Pindar's Odes, blending beauty of poetic form and profundity of thought, are one of the wonders of Ancient Greece. Composed in the first instance to commemorate athletics victories, they fan out like a peacock's tail to illuminate with brilliant subtlety and imagination the human condition in general, and how our moments of heroic achievement are inevitably tempered by our mortal frailties. This edition aims to make for the first time a selection of these wonderful, but complex, poems accessible and enjoyable not only to scholars and advanced students but especially to sixth-form students and non-Classicists (including anyone interested in Pindar's influence on English poetry). While particular attention is paid to elucidating Pindar's cryptic chains of thoughts and to explaining the significance of the myths in the odes, much greater help than usual in this series is given with translating the Greek. The selection, which contains Pindar's most famous poem (Olympian 1) and two particularly charming mythical stories (in Pythian 9 and Nemean 3), illustrates Pindar's range and variety by including odes commemorating victors at each of the four major games.
Stephen Instone is an Honorary Research Fellow of University College London, and a lecturer at St Mary's College, University of Surrey.