Behind the Camera: Athletes and Spatial Dynamics in Pindar’s Olympian One
ὅθεν ὁ πολύφατος ὕμνος ἀμφιβάλλεται
σοφῶν μητίεσσι, κελαδεῖν
10 Κρόνου παῖδ’ ἐς ἀφνεὰν ἱκομένους
μάκαιραν Ἱέρωνος ἑστίαν
We see “wise men” (σοφῶν) travelling to Syracuse and arriving at the “rich” (ἀφνεὰν) hearth of Hieron. Unfortunately, we do not know who these wise men are. The image of them travelling to the hearth of Hieron, however, suggests that they are not Syracusans. Might they be elites from Magna Graecia who are aristocratic “peers” of Hieron?  Might they, like the hymn, come from Olympia? And, if they have come from Olympia, should we presume that Pindar would be one of the wise men, having come to Syracuse to celebrate Hieron in song? The ambiguity as to the origins of the men seems purposeful. By not clarifying whence the men come, Pindar creates an image of wise men coming from all over the known world to celebrate Hieron, since that is simply what wise men do.
15 μοουσικᾶς ἐν ἀώτῳ,
οἷα παίζομεν φίλαν
ἄνδρες ἀμφὶ θαμὰ τράπεζαν.
We watch a continuous shot of men playing at table, as they sing the sort of songs (hoia) that celebrate achievements such as Hieron’s. The table serves as an important prop in the scene, since, accompanied by song, it denotes hospitality and domestic accord.  Through cuts, then, Pindar edits one brief shot of Hieron with his scepter, and positions it between scenes of longer duration, one emphasizing Hieron’s accomplishment at Olympia, and one emphasizing Hieron’s connection to preeminent music. In terms of the pictorial qualities that develop through Pindar’s editing technique, there is an attractive juxtaposition of idealized outdoor space with idealized indoor space, while Hieron is preeminent in all three scenes. Perhaps most significantly, however, we develop an image of control in various realms. Hieron has control in Panhellenic space, in his local geopolitical realm, as well as in his domestic space.
λάμβαν’, ἔι τί τοι Πίϲαϲ τε καὶ Φερενίκου χάριϲ
νόον ὑπὸ γλυκυτάταιϲ ἔθηκε φροντίϲιν,
20ὅτε παρ’ Ἀλφεῷ ϲύτο δέμαϲ
ἀκέντητον ἐν δρόμοιϲι παρέχων,
κράτει δὲ προϲέμειξε δεϲπόταν,
Συρακόϲιον ἱπποχάρμαν βαϲιλῆα·
The audience envisions the hippodrome at Olympia skirted to its south by Alpheios. As I note elsewhere, the topography of Olympia motivated the image of Pherenikos running beside Alpheios.  The hippodrome was located immediately north of east-to-west flowing Alpheios, and Pherenikos, accordingly, literally won the competition beside Alpheios. And, just as the audience envisions Pherenikos moving east to west toward the victory pole, so too they envision Alpheios moving east to west as he wanders past Olympia, from Arkadia to the Ionian sea, on his way to Hieron’s Sicily, being eager to mix with Arethusa. The audience imagines Pherenikos as a miraculous creature: he is darting along and he has so much zeal that he is able to win the competition without being goaded. Pindar refers to Hieron as a “horse-loving king,” and we realize that Hieron is particularly a “Pherenikos-loving king,” given that Pherenikos has recently increased Hieron’s glory. Just as in the priamel, Hieron wins his prestige here through his association with Olympia, and we witness another scene that has temporal duration as we watch Pherenikos in motion. In terms of editing, the scene of Pherenikos follows after the scene of dining, and Pindar, accordingly, displays two near contiguous scenes with notable temporal duration that redound to the glory of Hieron. Through spatial ring-composition, then, Pindar, at the beginning of the ode, moves from Olympia to Syracuse and from Syracuse back to Olympia in his narrative triptych devoted to Hieron.
