Money and the Poet: The First Stasimon of Pindar Isthmian 2

in Mnemosyne
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Abstract

The first stasimon of Pindar Isthmian 2 has long been problematic: it appears to privilege past over present poetry and to stigmatise contemporary poets, including Pindar himself, as mercenary. This paper summarises previous solutions to this problem, none fully satisfactory, and, after modifying the logic of the first stasimon, proposes the following new solution. Pindar’s ‘past poetry’ (contrary to the view of earlier scholarship) does not consist of monodic love songs but of choric paidikal enkômia performed at low cost by amateur choruses of fellow paides, whereas his ‘present poetry’ is performed by professional choruses and musicians who were expensively costumed and trained and highly paid. The issue, then, is not the poets’ fees (for poets were always remunerated) but the high costs of contemporary choric performance. Those costs do not stigmatise Pindar as greedy, but they do further emphasise the patron’s generosity in funding Isthmian 2 and its performances.

Money and the Poet: The First Stasimon of Pindar Isthmian 2

in Mnemosyne

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