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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 April 2013

Arum Park
Brigham Young University
E-mail address:


By convention epinician poetry claims to be both obligatory and truthful, yet in the intersection of obligation and truth lies a seeming paradox: the poet presents his poetry as commissioned by a patron but also claims to be unbiased enough to convey the truth. In Slater's interpretation Pindar reconciles this paradox by casting his relationship to the patron as one of guest-friendship: when he declares himself a guest-friend of the victor, he agrees to the obligation ‘a) not to be envious of his xenos and b) to speak well of him. The argumentation is: Xenia excludes envy, I am a xenos, therefore I am not envious and consequently praise honestly’. Slater observes that envy may foster bias against the patron, but the problem of pro-patron bias remains: does the poet's friendship with and obligation to his patron produce praise at the expense of truth?

Research Article
Copyright © The Classical Association 2013

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Thanks are owed to Peter Smith, James O'Hara, Sharon James, and Owen Goslin for reading and commenting on drafts of this article, and to the editor John Wilkins and the anonymous referee of Classical Quarterly for their helpful and challenging suggestions.


1 See Bundy, E.L., Studia Pindarica (Berkeley, 1986 = 1962), 1011Google Scholar, on ‘the necessity or propriety that determines the relationship between song and merit’. Bundy cites μισθός, χρῆσις, χρή, χρέος, πρέπει, τέθμιον, τεθμός, ὀϕείλω, πρόσϕορος and καιρός as examples of terms marking the obligation of epinician poetry.

2 Pratt, L., Lying and Poetry from Homer to Pindar (Ann Arbor, 1993), 115Google Scholar.

3 In using the name ‘Pindar’, I refer, of course, to the persona of the epinician poet presented in the odes and to the corpus of his works, and not to the historical author. See Lefkowitz, M., First-Person Fictions: Pindar's Poetic ‘I’ (Oxford, 1991)Google Scholar and Morrison, A.D., The Narrator in Archaic Greek and Hellenistic Poetry (Cambridge, 2007), esp. 36102CrossRefGoogle Scholar, for a comprehensive discussion of this persona.

4 W.J. Slater, ‘Pindar and hypothekai’, Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Boiotian Antiquities (Montreal, 1979), 79–82, at 80. On the convention of guest-friendship in Pindar, see Bundy (n. 1), 24–6; Race, W.H., Pindar (Boston, 1986), 90–1Google Scholar; Hubbard, T.K., The Pindaric Mind: A Study of Logical Structure in Early Greek Poetry (Leiden, 1985), 156–62Google Scholar; and Kurke, L., The Traffic in Praise (Ithaca, NY, 1991), 135–59Google Scholar. For a definition of guest-friendship in general, see Herman, G., Ritualised Friendship and the Greek City (Cambridge, 1987), 10Google Scholar: ‘For analytical purposes ritualised friendship [i.e., xenia] is here defined as a bond of solidarity manifesting itself in an exchange of goods and services between individuals originating from separate social units.’

5 Cf. Gentili, B., ‘Verità e accordo contrattuale (σύνθεσις) in Pindaro, fr. 205 Sn.-Maehl.’, ICS 6 (1981), 215–20Google Scholar, at 219. Gentili, apropos of fr. 205, concludes that the poet–patron relationship does not preclude an absolute respect for truth but welcomes silence over unpleasant truths. I would argue more forcefully for Pindar's truthful stance, since he presents epinician as an inherently more truthful genre because of the relationship between poet and patron.

6 See Luther, W., Wahrheit, Licht und Erkenntnis in der griechischen Philosophie bis Demokrit (Bonn, 1966), 3040Google Scholar, for more on Homeric truth, particularly its visual aspects.

7 Cf. Starr, C.G., ‘Ideas of truth in Early Greece’, PP 23 (1968), 348–59Google Scholar, at 349 and Cole, T., ‘Archaic truth’, QUCC 42 (1983), 728Google Scholar, at 9, who observe that alêtheia/alêthês in Homer refers to spoken truths. It seems commonplace to think of truth as something spoken: cf. Lamarque, P. and Olsen, S.H., Truth, Fiction, and Literature: A Philosophical Perspective (Oxford, 1994), 68Google Scholar, who note that Aristotle's dictum on truth at Metaph. 1011b25–8 (‘to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true’) similarly implies ‘that truth is a property of sayings or something said’ (8). But such a conception of truth, unlike Pindar's, does not take into account unspoken qualities of truth such as trust or reliability.

