Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Olympia. Sacred Greek city, near the Ionian Sea on the western side of the Peloponnesian Peninsula, that was dedicated to Zeus, king of the gods, and named after his home, Mt. Olympus. Held every four years from the eighth century until the end of the fourth century b.c.e., the Games at Olympia took precedence over all wars, which were suspended so that warring factions and their leaders could attend and participate.


*Pytho. Greek city renamed Delphi in honor of the oracle sacred to Apollo. The Pythian Games, in honor of Apollo, were held on the southern slope of Mount Parnassus on the mainland of Greece.


*Nemea (NEE-mee-ah). This shrine to Zeus was located in the Nemean Valley, southeast of Olympia, near present-day Argos. Games held here included musical contests, whose winners were crowned with ivy.

*Isthmus of Corinth

*Isthmus of Corinth. Held in the shadow of a shrine sacred to the sea god Poseidon, the Isthmian Games were conducted on the narrow strip of land that joined the Peloponnesian Peninsula to the Greek mainland. The modern towns of Isthmus and Corinth are near where these ancient Games were held.

Odes Bibliography

(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Boeke, Hanna. The Value of Victory in Pindar’s Odes: Gnomai, Cosmology, and the Role of the Poet. Boston: Brill, 2007. Discusses ideas about the nature of the universe that are based on gnomai, or “wisdom sayings,” and how these cosmological concepts influence the presentation of praise in Pindar’s odes.

Burnett, Anne Pippin. Pindar. London: Bristol Classical Press, 2008. Focuses on the depiction of fragments of mythology in Pindar’s odes to Greek athletes. Argues that these fragments were a means by which dancers could bring an experience of another world to guests attending the athletes’ victory banquets.

Currie, Bruno. Pindar and the Cult of Heroes. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. Study of Greek culture and religion, focusing on the hero cult in the fifth century b.c.e. Provides a close reading of five of Pindar’s odes to demonstrate how they reflect the era’s religious ideas about heroes.

Hubbard, Thomas Kent. The Pindaric Mind: A Study of Logical Structure in Early Greek Poetry. New York: Brill, 1985. Provides criticism and interpretation of the epinicia; broadens the discussion to explore the issue of thought and structure in archaic Greek poetry as a whole. Includes a bibliography.

Lefkowitz, Mary R. First-Person Fictions: Pindar’s Poetic “I.” New York: Oxford University Press, 1991. A rhetorical analysis of the epinicia, focusing upon the poet’s image of self and how that image is conveyed. Includes bibliographical references and an index.

Race, William H. Pindar. 2 vols. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1997. A good starting place for a study of Pindar’s poetry. Contains a summary of all that is known about Pindar’s life. Discusses Greek athletics and the legacy of Pindar. Part of the Loeb Classic Library series.

Steiner, Deborah. The Crown of Song: Metaphor in Pindar. London: Duckworth, 1986. Studies the imagery in Pindar’s poetry. Includes an analysis of metaphors concerning plants and animals and a treatment of Pindar’s use of Greek legends. Discusses the athletic metaphor in the epinicia.