 5.42), and τειχίζωμεν ἤδη ποικίλον κόσμον (Fragment 194.2–3). Nicholson 2000 shows that in Pythian 4 Pindar deploys the polysemous word strômna ‘coverlet’ (line 230)—note, a fabric image, albeit not a woven fabric—to integrate multiple narratives.

[ back ] 84. Bundy glosses poikilia as variatio in the context of describing a lack of verbal repetition in Isthmian 1 (1962:47). For Newman and Newman “variety is the essence of the ποικιλία [poikilia] to which Pindar lays claim” (1984:39). Evocative of the carnivalesque quality that they attribute to epinician performance, Newman and Newman juxtapose the “harlequin’s motley dress” to Pindaric poikilia (49).

[ back ] 85. Pindar’s style need no longer be described in such terms as “le malaise de l’instable et de l’erratique” (Hummel 2001:48) on the basis of this understanding of the artistry of stylistic diversity in Pindar’s songs. Given that for Pindar poikilos humnos describes the artful patterning of multiple registers and that Pindar’s audience would have been fluent in epinician art, I would not attribute Pindar’s perceived obscurity to the quality of poikilia, as Pfeijffer 1999a:22–34 and Hamilton 2003:77–96 do. For Hamilton Pindar’s reputation for obscurity goes back to the Classical Period. After citing Eupolis Fr. 266 as evidence of Pindar’s irrelevance and Euripides Elektra 387–388 and Xenophanes Fragments 20.20–22 as evidence of derisive attitudes toward athletics, Hamilton interprets parody of Pindaric poetry in Aristophanes Birds 907–946 as an indication that, “whether his poems could no longer speak to the world or the world grew incapable of hearing the poet, Pindar’s literary afterlife was severely undercut before it ever began” (2003:17–23). Cole 1992:15 expresses a similar view. Parody, however, suggests an inclusive rather than limited appreciation for Pindar: to get the joke—and it would seem that the success, competitive and artistic, of Aristophonic comedy depended upon humor that resonated with, rather than alienated, his audience—the theater-goers must have been familiar with Pindar’s poetry. In a similar vein, Hubbard writes: “There is no question that Pindar’s odes for the Sicilian potentates were familiar enough to be parodied contemporaneously by Bacchylides (3.85–87) and a generation later by Aristophanes (Birds 924–45). In the Knights (1264–66, 1329; cf. Ach. 637–39) Aristophanes parodies at least two other poems of Pindar. Parody by definition presupposes a broad audience acquainted with the work parodied” (2004:71–72). Diametrically opposing the view of Hamilton, Hubbard even cites Eupolis—but as evidence for Pindar’s popularity at Athens (2004:72). Carey has captured well the ideological implications for the variety of audiences for which Simonides, Pindar, and Bakkhulides compose their epinikia: “[t]he fact that songs, including epinikians, composed by Pindar and Simonides to honour rulers and toffs could be cited and parodied for a mass audience in democratic Athens suggests that knowledge and enjoyment of praise songs for members of the international elite were not restricted by ideological or social boundaries” (2007:210).

[ back ] 86. Cf. Nemean 4.93–94: “Someone who praises such a man as Melesias would ward off a quarrel by weaving his words” (οἷον αἰνέων κε Μελησίαν ἔριδα στρέφοι / ῥήματα πλέκων).

[ back ] 87. Thus my position is contra Hamilton’s characterization of Pindaric poikilia as “[t]he unity of the [Pindaric] text…constituted by an irreconcilable disunity,” a unity achieved by “weaving together two distinct strands, two tendencies at cross-purposes,” the light of praise and the darkness of obscurity (2003:81). As Köhnken (2005) has pointed out, a poetics of obscurity can be more properly attributed to receptions of Pindar than to Pindar himself.