8 Cf. Adkins, A.W.H., ‘Truth, κόσμος, and ἀρετή in the Homeric poems’, CQ 22 (1972), 518CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Adkins examines Homeric situations of truth-telling and concludes that pleasantness, indicated by phrases like κατὰ κόσμον, is a more valued component of truthful speech than alêtheia and may even denote truthfulness or veracity. One example Adkins cites is Odysseus' praise of Demodocus' song in Od. 8.487–91.

9 Cf. Williams, B., Truth and Truthfulness (Princeton, 2002), 11Google Scholar, where he identifies Accuracy and Sincerity as ‘the two basic virtues of truth … you do the best you can to acquire true beliefs, and what you say reveals what you believe’.

10 Cole (n. 7), 7–8, summarizes the argument of Snell, B., ‘ΑΛΗΘΕΙΑ’, WJA 1 (1975), 917Google Scholar thus: ‘… the lêthê excluded by a-lêtheia is something found in persons rather than things: forgetfulness rather than hiddenness or being forgotten’. By contrast, Krischer, T., ‘ΕΤϒΜΟΣ und ΑΛΗΘΗΣ’, Philologus 109 (1965), 161–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar, argues that the perspective of the speaker inheres in ἀληθής, which describes an utterance devoid of (the speaker's) forgetting. Cf. Detienne, M., The Masters of Truth in Ancient Greece, tr. Lloyd, J. (New York, 1996), 64–5Google Scholar; and Heitsch, E., ‘Wahrheit als Erinnerung’, Hermes 91 (1963), 3652Google Scholar.

11 Cairns, D., Bacchylides: Five Epinician Odes (Cambridge, 2010), on 3.96–8 (pp. 214–15)Google Scholar. See also Cairns on Bacchyl. 5.187–90 (pp. 245–6), 9.85 (p. 264), and 13.199–209 (pp. 326–7); Bremer, D., Licht und Dunkel in der frühgriechischen Dichtung (Bonn, 1976), 161 n. 144Google Scholar; Heitsch, E., ‘Die nicht-philosophische ἀλήθεια’, Hermes 90 (1962), 2433Google Scholar; and Woodbury, L., ‘Truth and the song: Bacchylides 3.96–98’, Phoenix 23 (1969), 331–5CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

12 Slater, W.J. (ed.), Lexicon to Pindar (Berlin, 1969)CrossRefGoogle Scholar, s.v. ἀλάθεια.

13 Komornicka, A.M., ‘Quelques remarques sur la notion d'ΑΛΑΘΕΙΑ et de ΨΕϒΔΟΣ chez Pindare’, Eos 60 (1972), 235–53Google Scholar; ead., Étude sur Pindare et la lyrique archaïque grecque: Termes désignant le vrai et le faux (Lodz, 1979)Google Scholar; and ead., Termes déterminant le vrai et le faux chez Pindare’, in Schmidt, E.G. (ed.), Aischylos und Pindar: Studien zu Werk und Nachwirkung (Berlin, 1981), 81–9Google Scholar.

14 As Komornicka (n. 13 [1979]), 252–3 notes, ‘1) le réel, 2) l'authentique, 3) l'essentiel … 4) le vrai dans toute oeuvre poétique qui s'appuie sur l'imitation de la réalité (opposé à fiction pure), 5) le vrai sur le plan moral de la véracité (sincère, véridique, fidèle) par rapport à l'homme, à ses paroles et à ses actes et par rapport à la divinité, 6) le vrai c'est-à-dire ce qui est propre, correct (right, appropriate), 7) le vrai, ce qui est verifiable, ce qui se laisse prouver par rapport … 8) le vraisemblable’ are all aspects of alêtheia in Pindar.

