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Place and Identity in Pindar’s Olympian 2

Citation with persistent identifier:

Lewis, Virginia. “Place and Identity in Pindar’s Olympian 2.”CHS Research Bulletin 5, no. 2 (2017). http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hlnc.essay:LewisV.Place_and_Identity_in_Olympian_2.2017

1§1 In his epinician odes for Sicilian victors, Pindar links local places to Panhellenic mythic narratives to reinforce and shape identities for Sicilian rulers and the citizens over whom they rule. This short paper focuses on the way that Pindar represents civic and ruler identity in terms of place in one of Pindar’s odes for the Emmenid tyrants of Akragas as a case study. I argue first that Pindar affiliates Theron and the Emmenids with the River Akragas, an established civic symbol that is rooted in the physical landscape. I then propose that this link with the local landscape allows Pindar to portray Theron and his family as figures that situate Akragas within a broader Panhellenic mythic tradition.

The River Akragas as a Civic Symbol Before Theron’s Rule

2§1 Akragas was founded in 580 BCE by colonists from Gela.[1] The details of the city’s early history are difficult to trace, but a few things can be determined with more confidence. After the city’s foundation in the sixth century Phalaris became tyrant, possibly by seizing power during a religious festival,[2] and after his reign the city was likely to have been ruled for a period by an oligarchy until the Emmenid tyrant Theron came to power in 488.[3]

2§2 An early sign of Akragas’ civic identity is displayed on its coinage. By the end of the sixth century the city began to mint didrachms, which featured an eagle on the obverse and a crab on the reverse (Figure 1).[4]

Figure 1 – Jenkins 1990:43, no. 101.

Figure 1 – Jenkins 1990:43, no. 101.

2§3 Kenneth Jenkins interprets the images on the Akragantine didrachm as follows: “The eagle is the bird of Zeus and lord of the air, the crab, identified as a freshwater variety, expresses the watery element of river and seashore; one can almost imagine from the coins the splendid position of the city which seems to hang between sky and sea.”[5] Jenkins’ analysis of the series emphasizes that the eagle and the crab situate the city of Akragas spatially on a vertical plane. As the most common coin type from Akragas, the eagle/crab didrachm persisted throughout the fifth century until the city’s destruction by Carthage in 406.[6] By contrast with Syracuse where the Deinomenids minted at least two series of tetradrachms as commemorative issues during their reign,[7] the coinage at Akragas remained consistent and largely unchanged through Theron’s rule (488–472).

2§4 Because Akragantine coinage began in the period before the Emmenid rule, it is likely that the crab as a representation of the River Akragas was already an established civic symbol by the time Theron came to power in 488. The crab on the coinage of Akragas displays the centrality of the river to the city’s identity, and appearances of the river in two Pindaric odes for victories that took place in 490 offer more evidence for the river’s prominence in civic ideology. Two years before Theron became tyrant, Pindar celebrated two Akragantine victories at Delphi: the chariot victory of Theron’s brother Xenokrates in Pythian 6 and the aulos victory of Midas in Pythian 12.[8] As in nearly all epinician odes, Pindar celebrates the victor and his city. However, in both odes, but less commonly elsewhere, Akragas is celebrated in relation to its river.[9] Pythian 6 opens with a procession to Delphi where a treasury of hymns has been built for:  ὀλβίοισιν Ἐμμενίδαις / ποταμίᾳ τ’ Ἀκράγαντι καὶ μὰν Ξενοκράτει (“the fortunate Emmenids and for Akragas on its river and for Xenokrates,” Pythian 6.5–6). Although the ode’s setting and its initial performance are likely set in Delphi (lines 1–4), Pindar celebrates the victor’s city in connection with its river.[10]

2§5 In Pythian 12, the river again appears in the opening of the ode but now in a more elaborate pile-up of addresses (Pythian 12.1–6):