ὁπότ᾽ ἐκάλεσε πατὴρ τὸν εὐνομώτατον
ἐς ἔρανον φίλαν τε Σίπυλον,
ἀμοιβαῖα θεοῖσι δεῖπνα παρέχων,
40 τότ᾽ Ἀγλαοτρίαιναν ἁρπάσαι
Pindar stresses that the banquet is “most orderly” (εὐνομώτατον, 37) and occurring in “friendly/dear” (φίλαν, 38) Sipylus. The audience imagines a spectacular scene with the gods assembled around the table of the mortal Tantalus. The near impossibility of the banquet of the gods on earth makes the scene all the more powerful. This second banquet ends in rapture (ἁρπάσαι, 40), and the audience watches Poseidon take Pelops to Olympus to enter upon his blessed new state. Poseidon’s “golden steeds” carry Pelops into heaven, and the choice of golden steeds adds visual splendor to the screen. 
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, τί κέ τις ἀνώνυμον
γῆρας ἐν σκότῳ καθήμενος ἕψοι μάταν,
ἁπάντων καλῶν ἄμμορος; ἀλλ᾽ ἐμοὶ μὲν οὗτος ἄεθλος
85 ὑποκείσεται: τὺ δὲ πρᾶξιν φίλαν δίδοι.’
The scene with Pelops praying at the sea has the longest screen duration in the film, since elsewhere we see only momentary glimpses and brief tableaux vivants. The voice of the omniscient narrator moves aside, and here we hear the direct address of Pelops. We know that Pelops’ prayer will be fulfilled, but Pelops does not, and the passage, accordingly, is the scene with the greatest psychological depth, as we eagerly watch Pelops pray to be able to do something that will win him renown. Viewing the direct address from Pelops’ point of view, we, the audience, feel sympathy as we objectify Pelops’ subjective needs. This is the only inserted subjective moment within the overall objective frame that Pindar constructs throughout the poem. Just as films regularly do, Olympian 1’s narrative moves around a protagonist’s desire to attain a goal and thereby to surmount an antagonist (in this case, Oinomaos) who stands in the way. 
Ἀλφεοῦ πόρῳ κλιθείς,
τύμβον ἀμφίπολον ἔχων πολυξενω-
τάτῳ παρὰ βωμῷ·
Pindar encourages the audience to envision blood-sacrifices being performed for Pelops in the Altis, and he constructs a dynamic scene of numerous foreigners (xenoi) thronging around Zeus’ altar. The audience envisions the nocturnal sacrifices to Pelops that occurred during the Olympian festival on the night before the large sacrifice to Zeus.  The screen shows, then, a night scene lit by a great fire with a black boar being sacrificed to Pelops. The reference to Alpheios too nicely links Pelops and Hieron once again, since, as noted above, Pindar already developed the image of Hieron’s Pherenikos conquering beside Alpheios.
ἔτι γλυκυτέραν κεν ἔλπομαι
110 σὺν ἅρματι θοῷ κλεΐ-
ξειν ἐπίκουρον εὑρὼν ὁδὸν λόγων
παρ’ εὐδείελον ἐλθὼν Κρόνιον. ἐμοὶ μὲν ὦν
Μοῖσα καρτερώτατον βέλος ἀλκᾷ τρέφει·
ἐν ἄλλοισι δ’ἄλλοι μεγάλοι· τὸ δ’ ἔ-
We can imagine purposeful camera movement in this scene through a mobile frame. First we see Hieron’s chariot speeding along the hippodrome, then the camera pulls back with a crane shot to allow us also to view the Hill of Kronos, protruding immediately north of the Altis: the Hill of Kronos adds an image of the geographic sublime to Olympia and to Pindar’s ode.  Perhaps the audience members envision the scene from the south, watching the chariot of Hieron competing in the foreground, while the majestic Hill of Kronos fills in the background. The audience may construct a deep-space composition, in which notable spaces separate the camera, the chariot, and the Hill of Kronos from one another. Via spatial ring-composition, then, the ode ends where it begins, Olympia. Olympian 1, the movie, comes to an end with the image of Hieron succeeding in a possible future endeavor.