Poetry Corner – Pindar, Wherefore, O Light of the Sun…

The Ancient Greek poet Pindar has been revered for his lyric verse pretty much continuously since his lifetime, in the 5th century BCE. He was a noble son of Thebes, a city in the Boeotia region on the eastern side of the Gulf of Corinth. Pindar is best known for his victory odes, written for champions of the Olympic and Pythian Games. We’ll revisit Pindar and his victory odes come Olympics season. In the meantime, please enjoy this fragment of a poem inspired by a solar eclipse, possibly that of April 30, 463 BCE:

Wherefore, O Light of the Sun, thou that seest all things and givest bounds unto the sight of mine eyes—wherefore O star supreme hast thou in the daytime hidden thyself, and made useless unto men the wings of their strength and the paths that wisdom findeth, and hastest along a way of darkness to bring on us some strange thing?

Now in the name of Zeus I pray unto thee, O holy Light, that by thy swift steeds thou turn this marvel in the sight of all men to be for the unimpaired good hap of Thebes.
Yet if the sign which thou showest us be of some war, or destruction of harvest, or an exceeding storm of snow, or ruinous civil strife, or emptying of the sea upon the earth, or freezing of the soil, or summer rains pouring in vehement flood, or whether thou wilt drown the earth and make anew another race of men, then will I suffer it amid the common woe of all…



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