Αἰτέω σε, φιλάγλαε, καλλίστα βροτεᾶν πολίων,
Φερσεφόνας ἕδος, ἅ τ’ ὄχθαις ἔπι μηλοβότου
ναίεις Ἀκράγαντος ἐΰδματον κολώναν, ὦ ἄνα,
ἵλαος ἀθανάτων ἀνδρῶν τε σὺν εὐμενίᾳ
δέξαι στεφάνωμα τόδ’ ἐκ Πυθῶνος εὐδόξῳ Μίδᾳ
αὐτόν τε νιν Ἑλλάδα νικάσαντα τέχνᾳ,

I beseech you, lover of splendor, loveliest of mortals’ cities,
abode of Persephone, you who dwell upon the well-built height
above the banks of the Akragas, where sheep graze, O queen
receive this crown from Pytho offered by famous Midas
and welcome the man himself, who defeated Hellas in the art… (trans. Race)

2§6 While the first three titles clearly address the city, (φιλάγλαε, καλλίστα βροτεᾶν πολίων, Φερσεφόνας ἕδος) the city transforms into its eponymous nymph over the course of the relative clause and she is finally addressed as ἄνα by the end of the third line. The overlapping city and nymph dwell (ναίεις) above the River Akragas, whose banks (ὄχθαις) show that the poet now refers to the river and not the city. While the poet contrasts the natural landscape below (the river) with the manmade city above (the “well-built height”), the city itself is never named in the ode. Instead, its eponymous River Akragas supplies the name that brings lasting fame to the victor’s home through Pindar’s song. Read together with the early coins for Akragas, Pindar’s early odes for the city therefore demonstrate that the river was already a recognized civic symbol before Theron became tyrant of the city.

The River Akragas and Panhellenic Myth in Olympian 2

The Emmenids in the Akragantine Landscape

3§1 When Theron won the chariot race at Olympia in 476, he commissioned two odes from Pindar to celebrate this feat: Olympian 2 and Olympian 3. While both odes incorporate local and Panhellenic details that help to define Akragas as a city, I focus here on Olympian 2, in which Pindar activates the symbol of the River Akragas as a pivot that relates Theron’s ancestors to the Akragantine landscape and joins the victor and the Akragantines to a broader Panhellenic tradition.[11]

3§2 Olympian 2 begins with a grand celebration of the victor appropriately scaled to the magnificent victory he has won. The song first sets up Zeus and Herakles as foils for Theron and then celebrates the victor’s family and city:

Ἀναξιφόρμιγγες ὕμνοι,
τίνα θεόν, τίν’ ἥρωα, τίνα δ’ ἄνδρα κελαδήσομεν;
ἤτοι Πίσα μὲν Διός· Ὀλυμπιάδα δ’ ἔστασεν Ἡρακλέης
ἀκρόθινα πολέμου·
Θήρωνα δὲ τετραορίας ἕνεκα νικαφόρου                                        5
γεγωνητέον, ὄπι δίκαιον ξένων, ἔρεισμ’ Ἀκράγαντος,
εὐωνύμων τε πατέρων ἄωτον ὀρθόπολιν·

καμόντες οἳ πολλὰ θυμῷ
ἱερὸν ἔσχον οἴκημα ποταμοῦ, Σικελίας τ’ ἔσαν
ὀφθαλμός, αἰὼν δ’ ἔφεπε μόρσιμος, πλοῦτόν τε καὶ χάριν ἄγων  10
γνησίαις ἐπ’ ἀρεταῖς.

Hymns that rule the lyre,
What god, what hero, and what man shall we celebrate?
Indeed, Pisa belongs to Zeus, while Herakles established the first fruits of war;
but Theron, because of his victorious four-horse chariot,
must be proclaimed—a man just in his regard for guests, pillar of Akragas,
and foremost city-straightener from a line of famous ancestors,

who suffered much in their hearts
to win a holy dwelling place on a river, and they were
the eye of Sicily, while their allotted time drew on, adding wealth and glory
to their native virtues.    (trans. Race, slightly modified)

3§3 The comparison between Zeus, Herakles, and Theron introduces the comparison between the Akragantine tyrant and Zeus that resumes later in the ode. In his role as founder of the Olympic games, Herakles offers a model for Theron and his ancestors as the founders of Akragas. After this line, Herakles disappears from the ode, though audiences who heard both Pindaric odes for Theron’s victory may have understood a connection between his appearance in Olympian 2 and his establishment of a sacred olive grove in Olympia which dominates the mythical narrative of Olympian 3.

