1542 Pindar Odes In Greek Classic Poetry Olympic Games Fine Renaissance Binding

1542 Pindar Odes In Greek Classic Poetry Olympic Games Fine Renaissance Binding

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1542 Pindar Odes In Greek Classic Poetry Olympic Games Fine Renaissance Binding:

[Early Printing - Greek Typography] [Greek Classics] [Lyric Poetry - Ancient Greece] [Demetrius Triclinius]
[History of Sport - Panhellenic Games - Olympian, Pythian, Isthmian & Nemean]

Printed in Frankfurt by Peter Brubach, 1542.
Text in the original ancient Greek.
Four parts in one volume, each with its own title-page, but with continuous foliation.

This VERY SCARCE AND BEAUTIFULLY PRINTED EDITION of Pindar's Odes is based on the celebrated 1515 edition printed in Rome by Zacharias Kallierges, with variant readings from the 1513 Aldus' Editio Princeps given in the printed marginalia ("Copie de l'édition de Calliergi, enrichie de quelques variantes tirées de l'édition d'Alde." - Brunet). Includes extensive scholia by Demetrius Triclinius, a 14th-century Byzantine scholar, a native of Thessalonica.

Like in the 1515 Kallierges edition, several pages of our edition are printed in red and black, with some of the woodcut decorative headpieces and initials printed in red achieving a very elegant typographical layout.

Pindar (Greek: Πίνδαρος; Latin: Pindarus) (518 BC, Cynoscephalae, Boeotia - ca. 440 BC, Argos), was the greatest lyric poet of ancient Greece and the master of epinicia, or choral odes. According to Quintilian, a Roman rhetorician of 1st century AD, "Of the nine lyric poets [of ancient Greece], Pindar is by far the greatest, in virtue of his inspired magnificence, the beauty of his thoughts and figures, the rich exuberance of his language and matter, and his rolling flood of eloquence, characteristics which, as Horace rightly held, make him inimitable."

Of the canonical nine lyric poets of ancient Greece, Pindar's work is the best preserved.

Although fragments of Pindar's poems in all of the Classical choral forms are extant, it is the collection of four books of his epinician odes that has influenced poets of the Western world since their publication by Aldus Manutius in 1513. Each of the books is devoted to one of the great series of Greek Classical games: the Olympian, Pythian, Isthmian, and Nemean (the Panhellenic festivals held, respectively, at Olympia, Delphi, Corinth and Nemea).

Celebrating the victory of a winner with a performance of choral chant and dance, these epinician odes are elaborate, complex, rich in metaphor and intensely emotive language. They reveal Pindar's sense of vocation as a poet dedicated to preserving and interpreting great deeds and their divine values. The metaphors, myths, and gnomic sayings that ornament the odes are often difficult to grasp because of the rapid shifts of thought and the sacrifice of syntax to achieving uniform poetic colour. Pindar's odes capture something of the prestige and the aristocratic grandeur of the moment of victory. In a few odes however much older victories, and even victories in lesser games, are celebrated, often as a pretext for addressing other issues or achievements.

Pindar was of noble birth, possibly belonging to a Spartan family, the Aegeids, though the evidence for this is inconclusive. His parents, Daiphantus and Cleodice, survive only as names; his uncle Scopelinus, a skilled aulos player, doubtless helped with Pindar's early musical training. The family possessed a town house in Thebes (to be spared by express command of Alexander the Great in the general destruction of that city by the Macedonians in 335 BC). Such a background would have given Pindar a ready entrée into aristocratic circles in other Greek cities.

The ancient biographical tradition reports that as a young man Pindar went to Athens to complete and refine his poetic education. It is unclear whether he studied there with Lasus of Hermione, who had introduced important innovations into the dithyramb, or whether he learned from him at second hand. At any rate, in 497 or 496 Pindar, scarcely more than 20 years of age, won first place in the dithyrambic competition at the Great Dionysia, an event that had been introduced in 508.