15 e.g. Ol. 7.68–9 (τελεύταθεν δὲ λόγων κορυϕαί | ἐν ἀλαθείᾳ πετοῖσαι, ‘the chief points of the words fell in with truth and were brought to completion’) and Isthm. 2.9–11 (νῦν δ' ἐϕίητι <τὸ> τὠργείου ϕυλάξαι | ῥῆμ' ἀλαθείας < ˘ – > ἄγχιστα βαῖνον, | ‘χρήματα, χρήματ' ἀνήρ’ ὃς ϕᾶ κτεάνων θ' ἅμα λειϕθεὶς καὶ ϕίλων, ‘and now she bids us to guard the Argive's saying which comes closest to truth: “Money, money is man”, says he who is bereft of both possessions and friends’).

16 Accordingly, the adjective ἀληθής describes both statements (or metaphors for statements) and speakers' dispositions, thus meaning both ‘true’ and ‘truthful’. Pindar applies the adjective once to the herald's shout as a ‘true witness’ (ἀλαθής τέ μοι | ἔξορκος ἐπέσσεται ἑξηκοντάκι δὴ ἀμϕοτέρωθεν | ἁδύγλωσσος βοὰ κάρυκος ἐσλοῦ, ‘the sweet-tongued shout of the good herald, indeed heard sixty times from both places, as a true witness under oath will lend weight to me’, Ol. 13.98–100), which demonstrates the first application of ἀληθής to the accuracy of a report. By contrast, when Pindar describes his mind as ἀληθής (ἀλαθεῖ νόῳ, Ol. 2.92), he applies ἀληθής to his disposition rather than to his report.

My translation of ἐπέσσεται in Ol. 13.99 follows Slater (n. 12), s.v. ἔπειμι; alternatively, ‘vouches for’ in Nisetich, F. (tr.), Pindar's Victory Songs (Baltimore, 1980)Google Scholar, or my true witness under oath shall be the noble herald's …’ in Race, W.H. (ed. and tr.), Pindar. Olympian Odes. Pythian Odes. Nemean Odes. Isthmian Odes. Fragments, 2 vols. (Cambridge, MA, 1997)Google Scholar.

17 Cf. Komornicka (n. 13 [1972]), 238 and Slater (n. 12), s.v. δέσποινα, who posit that Olympia's epithet stems from the function of Olympic games as the true proof of athletic ability.

18 See Race, W.H., Style and Rhetoric in Pindar's Odes (Atlanta, 1990)Google Scholar, 144: ‘[T]his ἀλάθεια denotes “how something actually turns out to be”, a sense it always has in Pindar.’ Cf. Adkins (n. 8), who argues in part that Homeric alêtheia is not very different from a modern conception of truth.

19 In the light of its expression of obligation and reference to ἀρετά, both of which I will discuss later, I will assume that fr. 205 is from an epinician poem. Cf. MacLachlan, B., The Age of Grace: Charis in Early Greek Poetry (Princeton, 1993), 101–2CrossRefGoogle Scholar, who includes fr. 205 in her discussion of epinician poetry and Gentili (n. 5), whose comparisons between fr. 205 and several of Pindar's epinician odes suggest a similar assumption.

20 Stob. Ecl. 3.11.18 (3.432 Wachsmuth–Henze).

21 Cf. MacLachlan (n. 19), 101: ‘As alatheia served the sovereign Olympia in proving/revealing victors (Ol. 8.1–2), so the poet serves the queen Alatheia in giving an accurate testimony of the victory event.’

22 Lack of context obscures the meaning of the phrase, but similar language in Ol. 8.6–7 (μεγάλαν ἀρετάν), Ol. 11.6 (πιστὸν ὅρκιον μεγάλαις ἀρεταῖς) and Nem. 1.8–9 (ἀρχαὶ δὲ βέβληνται θεῶν | κείνου σὺν ἀνδρὸς δαιμονίαις ἀρεταῖς) supports what I have proposed above. On areta and poetry, see Norwood, G., Pindar (Berkeley, 1945)Google Scholar, 49: ‘[Pindar] uses [ἀρετά] both of excellence and of the success won thereby’. Cf. Race (n. 4), 64: ‘[S]ong needs deeds to celebrate, and success needs song to make the ἀρετά last.’

23 Slater (n. 12), s.v. σύνθεσις.

24 Farnell, L.R., The Works of Pindar: Translated, with Literary and Critical Commentaries, Vol. 2 (London, 1932), 452Google Scholar.