3§4 The poet next honors the victor (Theron, line 5), his family (his “famous ancestors,” line 7), and his city (Akragas, line 6). While in Pythian 12 the river supplies the name in place of the city, in Olympian 2 the city is celebrated in relation to the victor and his civic benefactions. Theron is a pillar (ἔρεισμα) of Akragas and a foremost city-straightener (ἄωτος ὀρθόπολις) from a line of famous ancestors.[12] The terms ἔρεισμα and ὀρθόπολις are both unusual in Greek literature of this period and are therefore worth dwelling on: ἔρεισμα does not appear before Pindar,[13] and ὀρθόπολις does not occur elsewhere in extant Greek literature except as the proper name of a city.[14] Moreover, as “the foremost city-straightener from a line of famous ancestors” (εὐωνύμων τε πατέρων ἄωτον ὀρθόπολιν, 7), Theron supports the city in the present and sustains an inherited legacy. The poem dwells on Theron’s ancestors and relates the victor’s lineage to his city: καμόντες οἳ πολλὰ θυμῷ / ἱερὸν ἔσχον οἴκημα ποταμοῦ (“who having toiled much in their hearts held a holy home on a river,” 8–9). By describing Theron as an ἔρεισμα and as ὀρθόπολις, Pindar applies unique terms that emphasize the spatial height of Akragas to describe Theron’s role as supporter of his city.[15]

3§5 As in the two earlier odes for Akragantine victors, the River Akragas appears as a site of identity in Olympian 2. As discussed above, in Pythian 6 Akragas is “on a river” (ποτάμιος) and in Pythian 12 the river supplies the name of the victor’s city. In Olympian 2, however, the river is not identified: Theron’s ancestors held a holy home on “a river.” In this case, the river lacks a proper name, which led the ancient scholia to debate exactly which river Pindar meant. Some suggested that it could be the River Gelas because Gela was the mother city of Akragas, [16] but since nothing in the poem suggests that Pindar refers to Gela here, the River Akragas is the better reading.[17] We should understand the river in Olympian 2 to be the River Akragas that Pindar associates with the city in Pythians 6 and 12, and which the Akragantines honored with the symbol of the crab on their coinage.[18]

3§6 In Olympian 2, Pindar places the home of Theron’s ancestors on the River Akragas. The effect of locating Theron’s ancestors, rather than the victor himself, on the river has two important implications. First, the poet takes the opportunity to emphasize that Theron honors his family in addition to honoring himself and his city. Second, his ancestors become part of the civic history of Akragas. By connecting the Emmenids to this civic symbol, the poem reinforces their role in civic life. Like the victor, his ancestors are placed on a height and assigned a superior vantage point. Pindar’s description of their toil could perhaps even suggest that they were among the founders of the city since they toiled to hold their holy home (line 9).[19] After their toil ended, Theron’s ancestors became the eye (ὀφθαλμός) of Sicily. While critics have interpreted this to mean that they were the “pride” of the island, the image of the Emmenids as the eye of the island once again places the ancestors on the high vantage point of those living on the ἄκρα γᾶς (“high parts of the earth”).[20]

3§7 The first antistrophe of Olympian 2 returns to Zeus in ring structure and now compares his home to Theron’s. The transition into the description of both homes returns to dwelling on the positions of both Zeus and Theron on vertical heights and to relating both rulers to their respective landscapes. The Olympian god is hailed in a divine variation on the earthly attributes of the Emmenids:

ἀλλ’ ὦ Κρόνιε παῖ Ῥέας, ἕδος Ὀλύμπου νέμων                   12
ἀέθλων τε κορυφὰν πόρον τ’ Ἀλφεοῦ, ἰανθεὶς ἀοιδαῖς
εὔφρων ἄρουραν ἔτι πατρίαν σφίσιν κόμισον

λοιπῷ γένει.

