Pindar (Gr. ), a Greek lyric poet, born in Thebes or in the village of Cynos-cephalse about 520 B. C, died about 440. The family to which he belonged was one of the noblest in Thebes. Pindar in his boyhood received lessons on the flute from the player Scopelinus, and his father sent him to Athens for instruction in the art, where he remained until about the age of 20. After his return to Thebes he received instructions from two poetesses, Myrtis and Corinna of Tanagra. Plutarch says the latter "advised him to introduce mythical narratives into his poems, as the music, rhythm, and elevated language were properly designed simply to adorn the subject matter. In accordance with her recommendation, he wrote a hymn, still extant in part, which was filled with nearly all the Theban mythology; whereupon she said: ' We ought to sow with the hand, and not with the whole sack.' " There is still extant an epinician ode written by Pindar in his 20th year in honor of Hippocles, a victor in the Pythian games. He rapidly acquired great reputation, and the different states of Greece and the tyrants of the colonies on important occasions applied to him to write choral songs. About 473 he visited Syracuse, where he remained about four years.
The poems of Pindar consisted of epinicia or triumphal odes, hymns to the gods, paeans, dithyrambs, odes for processions, songs of maidens, mimic dancing songs, drinking songs, dirges, and encomia or panegyrics on rulers. The only entire poems that have come down to us are the Epinicia, which were all written in honor of victories gained in the public games, with the exception of the 11th Nemean, composed when Aristagoras was installed in the office of prytanis at Tenedos. The triumphal odes are divided into four books, corresponding to the four great public games of Greece. The mythical element is always prominent in them. Pindar was himself a strict worshipper of the gods, and appears to have placed credence in the marvellous and supernatural accounts of Greek legendary history; but he either formally repudiates or does not recount the quarrels between the divinities, and all stories representing the gods as guilty of wicked acts. Although the odes were sung by a chorus, the poet was supposed to speak in the first person, and Pindar availed himself of this circumstance to give advice to the victor, to defend himself against the attacks of enemies, and to assail rival poets.
The editio princeps of Pindar was printed at the Aldine press of Venice (8vo, 1513), along with Oallimachus, Dionysius, and Lycophron. The best editions are those of August Bockh (2 vols. 4to, Leipsic, (1811-21), containing a commentary and dissertations upon the music, metres, and lyric poetry of the Greeks, and of Mommsen (Berlin, 1864-6), who also translated the poems of Pindar. There are English translations by the Eev. H. F. Oary (London, 1833), F. A. Pa-ley (1869), and Myers (1875). - See Villemain, Essai sur le genie de Pindar (Paris, 1859); Mommsen, Kritilc, Exegese und Versabtheilung bei Pindar (Oldenburg, 1863); Camarda, Osser-vazioni alleparole di Pindaro (Messina, 1873); and Lehr, Die Pindarscholien (Leipsic, 1874).