Pindar – The road of Truth

Here we present and analyze an excerpt from Pindar, the lyric poet.


Pythionikos III, Verses 103-111 & 114-115

In ancient Greek: «ει δε νόω τις έχει θνατών αλαθείας οδόν, χρή προς μακάρων τυγχάνοντ’ εύ πασχέμεν. Άλλοτε δ’ αλλοίαι πνοαί υψιπετάν ανέμων. Όλβος ουκ ες μακρόν ανδρών έρχεται σάος, πολύς εύτ’ αν επιβρίσαις έπηται. Σμικρός εν σμικροίς, μέγας εν μεγάλοις έσσομαι, τον δ’ αμφέποντ’ αιεί φρασίν δαίμον’ ασκήσω κατ’ εμάν θεραπεύων μαχανάν. Ει δε μοι πλούτον θεός αβρόν ορέξαι, ελπίδ’ έχω κλέος ευρέσθαι κεν υψηλόν πρόσω» & «α δ’ αρετά κλειναίς αοιδαίς χρονία τελέθει. Παύροις δε πράξασθ’ ευμαρές»

In English: «if any of the mortals understands/realizes the road/path of Truth, he should attribute his good condition/happiness to the gods. In every time, the breaths of high-flying winds are different. Cosmic happiness (i.e. the happiness associated with social life)/wealth don’t come safe/certain to Men for long. Too much wealth is followed by great load/burden. I will be small in the small, and large to the large. The daemon (i.e. the god, as we have already explained) who always watches my brains I will honor and serve in all that I invent, in all that I do. If god gives me brilliant wealth, then I have the hope to find great glory in the future» & «Virtue becomes steady in time with famous chants. It is easy to be achieved only be few»

NovoScriptorium: Here we’ve got one more excerpt where Pindar expresses theological views. Any mortal who understands, he says, the road/path of Truth, attributes to God his good condition. In other words, it is clearly suggested that ‘the road/path of Truth’ is directly connected to the Divine. The belief that all good things emanate from above, from the Divine, is very strong. Especially if one finds himself in good condition, it is unthinkable not to praise the Divine.

The winds blow differently every time, he says, wanting to tone that things can rapidly change from one moment to the next in a Man’s life, either for good either for bad.

Cosmic happiness and wealth, he says, are never safe in the long run. On top of that he adds that even if wealth or great happiness comes at some point, Man is burdened. We can derive some conclusions from these: Since something is not safe, it is not reasonable and right to constitute the target of one’s life. Therefore, we can say without fallacy that here Pindar urges man to avoid the futility of seeking a permanent state of prosperity or the search for wealth. Not only because these are unstable, even if Man obtains them for a moment, but because they also put a heavy burden on his life. This weight is also mental and spiritual, and consequently physical, too.

Then he urges man to easily adapt to whatever happens to him (small in small, large to large). This shows absolute acceptance of reality and of the Divine will. It seems to be the ‘key’ for a decent and rather efficient presence of Man on Earth. The management of pain is a major issue and definitely has deep theological content.

Then Pindar refers to ‘a daemon’ that watches his brains all the time. So, on identifying that there is this type of watching from above, he takes care on thinking, saying and doing the best he can. It is realized that this ‘daemon’ is not evil, as this watching of his leads Man to good deeds. We have already explained in previous articles what ‘daemon’ means and that it can be identified with the words ‘God’ and ‘Wisdom’. Not coincidentally, Pindar doesn’t refer to ‘daemons’, he does not use plural number, but clearly talks about ‘one daemon’. The identification of the word ‘daemon’ with the word ‘god’ is obvious through the excerpt. Clearly, beyond any doubt, he speaks of one god. Let’s examine the characteristics of this god:

a) He observes, watches and knows the thoughts of Man, the very depths of his existence

b) It is He who can grant wealth to a Man and glorify him with brilliance (as one can understand, the reference is not only for material wealth; on the contrary, it seems to be referring more to mental and spiritual wealth, gifts from above. The text convinces us of this)

The only heart-knowing god that knows Man fully, to the depths of his existence, is the Triune God that Orthodox Christianity believes. In order to make sure we realize the difference, the demons (as we use the word today) do not have the ability to know our hearts neither our thoughts. They might submit thoughts, they might calculate what and how we will do something because they constantly observe us and indeed have experience of countless of years; but only God knows Man in his whole, to the very depths of his heart and each one of his thoughts. The ‘daemon/god’ which Pindar describes here cannot be anyone else than the One and Triune God. And, indeed, God is Him who can bless a Man to obtain wealthy charismas and achieve great glory through a virtuous living, as Pindar allegorically refers to these and not to the vain earthly wealth.

In the excerpt’s end it is made clear that the desired ending of life for Man is glory through Virtue. This virtue, he says, is glorified by people for many years after the death of the person who achieved it. Pindar points out that it is not easy for the many to act by Virtue. The fact is that true Virtue, that is, to achieve a life of an ‘angel with flesh’, is for the very few among the whole human population. Even the most ‘earthly’ Virtue, which concerns an average human being in marriage was and is very difficult to obtain. There is no place for Virtue, where atheism (or anti-God thinking-practices), materialism-hedonism, absurdity and the irrational, anarchy and clutter/disorder, hatred, sick Pride and the ‘worshiping of the Ego’ are nested and developed.

Summarizing our conclusions:

The greatest goal for a human creature is the achievement of Virtue, with the help of God. The road/path of Truth is the road of continuous glorification of God; it is the road of God. Good thoughts, words and deeds are the requirements. It is suggested to show no attachment/adhesion to cosmic happiness and matter, as they are unsafe and vain. Full acceptance of the Divine Will and of the Spiritual Law that governs everything is another requirement. Absolute conviction that all good comes from God is needed, too. The glory that comes from this virtue resists time and it is ‘celebrated with hymns’.

Isidoros Aggelos

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