O son of Kronos and Rhea, ruling over your seat on Olympos,
over the peak of contests, and over Alpheos’ course, cheered by my songs
graciously preserve their ancestral land

for their children still to come.              (trans. Race, slightly modified)

3§8 While the Emmenids have their holy home on the river, Zeus, the son of Kronos and Rhea, rules over his home (his seat, edos, on Olympos), over the peak of contests, and over the course of another river, the Alpheos at Olympia. It has been proposed that Zeus is called the son of Kronos and Rhea in this passage because Pindar prefers variatio in naming.[21] However, the invocation of Zeus as a descendant of an older lineage also strengthens his role as foil for Theron since ancestry is emphasized for both the ruler and the king of the gods.

3§9 The prayer to Zeus, furthermore, reiterates the bond between the Emmenids and the Akragantine landscape. The land belongs securely not only to Theron but to his forbears as the poet asks the god to “preserve their ancestral land” (ἄρουραν ἔτι πατρίαν σφίσιν κόμισον, 14). The description of the land itself emphasizes the span and the permanence of the Emmenid rule. After toiling to gain their home, the land (ἄρουρα) is now linked to their family in the past and the poet prays for this connection to persist for their descendants (λοιπῷ γένει, 15).

3§10 By the end of the first triad, Pindar has established Theron as the heir to a noble lineage and has asserted an ancestral claim over both the River Akragas and the Akragantine landscape. At this point in the ode, however, Theron’s lineage goes back no further than his ancestors’ arrival in Akragas. The origin of the Emmenids before their arrival in Akragas appears to have been contested. As discussed above, Gela was the metropolis of Akragas, and some ancient interpreters therefore believed that Theron’s ancestors originated from Gela. Other scholiasts, however, cited a passage from Pindar’s encomium for Theron:

ἂν δὲ Ῥόδον κατῴκισθεν. . .
ἔνθεν δ’ ἀφορμαθέντες ὑψηλὰν πόλιν ἀμφινέμονται,
πλεῖστα μὲν δῶρ’ ἀθανάτοις ἀνέχοντες,
ἕσπετο δ’ αἰενάου πλούτου νέφος.

And they settled in Rhodes…
Having set out from there, they inhabit a lofty city,
And as they offer the most gifts to the immortals,
A cloud of ever-flowing wealth has followed them. (trans. Race)

3§11 In what remains of the encomium, Pindar traces Theron’s ancestors back to the island of Rhodes before they travelled to Sicily. As in the opening of Olympian 2, he stresses the city’s high position since Akragas is here a ὑψηλὰ πόλις. Unless more of the encomium is discovered we cannot be certain about why Pindar emphasized Theron’s Rhodian lineage in this poem.[22] What is important for the present argument is that the encomium presents another line of Theron’s genealogy that the poet could have chosen to emphasize in Olympian 2 but does not.

A Theban Genealogy for Theron

3§12 By contrast, in Olympian 2 Pindar focuses on Theron’s earlier Theban ancestors, clearly linking the Emmenids to a Panhellenic mythic tradition rather than to a Rhodian tradition.[23] I argue elsewhere that in his epinician odes for Sicilian victors Pindar is especially interested in linking Sicilian places—that is, points in the landscape or cityscape, whether naturally occurring or manmade—to a larger tradition of Panhellenic myth. By Panhellenic myth, I mean something very similar to Gregory Nagy’s definition of Panhellenic poetry as:

…those kinds of poetry and song that operated not simply on the basis of location traditions suited for local audiences. Rather, Panhellenic poetry would have been the product of an evolutionary synthesis of traditions, so that the tradition that it represents concentrates on traditions that tend to be common to most locales and peculiar to none (Nagy 1990:54).

3§13 For the present purposes, myths that relate to Akragas, such as the foundation of the city, may be counted as local mythology because they are peculiar to the city of Akragas, or perhaps most broadly to Sicily, but are less relevant to other locales. At the end of the first triad of Olympian 2, Theron’s genealogy lies at the local level, though his Olympic victory elevates him on a Panhellenic stage as an individual. However, as the ode progresses, Pindar transforms the settlement of Akragas on its river by Theron’s ancestors into a Panhellenic narrative.

