Among the Ancients II: Pindar and Bacchylides

Emily Wilson and Thomas Jones

In the fifth episode of Among the Ancients II we turn to Greek lyric, focusing on Pindar’s victory odes, considered a benchmark for the sublime since antiquity, and the vivid, narrative-driven dithyrambs of Bacchylides. Through close reading, Emily and Tom tease out allusions, lexical flourishes and formal experimentation, and explain the highly contextual nature of these tightly choreographed, public-facing poems. They illustrate how precarious work could be for a praise poet in a world driven by competition – striking the right note to please your patron, guarantee the next gig, and stay on good terms with the gods.


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