25 MacLachlan (n. 19), 101; Gentili (n. 5), 219–20.

26 Pindar is known for his double meanings, particularly in his gnomes. For example, see Nem. 10.54, where the gnome (καὶ μὰν θεῶν πιστὸν γένος, ‘and indeed, the race of gods is trusty’) refers back to Tyndaridae's historically favourable treatment of the victor's family (10.49–54), while also anticipating the theme of loyalty that pervades the rest of the poem.

27 See my discussion of Olympian 1 and Nemean 7 below.

28 For example, Pindar makes chronos the active subject of a verb in Nem. 1.46, Pae. 2.27, Ol. 6.97, Ol. 10.8, Nem. 4.43, and fr. 159. For further discussion see Gerber, D.E., ‘What time can do’, TAPhA 93 (1962), 30–3Google Scholar; Vivante, P., ‘On time in Pindar’, Arethusa 5 (1972), 107–31Google Scholar; Komornicka, A.M., ‘La notion du temps chez Pindare. Divers emplois et aspects du terme χρόνος’, Eos 64 (1976), 515Google Scholar; and Tatsi, A., ‘On the meaning of χρόνος in Pindar's Nemean 1.46’, Mnemosyne 61 (2008), 120–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar. For a philosophical approach to time in Pindar, see Theunissen, M., Pindar. Menschenlos und Wende der Zeit (Munich, 2000)Google Scholar.

29 Following the DK text. Others give εὐπειθέος (Jameson, G., ‘Well-rounded truth and circular thought in Parmenides’, Phronesis 3 [1958], 1530, at 26CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Deichgräber, K., Parmenides' Auffahrt zur Göttin des Rechts. Untersuchungen zum Prooimion seines Lehrgedichts [Mainz, 1958], 22Google Scholar; Fränkel, H., Dichtung und Philosophie des frühen Griechentums [Munich, 1962], 402 n. 11)Google Scholar, asserting that it is more appropriate to the context and complements ἀτρεμές (Coxon, A.H., The Fragments of Parmenides [Las Vegas, 2009], 284Google Scholar) or εὐϕεγγέος (Proclus). Those who prefer εὐκυκλέος cite lectio difficilior, argue that Simplicius' text is the best source for Parmenides (Tarán, L., Parmenides. A Text with Translation, Commentary, and Critical Essays [Princeton, 1965], 16Google Scholar) and observe that ‘the image of roundedness has a rich precedent in the Zoroastrian concept of Truth as associated with roundedness, radiance, and consuming fire’ (Henn, M.J., Parmenides of Elea. A Verse Translation with Interpretive Essays and Commentary to the Text [Westport, 2003], 118Google Scholar).

30 For the visual aspect of Parmenidean alêtheiê, see Heidegger, M., Parmenides, tr. Schuwer, A. and Rojcewicz, R. (Bloomington, 1992), 1016Google Scholar. See also Luther (n. 6), 90–5.

31 For further discussion of δόξα in Parmenides, see Papadis, D., ‘The concept of truth in Parmenides’, RPhA 23 (2005), 7796Google Scholar.

32 Burnett, A.P., The Art of Bacchylides (Cambridge, MA, 1985), 44Google Scholar.

33 Burnett (n. 32), 89.

34 On ἀνάγνωτε, see Nagy, G., Pindar's Homer: The Lyric Possession of an Epic Past (Baltimore, 1990)Google Scholar, 171: ‘… the image of reading out loud can even serve as the metaphor for the composition itself. Moreover, the image of writing here conveys the fixity of the composition in the mind of the composer’; Verdenius, W.J. (ed.), Commentaries on Pindar. Volume 2, Olympian Odes 1, 10, 11, Nemean 11, Isthmian 2 (Leiden, 1988), 55Google Scholar, who collects the various scholarly conjectures about the addressee of ἀνάγνωτε, concluding that ‘the imperative is used “absolutely” and has rhetorical force’; Hubbard (n. 4), 67, who says the imperative is addressed to the audience; and Kromer, G., ‘The value of time in Pindar's Olympian 10’, Hermes 104 (1976), 420–36Google Scholar, at 423, who speculates that the addressees are ‘someone else’.