3§14 In the ode’s first mythical section (lines 22–45) Pindar provides mythical exempla from Thebes that resume the vertically-oriented spatial structure established in the ode’s opening by narrating stories of rising and falling fortunes. These exempla provide, in addition, a heroic ancestry for the victor. The first set of Theban figures are the daughters of Kadmos,  Semele, and Ino, examples of mortals who suffered greatly (ἔπαθον μεγάλα, 23) but later received great rewards among the Olympian gods.[24] The poet then observes that Fate controls the destiny of mortals, which can be reversed in another time (lines 35–38). The exemplar of this fortune is Oedipus:

ἐξ οὗπερ ἔκτεινε Λᾷον μόριμος υἱός                         38
συναντόμενος, ἐν δὲ Πυθῶνι χρησθέν
παλαίφατον τέλεσσεν.

ἰδοῖσα δ’ ὀξεῖ’ Ἐρινύς
ἔπεφνέ οἱ σὺν ἀλλαλοφονίᾳ γένος ἀρήϊον·
λείφθη δὲ Θέρσανδρος ἐριπέντι Πολυνείκει, νέοις ἐν ἀέθλοις
ἐν μάχαις τε πολέμου
τιμώμενος, Ἀδραστιδᾶν θάλος ἀρωγὸν δόμοις·                   45
ὅθεν σπέρματος ἔχοντα ῥίζαν πρέπει τὸν Αἰνησιδάμου
ἐγκωμίων τε μελέων λυρᾶν τε τυγχανέμεν.

From that day when his fated son met and killed Laios
And fulfilled the oracle
Declared long before at Pytho.

When the sharp-eyed Fury saw it,
she killed his warrior progeny in mutual slaughter;
but Thersandros, who survived the fallen Polyneikes, gained honor in youthful contests
and in battles of war,
to be a savior son to the house of Adrastos’ line.
It is fitting that the son of Ainesidamos, whose roots spring from that seed,
should meet with victory songs and lyres.         (trans. Race)

3§15 This mythical exemplum once again shows that fortunes may be reversed. While Oedipus fulfilled the oracle and suffered an ill reversal of fortune, his descendant Thersandros saved the family.

3§16 Two characteristics of Thersandros are relevant for the present argument: he has gained honor through effort and he has preserved his lineage. First, Thersandros has won honor by competing in contests and by fighting in battle. His activities map onto Theron’s athletic achievements at Olympia and his military achievements in the Battle of Himera. Thersandros’ success in battle furthermore recalls Herakles’ firstfruits of war (ἀκρόθινα πολέμου, line 4), which appear in the same metrical position in the strophe as ἐν μάχαις πολέμου. The similar language of both passages reinforces the comparison between Theron and the hero and connects Theron’s ancestor Thersandros to this tradition.

3§17 In addition to exerting effort like a hero or an athletic victor, Thersandros is a θάλος ἀρωγὸν for the house of Adrastos, which William Race translates as “savior son.” While θάλος may be translated as “son” and often means just this, in this passage the translation misses the nuance of the fertility theme that Pindar sustains throughout this passage. Thersandros is a “savior shoot” for the house of the sons of Adrastos. A shoot springs skyward from the ground and rises vertically like the support which described Theron in the ode’s opening. The fertility metaphor continues: from this shoot it is fitting that the son of Ainesidamos (i.e. Theron) who has a root (ῥίζα) from that seed (σπέρμα) should meet with victory songs and lyres (lines 46–47). By line 47, Theron and the Emmenids are thoroughly established as members of a long line of heroes that hail from Thebes.

3§18 In contrast with Pindar’s encomium for Theron, the poet omits the Rhodian version of Theron’s lineage in Olympian 2. In the epinician ode, the poet instead highlights a lineage that connects the Emmenids to the Labdacids,[25] that is, a genealogy that weaves Theron’s family into an even broader Panhellenic narrative. While celebrations of Ainesidamos, Theron’s father, or even his more distant relatives may have been significant for Akragantine audiences, a Theban pedigree stretching back to Polyneices and Adrastos situates Theron and the Emmenids firmly within the Panhellenic mythic tradition of the Theban cycle.[26]


