Pindar has for centuries been the least understood and appreciated of the great classical poets, for the type of composition by which he is now chiefly represent—the ode written on commission to praise a victorious athlete—does not seem to fit our notions of what a lyric poem should be. This book by D.S. Carne-Ross sets out to recover Pindar as a vital presence in the Western tradition. Through critical discussion, comparison with more familiar poets past and present, and selective translation, Carne-Ross demonstrates the craftsmanship and beauty of a Pindaric ode. The first chapter examines the form of the victory ode—an inherited form with its required, recurrent features—and shows how, in Pindar’s hands, its disparate elements compose a complex, harmonious whole. The rest of the book consists of close readings of a dozen odes illustrating different aspects of Pindar’s genius and the wide range of experience that this seemingly limited genre can cover. Written to convey to the general reader the skill and power of Pindar’s poetry, this book assumes no knowledge of the specialist literature. However, a number of Carne-Ross’s interpretations do break fresh critical ground, and thus the book will also be of interest to scholars in the field.
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