35 Lines 1–3 are usually taken as a reference to the poet's composition of Olympians 1, 2 and 3.

36 Kromer (n. 34), 422.

37 Cf. Pratt (n. 2), 119: ‘Here Pindar clearly plays on a notion of aletheia as a kind of unforgetting. But this passage does not make truth synonymous with memory, for Pindar also opposes lies (pseudea) to truth here.’

38 Furthermore, the Muse more than Alatheia is an aid to memory. Cf. the Muse's role in other odes as the daughter of Mnemosyne (Isthm. 6.74–5) who ‘loves to remind’ (Nem. 1.12; cf. Pae. 14.35).

For the respective roles of the Muse and Alatheia, see Gildersleeve, B.L. (ed.), Pindar. The Olympian and Pythian Odes (New York, 1885)Google Scholar, 214: ‘Memory is to find the place and Truth is to discharge the debt’; Nassen, P.J., ‘A literary study of Pindar's Olympian 10’, TAPhA 105 (1975), 219–40Google Scholar, at 223: ‘While he invokes the Muse for inspiration, he will rely on Truth, who is the daughter of mighty Zeus, for endorsement of the claims which he is about to make regarding the victor and his city’; Verdenius (n. 34), 56: ‘The help of the Muse sufficiently guarantees the poet's truthfulness … but in the present case, where sincerity of his promise to the victor might be doubted, the assistance of Aletheia provides extra security.’

For truth and memory in praise poetry, see Detienne (n. 10), 47–9.

39 The pseudea here are usually taken to refer to promises (i.e. by the poet to produce an ode) that, when broken, have the appearance of falsehood. See Gildersleeve (n. 38), 214; Kromer (n. 34), 422; and Pratt (n. 2), 119–20.

40 Kurke (n. 4), 67. For a discussion of epinician charis, see MacLachlan (n. 19), 87–123, where she discusses charis in epinician poetry as the gratification of the victor.

41 Cf. Nicholson, N., ‘The truth of pederasty: a supplement to Foucault's genealogy of the relation between truth and desire in Ancient Greece’, Intertexts 2.1 (1998), 2645Google Scholar, at 28, who similarly notes the personal tone of Pindar's truth-telling rhetoric, focussing on the pederastic imagery of the odes: ‘… any suggestion … that this truth is the production of a disinterested eyewitness is belied by the strongly pederastic flavor of Pindar's epinician poetry … [In Ol. 10.99–105] Pindar's testimony is, as Pratt observes, validated by his status as an eyewitness (eidon, ‘I saw’), but this is not the testimony of a dispassionate observer. Far from being the truth of a modern court, Pindar's truth is implicated in his adoption of a pederastic persona.’

42 Cf. Adkins (n. 8), 17, on truth-telling in Homer: ‘Truth-telling – the telling of desired, useful truths, at all events – is to be expected only from ϕίλοι, those who are for one reason or another within the same co-operative group; and even there it is only to be told when ἀρετή and status-considerations do not forbid it.’

43 Detienne (n. 10), 107–34.

44 Note also that ὑπέρβιος appears in the odes only in Ol. 10.

45 Cf. MacLachlan (n. 19), 101, who senses a similar servile tone toward Alatheia in fr. 205: ‘As alatheia served the sovereign Olympia in proving/revealing victors (Ol. 8.1–2), so the poet serves the queen Alatheia in giving an accurate testimony of the victory event.’

46 Ol. 8.21–30 lays out the specific relationships between Zeus, xenia, and themis: ἔνθα σώτειρα | Διὸς ξενίου | πάρεδρος ἀσκεῖται Θέμις | ἐξοχ' ἀνθρώπων. ὅ τι γὰρ πολὺ καὶ πολλᾷ ῥέπῃ, | ὀρθᾷ διακρῖναι ϕρενὶ μὴ παρὰ καιρόν | δυσπαλές· τεθμὸς δέ τις ἀθανάτων καὶ τάνδ' ἁλιερκέα χώραν | παντοδαποῖσιν ὑπέστασε ξένοις | κίονα δαιμονίαν – | ὁ δ' ἐπαντέλλων χρόνος | τοῦτο πράσσων μὴ κάμοι – | Δωριεῖ λαῷ ταμιευομέναν ἐξ Αἰακοῦ (‘[Aegina,] where Saviour Themis, the partner of Zeus Xenios is honoured more than among other men. For when much swings in the balance in many directions, it is difficult to judge appropriately with a straight mind. Some ordinance of the gods set even this sea-girt land beneath strangers of all kinds as a divine pillar – and may time as it rises up not weary of doing this – a land kept in trust for the Dorian people from the time of Aeacus’). Themis personified is the associate of Zeus Xenios. These lines highlight the duality of xenia as a system instituted by gods for men, whose careful observation of xenia-relationships constitutes service to the gods Themis and Zeus.

