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Pindar (c. 518—446 bc) Greek lyric poet


Plutarch (c. 46—120 ad) Greek biographer and philosopher


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Lyric poet, native of Tanagra in Boeotia, less probably Thebes (Paus. 9. 22; Suda). Tradition made her a pupil of Myrtis (Suda) and contemporary (perhaps older) and rival of Pindar, whom she allegedly defeated (once, Paus. 9. 22; five times, Ael. VH 13. 25, Suda). Aelian's statement that Pindar retorted by calling her a ‘Boeotian sow’ is a biographical fancy derived from Pindar (Ol. 6. 90), likewise Plutarch's anecdote (De glor. Ath. 4. 347f–348a) presenting her as adviser to the young Pindar (cf. Pind. fr. 29). Her traditional date has been contested. No Alexandrian scholar studied her work, and the earliest references to her belong to the 1st cent. bc (Anth. Pal. 9. 26; Prop. 2. 3. 21); the papyrus fragments consistently reflect the Boeotian orthography of the late 3rd cent. bc; her metre shows some affinities with Attic drama and her simple style is unlike that of Archaic choral poetry; the papyrus presents sporadic Atticisms (features characteristic of classical Athenian Greek). On present evidence the issue cannot be resolved. Her poetry was divided into five books. She was added by some as a tenth to the canon of nine lyric poets (e.g. Anecd. Bekk. 751; peri diaphoras poiētōn 18 ff.). Though the Suda speaks of epigrams, surviving fragments consist of lyric narratives dealing (almost exclusively) with local legends; titles attested are Boeotus, Seven against Thebes, Euonymia, Iolaus, The Return Voyage, Orestes. The dialect is predominantly epic, with some Boeotisms. Fr. 655 suggests that the narratives were sung by choirs of local girls. The largest papyrus preserves two narratives: the first tells of a singing contest between Cithaeron and Helicon, and the distress of the loser Helicon; the second contains a speech by the seer Acraephen to the river-god Asopus explaining the disappearance of the latter's nine daughters. The style is simple; fluent narrative, ‘objective’ in manner, with epithets sparse and unsurprising.

Christopher Carey

Subjects: Classical Studies.

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