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the twenty-second of this month happens the autumnal equinox, at which period the days and nights are equal all over the earth. 29. This, as well as the vernal equinox, often attended with heavy storms of wind and rain, which throw down much of the fruit yet remaining on the trees. 30. At the end of the month the leaves of many trees lose their given colours, and begin their grave autumnal tints, indicative of the approaching desolation of winter.
LIFE AND WRITINGS OF PINDAR,
THE CELEBRATED GRECIAN POET. INDAR, the Prince of Lyric Poets, was a native
of about the 76th Olympiad, or 520 years before Christ, His family was of the lowest class. His father Scopelinus (or Diophantus) being of the lowest order of muficians. Many strange events are recorded of him at his birth, as we are told of Homer and Virgil, which, for the sake of veracity, is here reje&ted. From his earliest years he was trained by his father to the study of music; and Lafus Hermiones is mentioned as his tutor in poetry, though the meanness of his father's fortune, it is thought, deprived him of the excellent ad. vantages of a learned education ; on which occasion, Voffius says, he used to boast that nature was his only guide in poetry. Whereas his rivals were obliged to have recourse to art; on which account he used to compare himself to the foaring eagle, and the creeping tribe of poets to base croaking ravens. His genius, naturally wild and luxuriant, was corrected by the lessons of his fair countrywomen, Myrtis or Myíto, and Corinna ; whose poetical productions had acquired unrivalled fame, not only in Thebes, but in many other cities of Greece.
His first public efforts were displayed at the musical contests celebrated in his native country, where, after conquering Myrtis, he was five times overcome by Co. rinna; but if we may believe the voice of scandal, Co. rinna owed her repeated victories more to the charms of her beauty, (for she is said to have been the handsomest woman of her age) than to the superiority of her genius. But in the four public assemblies where females were not admitted, he carried off the prize from every competitor.
The glory his poetry both acquired and bestowed at Olympia, made the greatest generals and statesmen ambitious of the honour of his acquaintance. To the tem. ple of the Gods, and especially the celebrated temple of Delphi, his hymns and poeans drew an amazing concourse of strangers and Greeks. The priests, prophets, and other ministers of Apollo, sensible of the benefit they derived from his musical reputation, repaid the merit of his services by erecting him a statue in the most conspicuous part of the temple, where he used to fit on an iron stooi, and recite his verses to the honour of Apollo. They likewise declared by their oracle, Pythia, that Pindar Thould be honoured by one half of the first-fruit offerings, annually presented by the devout retainers of the Delphic shrine. At the Hermonian felo tival, a portion of the sacred victim was appropriated, in the time of Plutarch, to the descendants of this poet.
Thus was Pindar, during his life-time, associated to the honours of a God, and after his death was treated with every mark of respect that public admiration can beitow; for the beautiful monument erected to him in the Hippodrome of Thebes, was a source of admiration after the revolution of six centuries. The inveterare hoftility of the Spartans, when they destroyed the ca.pital of their ancient and cruelest enemies, spared the house of Pindar, which was equally respected in a future age, by the warlike and impctuous son of Philip, and the giddy triumph of his Macedonian captains.
And the ruins of this house were to be seen in the time of Pausanias, who lived under Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, the Stoic philosopher and Emperor of the Romans, who flourished about 161 years after Christ ; so that this cottage stood at least 681 years.
By favouring and applauding the Athenians, who were enemies to the Theban state, he incurred the resentment of his countrymen, who laid him under a fe. vere fine ; but the city of Athens made him a present of double the fine, and erected a statue to his honour. The indignity of his defeat by Corinna, did not discou. sage Hiero, King of Syracuse, from employing Pindar's mufe in celebrating his victories in the Grecian games. This prince obtained the prize in the Olympic and Pythic games, and was also victor in the charior course. These successes were celebrated by the poet, who bestowed the highest praises upon his patron, to whom he ascribed all the virtues of a wise and excellent prince. He made it his prayer to the Gods, that they would bestow upon him all the happinefs man was capable of ;--they obliged him with an easy death; for he died suddenly in the public theatre, as he was leaning on the knees of a favourite boy. Thus died this celebrated poet in the 66th, though some say 8oth year of his age, in the 86th Olympiad.