47 I should note that Pindar attributes the false Pelops myth to two distinct parties: here he faults his poetic predecessors for embellishment to the point of falsehood, which I argue is not necessarily intentional; later, however, Pindar does charge intentional falsehood, but this time on the part of Pelops' envious neighbours (46–51).

48 Cf. Gildersleeve (n. 38), 132 ad 30: ‘Χάρις: the charm of poetry’; Kirkwood, G. (ed.), Selections from Pindar. Edited with an Introduction and Commentary (Chico, 1982)Google Scholar, 52: ‘Here the context indicates that χάρις is specifically the charm of song, as it often is in Pindar’; Instone, S. (ed.), Selected Odes: Olympian One, Pythian Nine, Nemeans Two and Three, Isthmian One (Warminster, 1996)Google Scholar, 101 ad 30: ‘The charm or grace that makes poetry sweet’; Verdenius (n. 34), 20 ad 30: ‘Χάρις: “charm” is an indispensable but ambivalent element in poetry.’ Kurke's assertion that charis always designates a willing, reciprocal exchange complements this particular instance of charis: its charms are part of a poem's gift to its subject and its audience (n. 4, 67). Cf. Nagy (n. 34), 198, who describes charis as ‘a beautiful and pleasurable reciprocity that is simultaneously material and transcendent in nature’.

49 As many scholars have argued, pseudos can refer to fiction in the sense of an authorial creation that seems feasible but is known not to have happened. The extent to which the concept of fiction existed during this period is a matter of some debate. For further discussion see Finkelberg, M., The Birth of Literary Fiction in Ancient Greece (Oxford, 1998)Google Scholar; Gill, C. and Wiseman, T.P. (edd.), Lies and Fiction in the Ancient World (Exeter, 1993)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Konstan, D., ‘The invention of fiction’, in Hock, R.F., Chance, J.B. and Perkins, J. (edd.), Ancient Fiction and Early Christian Narrative (Atlanta, 1998), 317Google Scholar; Lowe, N.J., ‘Comic plots and the invention of fiction’, in Harvey, D. and Wilkins, J. (edd.), The Rivals of Aristophanes: Studies in Athenian Old Comedy (London, 2000), 259–72Google Scholar; and Rösler, W., ‘Entdeckung der Fiktionalität in der Antike’, Poetica 12 (1980), 283319Google Scholar. On these lines in particular, see Ledbetter, G.M., Poetics before Plato (Princeton, 2003), 6870Google Scholar, who argues that ‘Pindar decidedly lacks any notion of poetic fiction’ (69).

50 Gerber, D.E. (ed.), Pindar's Olympian One: A Commentary (Toronto, 1982)Google Scholar, 59. Cf. Pratt (n. 2), 124.

51 Pratt (n. 2), 126: ‘Here again Pindar does not justify his refusal to speak ill of the gods by appealing to the truth or to what the gods deserve.’

52 Cf. Ledbetter (n. 49), 70: ‘in the divine realm, what is morally appropriate coincides with what is true’.

53 Such a definition, of course, may not satisfy a modern sensibility of truth, which, at a minimum should be ‘(1) independent of belief; (2) immutable; and (3) public’ (L. Kleiman and S. Lewis, Philosophy: An Introduction Through Literature [St. Paul, 1992], 92). Pindar's account, particularly juxtaposed against his expressed fears of retribution, does not draw authority from any source other than his own belief, nor is it publicly acknowledged as truth.

