The question of compositional unity has intrigued Pindaric scholarship for centuries. I seek a new approach to the question by examining the role which the poet's "I" plays in maintaining the unity of time within the world of the ode. With his daring use of vocabulary and syntax, Pindar frequently creates the impression of his song's willful "escape" from the here and now--the present day of athletic victory--into the mythological past. But as the song whisks us away into myth, we often encounter among its heroes a personage endowed with a prophetic voice (Amphiaraos, Teiresias, Cheiron, etc.). I trace the tendency of these prophetic voices to merge with the authorial voice of Pindar himself: receding into the past in the "guise" of a mythical seer, the poet sends his prophetic voice forth into the future, thereby redirecting the song back to the day of celebration. Similarly, the poet frequently identifies himself with his song's primary addressee--the victorious athlete--who embodies the future of his polis. Thus, Pindar projects himself not only into the past by identifying himself with a prophetic mythological personage, but also into the future by identifying himself with the athlete. Moreover, these projections are closely related to the recurring image of song as the poet's circular journey towards his addressees-xenoi and back home to his native Thebes. Through the poet's journeying along the path of song into the past as a prophesying mythic hero and into the future as a victorious athlete, the Pindaric present retains within itself its own past and future. The Pindaric past is not an ever-receding, ever-dimmer realm, but the nourishing roots of the here and now. Likewise, the Pindaric future is not that which is yet to be but rather the ever-ripening fruit of the here and now. The poet thus maintains the ode's unity by inscribing himself into his song as a central personage and journeying between the layers of time--from present to past, from past back to the future--within the world of the song.
Sigelman, Asya C.,
"Xenia and the Unity of Time in Pindar's Victory Odes"
Classics Theses and Dissertations.
Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library.