4§1 In Olympian 2, Pindar carefully balances the Emmenid relationship with their city, Akragas, in the present and their link to the heroic past. Absent Pindar’s emphasis on Theron’s Theban lineage, the Emmenids could be restricted to local importance, relevant only to Akragantines, or perhaps Sicilians more broadly construed. On the other hand, without their home on the river, Theron’s family could appear to be equally removed from local Akragantine civic culture. The ode establishes firm roots for Theron’s ancestors in Akragas, while his Theban connection elevates the Emmenids to prominence outside of Akragas, reframing the family in Panhellenic terms both for local audiences and for audiences outside of Sicily. Although local Akragantine audiences familiar with Theron’s family history (or with his propaganda about their past)[27] may have traced this lineage from Thebes to Rhodes to Akragas, for audiences elsewhere, the Emmenids, and the city they founded on the river, are represented in this poem as players on a larger Panhellenic stage when they are portrayed as the sons of Thebes. 


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[1] Thucydides 6.4.4.

[2] Polyaenus 5.1.1-4.

[3] On the history of Akragas before Theron, see Luraghi 1994:231–239 and more generally 231–272.

[4] Kraay 1976:208 places the beginning of Akragantine coinage around 510 and Jenkins 1990:43 around the end of the sixth century.

[5] Jenkins 1990:43. Rutter 2000:74 likewise describes the crab as “a constant feature of the typology of Akragas from the beginning of coinage there towards the end of the sixth century down to its end in 406.” The didrachms of Akragas were minted on the Attic standard.

[6] Rutter 2000:74. Although the main types remained consistent, some additional symbols were added as the dies changed over this period. Nonetheless, the mark of the Emmenids is not as obvious as the addition of the Nike on Syracusan tetradrachms by the Deinomenids, for instance.

[7] Knoepfler 1992:27–28.

[8] Almost no information survives about Midas. He could be of non-Greek origin, but it is conceivable that his name could be a stage name for a Greek man from Akragas (Martin 2003:169n69).

[9] The third usual element is the victor’s family. The absence of a celebration of Midas’ family supports the suggestion that Midas could be a stage name. In any event, as the only surviving ode for an auletic victor, Pythian 12 presents an exceptional case.

[10] However, Eckerman 2011 argues that we should understand Akragas as the place of the ode’s performance rather than Delphi.

[11] For the related idea that physical markers, such as objects or localities, function as hinges between the mythical past and the singer’s present, see Kowalzig 2007:24–32, especially 32. Recently Hanne Eisenfeld has also analyzed the local and Panhellenic implications of geographical references in Olympians 2 and 3. She argues that Pindar’s representations of mythical and non-mythical western edges orient Akragas closer to the center of the Greek world relative to its mythical counterparts (Eisenfeld 2017).

[12] Pindar’s phrasing here looks forward to his description of Hector as the ἄμαχον ἀστραβῆ κίονα (“invincible pillar of strength”) at line 81. See Smoot 2010:9–10 and Eisenfeld 2017.

[13] Pindar employs it in one other passage in an address to Athens, calling the city the Ἑλλάδος ἔρεισμα (fr. 76.2). The contrast between democratic Athens and Theron’s tyranny may be seen in the distinction between the two passages. While the entire city is an ἔρεισμα in the case of Athens, Theron alone functions in this role in Akragas. The word does not appear again until Xenophon, where it generally refers to watchtowers.

[14] As a proper name, see Strabo 7a.1.36 and Pausanias 2.5.8. The word does, however, appear in the epigraphic corpus. An inscription for Termessos in Psidia presents an intriguing parallel where Termeros is the ἕρμα πόληος and ὀρθόπολιν (BCH 23.302). For the Homeric formula ἕρμα πόληος, see Iliad 16.549 of Sarpedon and Odyssey 23.121 of the slain suitors, the youth of Ithaka. Gentili et al. 2013:391 compare the term to the Pindaric terms: φιλόπολις (Olympian 4.16), ἀρχέπολις (Pythian 9.54), φερέπολις (fr. 39), yet none of Gentili’s parallel terms have the sense of height expressed by ὀρθόπολις.