Pindar's assertions in Olympian 1, however, arguably conform to the second criterion. A statement that is true only for a particular context can be considered immutable, if it is stipulated that the statement must be understood within its context. Thus, however much wiggle room Pindar allows himself to change his account elsewhere, its iteration here is considered immutably true for the context in which it appears.

54 Pratt (n. 2), 126–7 cites this passage as well as Ol. 9.35–41 and Nem. 5.14–17 as further evidence that Pindar values tact and appropriateness above truth. At Ol. 9.35–41 Pindar asserts that to slander the gods is hateful and inappropriate (παρὰ καιρόν, Ol. 9.38), which I would argue reinforces my interpretation of Ol. 1.28–35: Pindar construes piety and truth-telling as complementary and uses the language of tact (ἐοικός, καιρός) to bridge the potential gap between the two. As for Nem. 5.14–17, where Pindar ostensibly shies from telling the ‘exact truth’ (ἀλάθει' ἀτρεκής, Nem. 5.17) about Peleus and Telamon's murder of Phocus, his allusions to this deed are sufficiently clear to recall the story without providing full narration; thus, in this passage too the poet makes a show of tactfulness while still communicating discomforting truths.

55 Indeed, Pratt discusses the problems of Pindar's claims in Ol. 1 and argues, along with Gerber (n. 50), 59–60, that Pindar's praise of poetry's power to persuade, albeit by deception (1.28–32) suggests that his own poetry could be persuasive but untrue. I interpret the passage differently, as I do not think that Pindar questions the accuracy of his own poetry but rather that he creates a context in which truth and praise can coexist.

56 See Young, D.C., ‘Pindar Nemean 7: some preliminary remarks (vv. 1–20)’, TAPhA 101 (1970), 633–43Google Scholar, for the function of Eleithyia in Nemean 7. Young argues that the opening of this ode is a typically Pindaric type whereby the poet introduces a universal human experience before moving to the specific case of the laudandus.

57 Many scholars discuss the relationship between poetry and memory, e.g. Bundy (n. 1); Kurke (n. 4); Detienne (n. 10), 48–9; and Pratt (n. 2), 115–29.

58 On ἄποινα, see Kurke (n. 4), 108–34 and Finley, M.I., Economy and Society in Ancient Greece (New York, 1981), 241Google Scholar.

59 For a discussion of the touchstone metaphor in Greek literature, see duBois, P., Torture and Truth (New York, 1991), 934Google Scholar.

60 This conception of poetry anticipates what eventually becomes a commonplace about literature in general, that it has both an imaginative and a mimetic dimension. See Lamarque and Olsen (n. 7), 261–7 for further reflections on this literary convention.

61 Cf. Pratt (n. 2), 127, who entertains the possibility that ‘Pindar here slyly praises Homer's ability to confer more fame on Odysseus than he deserved as a positive attribute of poetry, a quality that a patron might well appreciate’.

62 Cf. Nagy (n. 34), 422–3: ‘[Pindar's] tradition … puts a strong emphasis on its association with the visual metaphor, as distinct from the auditory metaphor that marks the Homeric tradition, and an equally strong emphasis on the truth-value of local traditions grounded in cult, as distinct from the synthetic complexities attributed to Homer.’

63 Cf. Race (n. 16), 73. See also n. 49 above for discussion of fiction in ancient literature.

64 The ambiguous focalization of terms like pseudos – does it refer to the speaker's intentional deception or simply the listener's misapprehension? – does not mean the speaker is absolved from blame. As Bernard Williams observes, patently true statements still have the potential to deceive by producing a misapprehensive disposition in the hearer. If a person goes through another's mail then claims, ‘someone has been opening your mail’, he does not lie, but he does falsely suggest a culprit other than himself. This scenario demonstrates that deception includes any communication that fosters misapprehension and thereby violates a tacit agreement of trust between speaker and listener. See Williams (n. 9), 96.

65 Cf. Pratt (n. 2), 128, who also makes this observation. Pratt notes the ambiguity of the pronoun οἱ in verse 22, taking it, correctly I think, as a reference to Homer rather than Odysseus. See also Segal, C., ‘Pindar's Seventh Nemean’, TAPhA 98 (1967), 431–80Google Scholar, at 442, and Most, G., The Measures of Praise: Structure and Function in Pindar's Second Pythian and Seventh Nemean Odes (Göttingen, 1985), 150–1CrossRefGoogle Scholar, for discussion of the close association between Homer and Odysseus in these lines.

