Topical and timeless political messages – Pindar

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

Pindar_statue.jpg

Pythionikos IV, Verses 139-141

In ancient Greek: «εντί μέν θνατών φρένες ωκύτεραι κέρδος αινήσαι πρό δίκας δόλιον τραχείαν ερπόντων προς έπιβδαν όμως. Αλλ’ εμέ χρή και σε θεμισσαμένους οργάς υφαίνειν λοιπόν όλβον»

In English: «the mind (nous) of the mortals accepts treacherous profit faster than the just one, even though consequences follow. But, you and me, we must weave our future happiness in justice, keeping down our anger»

NovoScriptorium: Pindar records here the timeless reality that man more easily goes to evil than to good. Seeking profit and interest, more easily follows the fraudulent way than the path of justice and value. But he then advises that Man must weave his future happiness in justice. He also advises everyone to restrain their anger, especially for the sake of common good. The man who has been raised to respect and honor God will never consciously choose the fraudulent way. On the contrary, he will walk the road of Virtue at all costs. This choice is beneficial both individually and socially. Therefore it becomes clear that it was not an accident that the Philosophers tried to convince people around them on the benefits of following the direction of a pious life, towards a Man-model who would primarily struggle for virtues. It had been a profound political choice before anything else (e.g. a spiritual one).

Pythionikos IV 271-274

In ancient Greek: «χρή μαλακάν χέρα προσβάλλοντα τρώμαν έλκεος αμφιπολείν. Ράδιον μέν γάρ πόλιν σείσαι και αφαυροτέροις. Αλλ’ επί χώρας αύτις έσσαι δυσπαλές δή γίνεται, εξαπίνας ει μη θεός αγεμόνεσσι κυβερνατήρ γένηται»

In English: «you must cure the rotten wound with a soothing hand. Because it is easy for the vicious/corrupt to shake the city, but it is very difficult to set it up again if a god does not suddenly become the guide to the (city’s) leaders»

NovoScriptorium: In this excerpt, Pindar makes statements about the Polity, adding a theological (with reference to the Spiritual Law) extension of the issue. The first thing he mentions has a general application, not only in politics. The rotten wound has to be cured by a man ‘with a soothing hand’. That is, any evilness that constitutes a wound for the individual or the society, must be treated in a gentle way. Pindar, apparently, believes that dynamic and violent ‘therapies’ are not the right way of treating ‘wounds’. Psychiatrically and socially, and definitely theologically and spiritually, we will fully agree with him. Let’s think of a simple example, to see how right this is. Let’s consider the example where one tries to “correct” another man. Let’s assume that he indeed has the truth, the law, logic, reality, science, etc., with his part. If he attempts to impose, and, moreover, in an indicative way, on his interlocutor his – otherwise perfectly correct – position, the “natural” egoism will automatically function and the interlocutor will not only refuse correction but will fight back, even if he is clearly on the wrong side. Let each one of us extend this example to all levels. It will be perceived, illustratively, how right Pindar is in his writings.

Disturbance in a Polity easily happens, he writes. Not necessarily from the probably ‘good’ of the case, but also from the vicious. When the state falls into the hands of the vicious, however, Pindar continues, then, only a “god” can bring it round, by guiding its next leaders. The political and spiritual message at the same time is that we, the citizens, must take care not only to avoid internal disturbances, but never to allow the vicious rise in positions of authority. Otherwise we are – and rightly – at the mercy of God.

The use of the word “vicious” is identical to the “evilness” Homer is often talking about. It is contrary to the words ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ or ‘virtuous’, which, obviously, are on the opposite side of that of ‘evilness’. The characteristics of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ in Homer and the Philosophers have been quoted in a series of previous articles. He who belongs to the good side is necessarily pious, struggling for virtue, righteous and just. Vicious and evil are exactly the opposite. Consequently, Pindar’s message about the “vicious” can be analyzed as follows:

When you, people of a state, allow the atheists, the ungodly, the unjust, the fraudulent, the liars, etc., to ascend to the Authority and rule you, then your Polity will fall (degenerate) so much that only God will be able to help you – there will be no ‘human’ cure

Isidoros Aggelos

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