Pindar – Truth, Piety, Prayer and Memory of death

Here we present and analyze four excerpts from Pindar, the lyric poet.


Olympionikos II, Verses 95-98

In ancient Greek: «αλλ’ αίνον επέβα κόρος ου δίκα συναντόμενος, αλλά μάργων υπ’ ανδρών, το λαλαγήσαι θέλον κρυφόν τιθέμεν εσλών καλοίς έργοις»

In English: «but envy, which does not meet with justice, rushes at commendation, wanting to cover the good deeds of the worthy with the palaver of the wroth and greedy men»

NovoScriptorium: Pindar disapproves envy. He assures that it is unjust by definition. Characteristic of the envious person is the aggression towards any other person who receives some kind of praise. The envious cannot suffer of better people living around him. And so he decries them. And he does so using palaver, too. He is also wroth and greedy. It is clear that this type of person cannot be pious and godly, neither can be counted amount the good people. Because the pious, godly and well-intentioned person, the one who has characteristics of a Philosopher –as we have explained in previous articles- avoids injustice, self-vindication, possessivity, palaver, evilness in general; he is decent, he does not judge the others before strictly having judged himself first, he gives to matter the importance it has for his survival and not for the acquisition of power or pleasures. He is merciful and philanthropist.

Olympionikos IV, Verses 17-18

In ancient Greek: «ου ψεύδεϊ τέγξω λόγον. Διάπειρά τοι βροτών έλεγχος»

In English: «I will not spoil my words with lies. Trial/Ordeal controls Men (or, ‘hard times check people’, meaning their abilities, wisdom, deeds, etc.)»

NovoScriptorium: Pindar disapproves mendacity. He suggests the position that Trials constitute some kind of check for Men. We do not believe that some special analysis is necessary on the importance of Truth. Every difficulty in the life of man, as long as it becomes motive for the deepening of self-knowledge it is a ‘gift’! Since Man becomes more experienced and stronger – like our body when it manages to beat a virus – whenever he passes one of these tests, then this can only be good! And, of course, it is also a form of ‘check’, from the Divine on the actions of man. For this life and for eternity, too – something the Philosophers indeed believed in.

Olympionikos VII, Verse 8

In ancient Greek: «άνεται δε προς χάριν ευσεβίας ανδρών λιταίς»

In English: «prayers made with piety are rewarded»

NovoScriptorium: Here we are informed about the importance of piety and praying. Pindar suggests that Man should pray to the Divine. The way to do this is with great respect. Of course, a prayer done with great respect, with the heart truly humble before God, with awe for God –i.e. fear of God- and absolute faith, it is almost certain that it will be heard with response by God. We are not the ones to write anything about the importance of Faith and Prayer! The Holy Scripture and the Fathers describe everything clearly and in all possible extent.

Olympionikos VIII, Verses 72-73

In ancient Greek: «Αΐδα τοι λάθεται άρμενα πράξαις ανήρ»

In English: «when one enjoys, he forgets Hades»

NovoScriptorium: What Pindar writes here is rather amazing. Orthodox Fathers inform us that whoever maintains ‘memory of death’, i.e. his mind ‘in Hades’, protects himself continuously from mistakes, small and big –the Sins. Because he continuously thinks of God and if God approves his deeds, as God is the final judge. So, ‘memory of death’ becomes a helper of salvation for Man –for this life and for Eternity. It is very often for, the carried away by temporary successes and joys, Man to have the illusion that he ‘doesn’t need God’, and hence doesn’t feel the necessity to check his thoughts and actions. This stance for life is well proven to be catastrophic for Man. So, whether we find ourselves in joy, whether we suffer, it is necessary to have God in our mind. Because this is beneficial for us; in whichever way we choose to look at it.

Isidoros Aggelos


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