Pindar's poetry borrowed certain fundamental characteristics from the cultural traditions of his native Boeotia, a region that remained rather at the margins of political and economic trends of the Archaic (c. 650-480) and Classical (c. 450-323) periods. His poetry evinces a conservative attitude of absolute adherence to aristocratic values, a rigorous sense of piety, and a familiarity with the great mythological heritage that descended from the Mycenaean period (c. 16th-12th century BC) and achieved a first systematic presentation, significantly, in the work of Pindar's Boeotian predecessor Hesiod at the end of the 8th century. Ancient authorities make Pindar the contemporary of the Boeotian poet Corinna, who was supposed to have beaten him in poetic competitions and to have advised him, in reference to his tendency to overuse myth, "to sow with the hand and not with the whole sack," in revenge or which Pindar allegedly called Corinna a "Boeotian sow".

Pindar employed the triadic structure attributed to Stesichorus (7th and 6th centuries BC), consisting of a strophe (two or more lines repeated as a unit) followed by a metrically harmonious antistrophe, concluding with a summary line (called an epode) in a different metre. These three parts corresponded to the movement of the chorus to one side of the stage, then to the other, and their pause midstage to deliver the epode.

Pindar's poetic style is very distinctive, even when the peculiarities of the genre are set aside. The odes typically feature a grand and arresting opening, often with an architectural metaphor or a resounding invocation to a place or goddess. He makes rich use of decorative language and florid compound adjectives. Sentences are compressed to the point of obscurity, unusual words and periphrases give the language an esoteric quality, and transitions in meaning often seem erratic, the images seem to burst out - it is a style that sometimes baffles but also makes his poetry vivid and unforgettable.

According to Gilbert Highet (The Classical Tradition, p.225), Pindar's odes were animated by "one burning glow which darted out a shower of brilliant images, leapt in a white-hot spark across gaps unbridgeable by thought, passed through a commonplace leaving it luminous and transparent, melted a group of heterogeneous ideas into a shortlived unity and, as suddenly as a flame, died."

Bibliographic references:

Adams P-1223; Brunet IV, 658; Schweiger I, 234; Ebert, Bibl. Dict. III, no.16852.

Physical description:

Four parts in one volume. Thick quarto, textblock measures 203 x 140 mm. In fine mid 16th-century blind-paneled calf over wooden boards: covers with lozenge centerpieces composed of four fleur-de-lys stamps, framed with panels incorporating a roll of portrait roundels. Sympathetic early reback (done perhaps in 18th-century), spine with raised bands, blind-tooled in compartments. Two brass catches (clasps perished).

Foliation: 370, (2 blanks) leaves (forming 744 pages).
Signatures: a-y8.4 z8 aa-ss4.8 tt8 uu-zz4.8 aaa-ooo4.8 ppp8 (cc4, tt8, iii4, and ppp7,8 are integral blanks and present; the first three being included in foliation).
Bound without the final quire qqq6 containing five leaves of a Latin Index and Errata, and the final blank. Otherwise, COMPLETE with the entire text of Pindar and all the scholia present. Brunet notes that the Errata are not present in all copies.

Main title page printed in red and black, with woodcut border of floral ornaments and putti. Pythian, Nemean and Isthmian odes have special divisional title-pages, the first two in red and black, the first and third with woodcut borders, the second and third with woodcut vignettes of Janus (the two-faced god of beginnings and transitions in Roman mythology).

Several text-pages also printed in red and black. Some decorative woodcut head-pieces and initials, mostly floriated. Head-pieces and/or woodcut initials on leaves a7r, dd1v, dd4r, uu1v and uu3v are printed in red.

The text of Pindar is prefaced by some introductory essays: on the life of Pindar, on the structure and meter of ancient Greek poetry, etc.

Scholia by Triclinius on the Olympan odes occupy leaves r3r-cc3v.


Christopher Bowater, of Balliol College, Oxford, who took B.A. there in 1574 and M.A. 1577, with his neat 16th-century ownership signature to top margin of the main title-page.


Very Good antiquarian condition. Binding rubbed with some minor scratches and a few small wormholes; with wear to edges. Clasps perished (original brass catches remain); sympathetically rebacked at an early date (18th century?) with endpapers replaced, and with a more recent discreet repair to front joint, spine somewhat worn. A marginal closed tear to gg2 without loss. Intermittent marginal dampstaining here and there, not affecting text. Two opening leaves (including title), two final leaves and the following two blanks with outer bottom corners slightly worn and frayed, without loss to text. Occasional minor soiling. Generally, a very clean and bright volume with wide margins, excellent impression of text and in a very pleasing Renaissance binding.

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1542 Pindar Odes In Greek Classic Poetry Olympic Games Fine Renaissance Binding:

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