[15] Kirkwood 1982:67 understands this terminology as a metaphor of building. We may also see here a reference to the Telamons on the Akragantine Olympeion which was under construction at the time of the ode’s performance. As the Telamons become part of the cityscape, Theron is inserted into the landscape by Pindar’s ode. On the temple and its date, see Mertens 2006:261–266.

[16] For this view, see Scholia Olympian 2.15c, Scholia Olympian 2.16b (for the view of Artemon of Pergamon). On Artemon’s erroneous interpretations of Pindar’s text, see Broggiato 2011.

[17] The Emmenid tyrants, moreover, may have had reason to distance themselves from the Geloans since their rivals, the Deinomenids, were originally from Gela and primarily ruled over that city before Gelon relocated their base to Syracuse in 485 (Gentili et al. 2013:47–49). Starting in 485, Hieron ruled in Gela until Gelon’s death, and Gela continued to be ruled by the Deinomenid Polyzelos even after Hieron’s move to Syracuse in 478, on which see Luraghi 1994:331. On the propagandistic function of emphasizing a lineage that comes directly from Rhodes, see Gentili et al. 2013:48.

[18] Citing a parallel passage from Iliad 23, Guy Smoot has suggested that Pindar’s description of Theron’s ancestors as kamontes next to an indefinite river may hint that Theron’s ancestors have attained “a holy settlement by the primordial river Ocean in the Isles of the Blest or any such similar paradise at the ends of the earth” (Smoot 2010:13). Cf. Iliad 23.73–74. While it is perhaps less likely that audiences would make this connection when first hearing the ode, in subsequent performances the unique and memorable eschatological narrative later in the ode may have colored the opening reference to the river. This possibility is intriguing in light of the ode’s mythical narrative, which uniquely in Pindar’s odes describes the afterlife rather than a heroic tale, and Pindar’s open reference could allow the river to resonate with themes that appear later in the ode.

[19] Athanassaki 2003 shows that epinician poetry tends to elide conflict in colonial interactions. The downplaying of discord in this passage is consistent if this is indeed a colonial reference.

[20] On the significance of the city’s name and the way that this related to its position on the edge of the earth, Pavlou 2010. Smoot 2010:13 proposes that Pindar’s description of the κάμοντες as the “eye of Sicily” may also conjure associations with the eye in the story of the Cyclops, who traditionally lived in Sicily. Gentili et al. 2013:391–392 understand a reference to the Emmenids watching over the island in a military sense against the threatening Carthaginians.

[21] Willcock 1995:160, Nisetich 1989:85n15.

[22] For an argument that the cloud of ever-flowing wealth connects to local Rhodian cult, see Catenacci 2005:27–29.

[23] The Emmenids, apparently, traced their lineage from Eteocles through Athens to Rhodes. See Gentili et al. 2013:49 with references.

[24] Morrison 2007:48; Nisetich 1989:71–72.

[25] Though space will not allow a fuller discussion here, this must be at least in part due to generic differences between encomia and epinician.

[26] This pedigree obviously comes with some baggage, which there is not space to discuss fully here. Surely it is not an uncomplicated honor to be the descendant of Oedipus.

[27] Gentili et al. 2013:48. Also see Luraghi 2011 on the widespread propagandistic tendencies of the Sicilian tyrants more generally. Luraghi argues that while Theron opted to be depicted in a way that was consistent with traditional aristocratic values, Hieron chose to be represented explicitly as a ruler who is not only portrayed in the usual superlative ways that Pindar described other aristocrats but also has personal power within the community. Theron is therefore more interested in genealogical memory, whereas Hieron’s lineage does not extend past his father (Luraghi 2011:30, 35–37).

About Virginia Lewis

Virginia Lewis (PhD UC Berkeley) is an Assistant Professor of Classics at Florida State University. Her research focuses on Greek literature, with particular interests in archaic and classical Greek poetry, Pindar, tragedy, Greek Sicily, and theories of space and place. She has published on tragedy and has articles in progress on Pindar’s Sicilian odes. At the CHS, she will be completing a manuscript of her current book project, Myth, Locality, and Identity in Pindar’s Sicilian Odes, which examines the role played by local places, myths, and religious cults in epinician poetry for victors from Sicily and considers how these elements shape identity.

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