The Greek poet Pindar (c. 518-428 BC) composed victory odes for winners in the ancient Games, including the Olympics. He celebrated the victories of athletes competing in foot races, horse races, boxing, wrestling, all-in fighting and the pentathlon, and his Odes are fascinating not only for their poetic qualities, but for what they tell us about the Games. Pindar praises the victor by comparing him to mythical heroes and the gods, but also reminds the athlete of his human limitations. The Odes contain versions of some of the best known Greek myths, such as Jason and the Argonauts, and Perseus and Medusa, and are a valuable source for insights on Greek religion and ethics. Pindar's startling use of language, including striking metaphors, bold syntax, and enigmatic expressions, makes reading his poetry a uniquely rewarding experience.
Anthony Verity's lucid translations stay as close as they can to the original Greek, without sacrificing readability. The text is complemented by a succinct introduction by Stephen Instone outlining the essential nature of Pindar's Odes as well as explaining the nature of the Games, the events, and the participants. Explanatory notes help the reader to navigate Pindar's sometimes compressed and allusive expressive technique.