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There is still another prejudice against Pindar, which may arife in the minds of those people who are not thoroughly acquainted with ancient Hiftory, and who 'may therefore be apt to think meanly of Odes, infcribed to a fet of Conquerors, whom poffibly they may look upon only as fo many Prize-fighters and Jockeys. To obviate this prejudice, I have prefixed to my translation of Pindar's Odes a Differtation * on the Olympick Games: in which the reader will fee what kind of perfons thefe Conquerors were, and what was the nature of thofe famous Games; of which every one, who has but just looked into the history of Greece, must know enough to defire to be better acquainted with them. The collection is as full as I have been able to make it, affifted by the labours of a learned Frenchman, Pierre du Faur, who, in his Book intituled Agonisticon, hath gathered almost every thing that is mentioned in any of the Greek or Latin Writers relating to the Grecian Games, which he has thrown together in no very clear order; as is obferved by his Countryman Monf. Burette, who hath written feveral pieces on the fubject of the Gymnaftick Exercises, inferted in the Second Volume of " Memoires de l'Aca"demie Royale, &c." printed at Amsterdam, 1719. In this Differtation I have endeavoured to give a complete Hiftory of the Olympick Games: of which kind
For this Differtation, and the learned Author's copious notes in the following Odes, we must refer the curious reader to the work at large, N.
there is not, that I kno of, any treatise now extant; those written upon this subject by fome of the Ancients being all loft, and not being fupplied by any learned Modern, at least not fo fully as might have been done, and as fo confiderable an article of the Grecian Antiquities feemed to demand. As I flatter myfelf that even the learned Reader will in this Differtation meet with many points which have hitherto efcaped his notice, and much light reflected from thence upon the Odes of Pindar in particular, as well as upon many paffages in other Greek Writers, I fhall rather defire him to excufe thofe errors and defects which he may happen to discover in it, than apologize for the length of it.
Having now removed the chief prejudices and objections which have been too long and too generally entertained against the Writings of Pindar, I need say but little of his real character, as the principal parts of it may be collected from the very faults imputed to him; which are indeed no other than the exceffes of great and acknowledged beauties, such as a poetical imagination, a warm and enthusiastic genius, a bold and figurative expreffion, and a concife and fententious ftile. These are the characteristical beauties of Pindar; and to these his greatest blemishes, generally speaking, are so near allied, that they have fometimes been mistaken for each other. I cannot however help obferving, that he is fo entirely free from any thing like the far-fetched thoughts, the witty extravagances,
and puerile concetti of Mr. Cowley and the reft of his Imitators, that I cannot recollect fo much as even a fingle antithefis in all his Odes.
Longinus indeed confeffes, that Pindar's flame is fometimes extinguished, and that he now and then Tinks unexpectedly and unaccountably; but he prefers him, with all his faults, to a Poet who keeps on in one conftant tenour of mediocrity, and who, though he feldom falls very low, yet never rifes to those astonishing heights, which fometimes make the head even of a great Poet giddy, and occafion thofe flips which they at the fame time excufe.
But, notwithstanding all that has or can be faid in favour of Pindar, he must still appear, as I before obferved, under great difadvantages, efpecially to the English Reader. Much of this fire, which formerly warmed and dazzled all Greece, muft neceffarily be loft even in the best Translation. Befides, to say nothing of many Beauties peculiar to the Greek, which cannot be expreffed in English, and perhaps not in any other language, there are in thefe Odes fo many references to fecret hiftory, so many allufions to perfons, things, and places, now altogether unknown, and which, were they known, would very little interest or affect the Reader, and withal fuch a mixture of Mythology and Antiquity, that I almoft defpair of their being relifhed by any, but thofe who have, if not a great deal of claffical learning, yet fomewhat at least of an antique and claffical tafte,
Every Reader, however, may still find in Pindar fomething to make amends for the lofs of thofe beauties, which have been fet at too great a distance, and in fome places worn off and obliterated by time; namely, a great deal of good fenfe, many wife reflections, and many moral fentences, together with a due regard to religion; and from hence he may be able to form to himself fome idea of Pindar as a Man, though he should be obliged to take his character as a Poet from others.
But that he may not for this rely altogether upon my opinion, I fhall here produce the teftimonies of two great Poets, whofe excellent writings are fufficient evidences both of their taste and judgment. The first was long and univerfally admired, and is ftill as much regretted, by the prefent age: the latter, who wrote about seventeen hundred years ago, was the delight and ornament of the politest and most learned age of Rome. And though even to him, Pindar, who lived fome centuries before him, must have appeared under fome of the disadvantages above-mentioned, yet be had the opportunity of seeing all his works which were extant in his time, and of which he hath given a sort of catalogue, together with their feveral characters: an advantage which the former wanted, who must therefore be understood to speak only of thofe Odes which are now remaining. And indeed he alludes to those only, in the following paffage of his "Temple of Fame." Pope's Works, finall Edit. Vol. III. p. 17. ver. 210.
"Four Swans fuftain a car of filver bright,
"The youths hang o'er their chariots as they run;
The other Paffage is from Horace, lib. IV. Ode ii.. viz.
"Pindarum quifquis ftudet æmulari, &c."
which, for the benefit of the English Reader, I have thus tranflated:
He, who afpires to reach the towering height
Four Swans fuftain, &c.] Pindar, being feated in a Chariot, alludes to the Horfe-races he celebrated in the Grecian Games. The fwans are emblems of poetry; their foaring pofture intimates the fublimity and activity of his genius. Neptune prefided over the Ifthmian, Jupiter over the Olympian Games. This note is