66 Carey, C., ‘Pindar's Eighth Nemean ode’, PCPhS 22 (1976), 2641Google Scholar, at 31, points out that Odysseus traditionally has an unfair advantage over Ajax, but his use of deceit is a Pindaric innovation. Cf. Miller, A.M., ‘Phthonos and parphasis: the argument of Nemean 8.19–34’, GRBS 23 (1982), 111–20Google Scholar, at 118 and Nisetich, F.J., Pindar and Homer (Baltimore, 1989), 22Google Scholar. For the various accounts about Achilles' arms, see Most (n. 65), 153.

Most (n. 65), 150, diverges from the traditional view that Nem. 7.20–3 refers to the judgment on Achilles' arms, arguing instead that ‘Pindar may be suggesting that Homer, instead of inquiring whether Odysseus’ narrative was truthful or not, simply repeated Odysseus' report in his own words'. Although I do not go as far as Most does, I do see merit in his idea that Pindar merges Homer's and Odysseus' characteristics here.

67 Cf. Most (n. 65), 152: ‘Pindar is careful here [in Nem. 7] and elsewhere to avoid making the explicit claim that Achilles' arms were awarded to Odysseus only because Odysseus deceived and cheated the Greeks.’

68 Cf. Most (n. 65), 152 n. 78: ‘Only in two other places [other than Nem. 7.23–7] does Pindar allude to the ὅπλων κρίσις. In I. 4.35–36, the blame is explicitly given to the entire Greek army rather than to one individual. In N. 8, Ajax's defeat is attributed to the envious, who grasp the noble but have no quarrel with the ignoble (21–22): as the subsequent comparison between Odysseus and Ajax makes clear (28–32), these enviers cannot be Odysseus (for Pindar nowhere refers to someone who was χείρων than Odysseus) but instead only the Greek army, who grasped the noble Ajax but had no quarrel with the lesser Odysseus.’

69 Cf. Bremer (n. 11), 307.

70 See Fitch, E., ‘Pindar and Homer’, CPh 19 (1924), 5765Google Scholar and Nisetich (n. 66) for an explanation of the body of texts encapsulated by Pindar's use of the name ‘Homer’. Nisetich (n. 66), 9–23 argues that Pindar's varying attitudes towards Homer stem from the varying contexts and occasions in which the various odes were composed. Perhaps so, but I would also add that Pindar finds certain aspects of Homer more laudable than others.

71 On the associations between light, truth and poetry in Pindar, see Bremer (n. 11), 296–314, esp. 301–14.

72 Cf. Kurke (n. 4), 93, who relies on Bourdieu to argue that this metaphor of payment does not suggest an impersonal monetary exchange; rather, the values of the archaic guest–host relationship continue in Pindar's time, even though the language has broadened to reflect the increased use of real rather than symbolic currency.

73 Cf. Pyth. 10.64 (πέποιθα ξενίᾳ) and Ol. 1.103 (πέποιθα δὲ ξένον).

74 Cf. Kurke (n. 4), 136 (citing Slater [n. 4], 80), who argues: ‘The bond of xenia authenticates the poet's encomium, but it also participates in a precise social context.’

75 Cf. Carey, C., A Commentary on Five Odes of Pindar: Pythian 2, Pythian 9, Nemean 1, Nemean 7, Isthmian 8 (New York, 1981)Google Scholar, 159 on κλέος ἐτήτυμον: ‘ἐτήτυμον emphasizes the truth of Pindar's words (in contrast to Homer and ὅμιλος ἀνδρῶν ὁ πλεῖστος)’.

76 See Kurke (n. 4), 140–1, where she discusses Ol. 1.103–5 and Pyth. 10.63–5. Both passages mention guest-friendship in a way similar to Nem. 7.65 (προξενίᾳ πέποιθ').

77 Ortega, A., ‘Poesía y verdad en Píndaro’, Helmantica 21 (1970), 353–72Google Scholar.

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