Pindar's Isthmians 3 And 4: Essays And Commentary
As pointed out by Richard Hamilton, 'commentaries on individual odes are arguably the most obvious need in Pindaric scholarship' (Bryn Mawr Classical Review 1999.01.01). My dissertation is a small step toward satisfying this need. The choice of the Third and Fourth Isthmians has been motivated by the lack of a thorough and upto-date commentary and by the fact that this pair of odes poses a number of interpretative problems with resonances throughout the entire epinician corpus. The dissertation opens with four essays that address the major problems besetting the interpretation of the two odes. The first, 'Isthmians 3 and 4: One or Two Poems?', examines critically the arguments about the relationship between the two poems. Section two, 'Isthmians 3 and 4: Imitation at the Symposium', argues that Isthmian 3 is an improvised piece imitating Isthmian 4. On the basis of evidence from Pindar and Bacchylides, I follow J. Strauss Clay in positing the symposium as the most likely performance setting of this poem. Section three, : Context and Performance of Short Epinician Odes', raises doubts about the now orthodox assumption that short epinician odes like Isthmian 3 were performed at the sites of the games and proposes plausible alternative scenarios. The last section, 'Isthmian 4: and Performance of Pindar's Odes', takes cue from Pindar's reference to the topography of the sanctuary of Herakles at Thebes and the vivid account he gives of the sacrifices performed at the local festival of Herakleia (Isthm. 4.61-6). After examining in extenso references to geographic and architectural landmarks in Greek poetry, I suggest that the nature of such descriptions is uninformative about the performance-setting and is often mimetic, i.e. aiming to evoke places in the mind of the audience rather than drawing attention to what they can see for themselves. My text follows the Teubner edition of Snell-Maehler. The deviations are minimal and are listed in the note preceding the text. The accompanying translation has no pretension for literary merit and is meant primarily to complement the text and the commentary. The purpose of the commentary is to provide a comprehensive exegesis, which may be useful both while reading the two odes from start to finish or merely consulting notes on individual lines and passages. The emphasis is on matters of literary, philological, historical, and linguistic significance. Metrical issues have been for the most part left out. Naturally in a work of this kind attempts to come up with new and original interpretations go hand in hand with assimilation and analysis of previous scholarship. Where I felt unable to shed any new light, I tried to provide ample bibliography on the question. As a rule, though, doxography for the sake of doxography has been avoided.
dissertation or thesis