The lyric poetry of the Greeks united the pleasures of the ear, of the eye, and of the understanding. In the various natures of entertainment confifted its efler. tial merit and perfection; and he only could be entitled “the Prince of Lyric Poets,” whose verses happily conspired with the general tendency of this complicated exhibition ; by the universal consent of antiquity, this poet was Pindar, who, ever since the eulogium of Ho. race, has been extolled for the brilliancy of his imagination, the figurative boldnets of his diction, the fire, animation, and enthusiasm of his genius.
Pindarum quisquis ftudet emulari, &c. &c*.
HORACE, 1. 4. Ode 2. Quintilian savs, that Pindar was, beyond all dispute, the most confiderable of all the nine Lyric poets; whether we consider his valt genius, or the beauty of his sentences and figures, for the abundance of his thoughts and the agreeable variety of his expressions : and that in respect of his great eloquence, which flows like a torrent, Horace might well think it was imporfible for any inan ever to imitate him.
Rapin, in his reflections on Aristotle's book of Poesy, remarks, that Pindar was great in his designs, vast in his thoughts, bold in his imaginations, happy in his exprellions, and eloquent in his discourse ; but, as Rapin observes, his great vivacity hurries him, sometimes, beyond his judgment; his panegyrics are perpetual di. gressions, where, rambling from his subject, he carries the reader from fable to fable, from illusion to illusion, and from one chimæra to another. But this irregularity is a part of the character of the ode, whose nature and genius require transport.
Gaspar Barthius calls Pindar an ingenious author, and one who pofTeffed an indifferent good stock of learning, with which character Voffius likewise agrees.
“ The writings of Pindar,” says Meimoth, "abound with grandeur, sublimity, and rapture, and are as a standard of the greatest elevation and transport to which poetry can possibly advance. By his pompous
and daring expretlions,and by his measures, pathos, and beauciful irregularity; he has so successfully triumphed over all other writers, as to be deservedly styled a perfect master of the sublime, and Prince of Lyric Poets.
* The panegyrics bestowed upon Pindar," says Gillies," have, generally, more their regularity and wildness of the ode, than the coldness of criticisin. Great
* Mr. Cowley has admirably paraphrased this encomium, which cannot be here inserted on account of its length.
as his ideas are, Pindar is less distinguished by the sublimity of his thoughts and sentiments, than by the grandeur of his language and expreffion; and that his
inimitable" excellence consists rather in the energy, propriety, and magnificence of his style, fo fingularly fitted out to affociate with the lengthened tones of mu.. fic and the figured movements of the dance. The uniform cadence, the smooth volubility, and the light importance of ordinary composition, are extremely ill adapted to this association, which bringing every single word into notice, and subjecting it to observation and remark, muft expose its natural insignificance and poverty; but as much as the language of ordinary writers would lose, that of Pindar muft gain, by such an examination; his words are chofen with an habitual care, and poffeís a certain dignity of weight, which, tbe more they are contemplated, the more they are admired.--It is this magnificence of diction, those compound epithets, and those glowing expressions, which the coldness of criticism has condemned as extravagant, that form the transcendant merit of the Pindaric style, and distinguith it more than the general flow of the versification, which is commonly so free, that it bears tefs rtfemblance to poetry than to a beautiful and harmonious profe. The majesty of composition equalled, and in the opinion of Dionyfius, even furpassed the value of the materials : he adds, “ that Pindar gives his words a certain firmness and folidity of consistence, separated them át wide intervals, placed them on a broad basis, and raised them to a lofty eminence, from which they darted those irradiations of splendour which astonished the most diftant beholder.” But,” says Gillies, “ it must be confidered, that the works of Pindar are recited now to a great disadvantage. They were anciently fung to large assemblies of men, accompanied with music and dancing, by which they were formerly ennobled and adorned. They are now read in the clofet without patriotic emotion, and without personal intereft. Such VOL. VIII.